As the trends come and fade over the years, many are not able to stay relevant for more than a year. Then fermentation came to afloat and caught people’s eyes starting in the early 90’s. Such as the beautiful nectar of wine and grains steeped into water and fermented to beer. But what about things without alcohol? There are drinks that involve fermentation without alcohol, right?
Of course, there is! That succulent tart bite of fermented tea is known as Kombucha.
We’ve luckily met Jennifer Hsieh of Buchabae a couple weeks ago in jersey city at a event we attended, (read here!). But before I talk about that, lets first get the basic understanding of what fermentation actually is.
I’d like to first state that fermentation is not a fad. The ability to keep hold of a product past its “prime” is through the work of fermentation. The science of zymology or fermentation is the process of breaking down complex substances into a simpler form. In simpler terms, (Ha! Get it?) is the conversion of sugar into acids or alcohol with the help of inoculating bacteria or yeast. This art was placed way before our time and way before refrigeration/electricity. Roughly starting around 7000 B.C., fermentation was first used to make beer wine and also western properties such as soy sauce, fish sauce. With the evolution of human ingenuity, fermentation grew in the act of preserving substances that aren’t liquid form. Such as meat, cheese, grains, pickles, vegetables, curds etc.
Ok so you’ve either heard of Kombucha or in fact had some before. But now you’re probably wondering what Kombucha actually is. To keep it short and sweet, Kombucha is a sugar-sweetened tea fermented by a group of bacteria turning into a delicious sour tonic beverage. The drink is usually fortified with fruits which allows the natural occurring sugars to break down and give food for bacteria and then carbonation forms. The bacteria that forms on top of the liquid is a layer of bacteria culture, known as a Scoby. The Scoby is a jelly like substance that some say is “alien like”. When making a Kombucha for the first time, you will either have to take a mother, Scoby from a friend, or making one by simply placing a plain unflavored Kombucha in a wide mouth jar and placing cheesecloth tied with a rubber band. Place in a warm area for a week or so until a Scoby forms. The cooler the temperature the longer it will take to ferment. The best thing about Kombucha and the Scoby is that they will always grow onto a new batch! Make sure to share your bacteria filled environment with friends and family!
Once you’ve made your Scoby you can start on your first Kombucha. You will brew a batch of tea to your desired amount, either loose or bagged tea. For first use stay away from earl grey or heavily scented tea due to the fact the added essential oils may not allow fermentation. Black tea, green tea, and may favorite white tea works the best. Once the tea is brewed, make sure to dilute with cold water to allow the tea to cool. Add your flavorings such as fruit, fruit flavorings, herbs/spices and gently place your Scoby in. Again, you will need to place in a wide mouth container with cheesecloth. After, place in a warm area. After a couple days you shall notice the Scoby either sink (which is ok!) or float. Once the Scoby does float, a new layer will generate! This is the process of fermentation! With allowing the brewed tea to be in a stable temperature of 75°to 85°Fahrenheit for a period of a week or so will allow carbonation to occur! Make sure to taste your Kombucha every day or so until desired taste and acidity is placed.
“So all of this sounds intriguing and exciting, but doesn’t fermented food or drinks make you sick?
The honest answer is of course it COULD. Chances are you will be ok. But when you start to understand the art of safely creating kombucha you’ll be in the clear. Make sure to work safe and smart! I highly recommend sanitizing each object you use. When sterilization takes place, this allows good bacteria to grow in your scoby and ferment your kombucha in a safe manner! As long as you take safe measure, and have fun while doing so, you’ll be glad you did.
Jennifer mentioned to us that in all honesty not everyone likes kombucha. Whether it’s by the way it tastes, the carbonation or whatever it may be. And that’s ok! She explains how their kombucha is not as strong or astringent as other companies. Their drink is more palatable and healthier. Kombucha contains B vitamins, antioxidants and probiotics which helps with digest. Every brand’s health benefits will vary due to the fact of how much sugar is being used and other properties such as preservatives. Make sure when purchasing to read the nutrition label! But if you contact Buchabae you will be getting a beautiful, crisp kombucha packed with natural flavors.
“Kombucha is such a versatile beverage and an easy way to integrate some healthy probiotics into your daily life. Whether you’re drinking it straight up or being a little naughty and adding some alcohol to it, it is such a tasty treat.
Our kombucha was crafted to go down smooth so everyone can enjoy. As for me, I was never the biggest fan of carbonated or acidic foods. BuchaBae is nothing like that… it’s Bae after all! It takes care of you!” -Jennifer Hsieh
Jennifer and company will continue to work on their kombucha making it more available to others and building a community. If you are interested in trying out BuchaBae for yourself feel free to talk to Jennifer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, be sure to give them a follow on instagram and facebook or check them out at www.buchabae.com
-Nash Reba, @Bestfoodsnj