Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Jake Gyllenhaal drink it. Grocery store coolers in Baton Rouge and across the country are chock-full of it. Its flavors, while backed by that signature fizzy vinegar tang, are exploding in diverse, fruity combinations. And if you don’t feel like buying the bottled version anymore, a movement of die-hards can show you how to make your own in a manner that sorta reminds you of the sourdough bread movement.
I’m talking, of course, about kombucha, the fermented tea drink that used to be confined to New Agers. No more. Everyone seems to be drinking the stuff because of its purported health benefits, which stem largely from the fact that it’s chock-full of the energetic little microorganisms we call probiotics.
The beverage is made by adding yeast and a bacteria culture to brewed tea and then adding sugar. This sets off a reaction and results in the creation of something commonly referred to as SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.
If you haven’t tried kombucha yet, there are plenty of options on the market to sample, including a regional artisan kombucha line called Big Easy Bucha from New Orleans. Big Easy Bucha features 10 flavors of the fermented tea, like Cajun Kick, Front Porch Peach and Bayou Berry.
Generally speaking, commercially produced kombuchas vary in taste according to what fruit juice or other flavoring has been added. Some err on the side of sweet to mask the drink’s natural acerbic tang. These might have higher sugar content than others, so if that’s a concern, check the number of sugar grams.
If you become a regular consumer of the booch, it might be more advantageous to make your own. Not long ago on the neighborhood app Next Door, someone in my area was passing around a kombucha “mother,” or SCOBY with which to start a new brew. But if you don’t want to take some SCOBY off a stranger’s hands, here’s a good DIY primer on making your own. And here’s a story we featured in 225 on a Baton Rouge couple who offers kombucha making lessons.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.