When someone offered me my first taste of kombucha, I was wary of the bubbly amber beverage, but eventually I put the glass to my lips and swallowed.  It was not what I expected.

Kombucha is a beverage made from fermenting tea with the help of kombucha mushroom yeast cultures.  A friend of mine explained the drink as “being to tea as yogurt is to milk.”

This fermented beverage is thought to have originated in China, more than two thousand years ago and was called the “tea of immortality,”

Here is how to make your own, excellent-tasting Immortal Elixir.

1)  Acquire tea. Black tea works best for kombucha.

2)  Adopt a daughter.  A kombucha daughter, that is.  A scoby (pronounced SCOH-bee) is another term for this layer of bacterial residue that forms on top of the kombucha brew.  It looks like a thin, pale pancake and can be anywhere from 1/4 inch to 2 inches thick.  Kombucha brews are continually making new scoby daughters, so finding someone with their own existing kombucha brew is the easiest way to acquire one.

3)  Keep the scoby wet with kombucha until you’re ready to brew.  Letting the scoby layer dry out will kill it.

4)  Brew a pot of black tea as you would normally.  Put it in a large glass jar, and add as much sugar as you want.  Have no fear of over-sweetening, since the cultures in the scoby will devour it all and convert it into a sugar-free vinegar-like substance.  Note:  Only use glass jars!

5)  Allow the tea to come to room temperature, since hot water can kill the scoby daughter.

6)  Once the tea is cool, plop your scoby daughter into the tea. She should float to the top of the tea mixture.

7)  Cover the glass jar with a cheesecloth or an old t-shirt and allow the mixture to sit for at least a week.  Letting the kombucha sit longer will result in an increasingly strong and vinegar-y brew.  If you’re new to the flavor, try it after just a week.  If you’re a kombucha veteran, let it sit for a few weeks more.

8)  Drink up!  Glass jars with a tap on the bottom are the easiest to pour, but you can have a regular glass jar too.

9)  Make sure to keep the jar covered when you’re not pouring from it, and keep the scoby wet in her jar.  For a continuous brew, keep adding cool, sugary tea to the jar as the level goes down.  This is easiest, but if you’re trying to achieve a certain flavor you can start over fresh for each batch, too.  Happy experimenting!

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