Adventures in Kombucha

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Sometimes I think it is essential to look the part, to play the part. No?

My rad friends got me this, “But First Kombucha” shirt for Christmas. They’re awesome and totally get me.

So when I wanted to learn the ropes of kombucha, I had to wear the shirt.

This post is about human connection and community as much as it is about kombucha.

I remember when I first met my friend Kate at the market. She had on this cool hat, awesome socks, she was pretty much cool. I could tell right away she was like an earthy soul sister and all around good person. I came to her booth and we went to compliment each other at the same time (me on her general look, and her about my baby pink hair). She was there selling cheese for a farmer, but some how we got talking about kombucha. This was a while ago. Fast forward to me joining the market and Kate carrying kombucha at the market. It was sooooo good. Cherry was favorite because that’s my favorite food. But the market let me not only interact with Kate on a regular basis, but I got to try loads of different flavors. There was strawberry mint and one with turmeric and so many more, I can’t think of all the kinds I’ve tried over the years.

I’ll note that this was before kombucha was easy to find at the store.

But Kate stopped doing the market at the end of the summer………………..

And I moved to Champaign……………………

I didn’t want to pay a small fortune for a bottle of kombucha at the store. Plus I am very much one of those self-sufficient types and I have wanted (even before my first encounter with Kate) to make kombucha.

I was intimidated to make it, though, because reading on the internet makes it scary, I feel, and there can be a lot of horror stories.

And I always had Kate, but then I was on my own, and the time was right to learn for myself. Because why not learn from someone who’s been doing it for a long time, with no troubles? So I messaged Kate and scheduled something. I also invited my girl Crystal from church, because we talked about kombucha, farming and more the first time we met. I knew she would love it.

So we set off with our glass jars, ready to learn and see for ourselves.

I cannot even put into words our little adventures. It is more than kombucha. There is a reason I love farmer’s markets. Why I’ve visited farms in the past. Why it’s an integral part of the future I see myself in.

Kate and Jason live on a little slice of heaven. We pull up and they have grass-fed dairy cows chilling in their front yard. You can see all of Jason’s hives in the back yard. Further away their are chickens. And in the woods are hundreds of logs ready to grow mushroom. We drove for miles surrounded by traditional corn and wheat fields to this oasis of life. There are gardens. There are trees. It’s quiet and peaceful and perfect.

Besides this, however, are the people. I love markets because of the connection factor. Not just making a connection to my food (okay this is the person growing, baking, making, etc. my food), but the person behind it. That is something in this society. In a society, where frankly I think we are distracted and numb to our own lives, I think this matters. In a time of technology, where you see sad photos of us stooped over our phones. Of a family or friends sitting in the same room, utterly engrossed in another reality.

So true human connection matters to me. It should matter to us all. Having conversations, real ones with eye contact, interaction, listening, engagement, is beautiful. I get a high leaving the markets in the summer after meeting and interacting with new people all morning.

And Kate and Jason are AMAZING people. We walk in and they offer their home as ours too. Eat, drink whatever we want. Get comfortable. We can walk anywhere on the property.

But it is the exchange. Denying ourselves of connections is really denying us of so much. Of knowledge and learning and perspective. Because we are all here for a reason. We are unique. We may not have the same beliefs. Lifestyles. Share the same politics. We may come from different cultures and backgrounds. We may have different skills. Different dreams. And that is OKAY. Actually that is great. Because we were created, designed unique. Differences makes life and conversations interesting. We can learn from people that is different than us. Maybe think about something in a new light. We can give someone the gift of listening.

And I have found that I enjoy paradoxes, that I can celebrate the differences and look for a commonality at the same time. I haven’t found someone I couldn’t relate to on some level. Which is how it should be. We are all trying to figure out this life. We are trying to do the best we can. We are all flawed and imperfect. We all have made mistakes. We all want to feel like we matter. Like our life matters. We all want to feel love. Even if we don’t acknowledge these things, it’s there. It’s basic human needs (I’m talking spiritually and emotionally here). So meet people with love. Listen to them. Make them feel like what they’re saying matters, that they matter.

Jason and Kate and Crystal and I are all very similar in certain aspects. We could talk for hours and hours (and we may have). But we all can learn from one another. That is the beauty of it. We can exchange. Exchange ideas. And knowledge.  Skills. Share something that we are learned from our own personal experiences.

That is cool. That means something.

And they think and live in such a mind-blowing way. They don’t just think about now and growing for this year, they think of the future, 100’s of years from now. They are working on changing the landscape for the future. Planting trees. Thinking about the way they raise animals and how they plant gardens. There are the bees. They are not thinking just about what they are going to eat now, but for our future. For your children’s future and beyond.

What if more people thought like this? What if we had more communities like this? How would our landscape and country change? How would it look? How would it feel?

We don’t think we can change anything, we’re one person. But change starts with us. And those numbers start to add up. And how you live will influence how your children live. Which will influence how your grandchildren live. Behavior and lifestyle are often be conditioned habits. So you see once you get a little further out, how many people will you influence? And that’s just family. Not people you meet, who you may inspire. Because those grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the future. What do you want their world to look like?

Big questions.

And this adventure is hard to write so that it flows, but I have done my best and that is all I can do.

I hope you enjoyed it. That you think of how you can make a difference. Think of what you can change now, today, that will make the future better somehow.  I hope you celebrate others’ differences and look for common ground. That you meet others with love. That you seek connections in your life. True human connections, less distractions. If you want to learn something or you have something to teach: share.

And now, how to make kombucha……………………………………

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Kombucha

  • 1 1/2 cup organic sugar (Kate said honey didn’t work for her but I plan on trying some maple sugar too)
  • 7 bags black or green tea
  • cloth with band
  • glass jar (gallon)
  • Kombucha culture (scoby)

IMAG3944Let’s Brew: 

Boil water. Pour over tea bags in a mug. Steep for 60 seconds (to decaffeinate the tea).

Dump sugar into a plastic 1 gallon pitcher. Pour some of the boiling water over it. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Remove the tea bags and add them to the pitcher. Fill with cold water. Let stand a few moments, but no longer than 15 minutes (you don’t want to pour hot water on your scoby).

Wash and rinse the gallon glass jar with vinegar. Place the scoby, along with the liquid the scoby was in, in the gallon jar. Now pour the tea over the scoby.

Place a clean cloth over the jar, secure with a rubber band. Place it somewhere out of the sun (kombucha likes to hang out somewhere between 72 and 73 degrees).

Let it sit for 7 to 10 days. In the winter, it may need to to go almost a month. Taste test around day 8. When it tastes to your liking, get ready to bottle.

Bottling it up:

Clean the glass jars (any size you desire) you wish to use with hot water.

Remove the scoby, transferring it to a glass bowl. Add some kombucha to the scoby so it won’t dry out.

Pour the kombucha into a pitcher to pour into the glass jars. Leave an inch or two of room at the top. Seal the bottles with a lid and place them in the refrigerator.

Repeat the brewing step.

Drink and enjoy!

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