Kombucha, the fizzy fermented tea beverage, has been around for a long time but is now becoming more and more trendy. Groceries are now dedicating an entire cold beverage shelving just for these drinks. I did my own googling about the health benefits of this beverage and agree that there are not a lot of good evidence that it is good for you. Old articles in fact talk about cases of illnesses connected to kombucha consumption (consume in moderation, people!).
I personally got interested in it after my dear sister gave me a fermentation cook book, in which this was one of the recipes. It involves transforming an ordinary tea into a carbonated tangy drink through the action of a SCOBY (a biofilm of bacteria and yeast). It sounded like a science project so I was super excited to give it a try! We went to the grocery store to sample some kombucha and get some inspiration and bought the kit to make it. I was also motivated by the fact that the store bought ones had a low carb content. It really makes me wonder why restaurants don't offer this instead of just diet coke/pepsi as the low calorie option...
So far, I've tried different kinds of teas: decaf ginger, hoji-cha, pomegranate tea, strawberry tea, rooibos, chrysanthemum, twinings herbal variety. The only ones that tasted good was the fruit flavored ones, while the rest was weird. I would then infuse the "weird" ones with something else to improve the taste, like basil leaves, blackberries or strawberries overnight in the fridge after separating some from the scoby. I was admittedly scared about trying to make it bubbly because I've read a lot of bottle explosions incidents but finally, I tried it since its the only thing I feel like I haven't tried yet.
The fizz definitely makes this more enjoyable to drink. I just kept an eye on the swing-top bottle and off-gassed a day after adding fruit puree, and then two days and three to see how fast the gas was building up. It took about four days for significant bubbles to build up which could be seen in the bottle (left image). It was really satisfying to pour it into a glass and see that I've created a fizzy beverage!
It's been about six months since the original, rectangular scoby above. I've multiplied the original into three multi-layer scobies. I've read about some people's concerns about this as a "wild" ferment, meaning you don't know what bacterias or yeast are going into your beverage. You definitely have to keep an eye on your culture to make sure that nothing new or hairy is growing on it and that it smells the same. I haven't seen anything suspicious so far yet.
Would I recommend making your own kombucha at home? I think it's not for everybody. But I would definitely recommend that restaurants it on their menu!