You know that feeling when you look at your credit card statement and realize you’ve spent your entire paycheck on kombucha? If you have to balance your budget each month to support your $4.50-a-day booch habit, don’t hire an accountant: track down holistic nutritionist and kombucha wizard Rachel Molenda.
We joined the #RealAssFood advocate at one of her recent sold-out kombucha-making workshops to find out how to save our wallets without sacrificing our gut health by fermenting our own drinks at home.
We gathered at communal tables at Left Field Brewery, sipping beers while learning how to make a gut-health-promoting beverage because, balance. Rachel kicked things off by having each person introduce themselves and say why they attended the workshop. Overwhelmingly the answer was: to keep drinking kombucha without having to take out a second mortgage.
From there she delved into the basics: what is kombucha, how it helps our gut, the difference between homemade and store bought, what the heck is a SCOBY and why does it look like something from the Alien movies (more on that below), and most importantly, how do we start brewing at home.
As she talked and demonstrated, we had the opportunity to sip a few flavored ones Rachel made in her own kitchen, including a berry-flavored one and a ginger-lime mix.
At the end of the workshop, we were each given our own baby SCOBY to love and nurture (or more accurately, stick in the corner of our fridge until we’re ready to brew), packed in a jar of starter liquid. Brewmaster status, here we come.
Things we learned:
What it is: If you took one look at the headline for this article and went “what the heck is kombucha?” let’s start there. Per Rachel, “Kombucha is a ‘living’ fermented beverage derived from black/green tea and organic cane sugar with the help of a SCOBY.”
SCOBY: SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s also one of the least appetizing things to look at. But the good news is, you don’t have to ingest the slimy mushroom thing, sometimes referred to as “the mother.” Rather, this creature from the deep is “responsible for eating the sugar and producing an array of beneficial organic acids such as glucoronic acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid, B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, and enzymes,” according to Rachel. Whew!
Why We’re Chugging It: Our love of fermented foods is well documented (here and here for example). A fermented food (like kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.), kombucha is “loaded with probiotics that help to populate our gut with the ‘good’ bacteria that supports our overall gut health.” Among its other benefits, kombucha (and other fermented foods) is known to help to absorb nutrients from food better, relieve gas/bloating, strengthen immunity, promote a positive mood, combat depression, and increase energy. And that’s just the first few in a long list of reasons to swig the stuff.