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The Kombucha Craze!

The Kombucha Craze!

Kombucha cultures are a yellowish color.

Tricia Martin | Chef's Blade

Today, a baby was delivered to my doorstep. A kombucha baby that is! The past few months I have been an avid kombucha drinker. The taste of kombucha is one of umami, meaning “delicious” in Japanese. There are many theories about how many tastes our tongues can detect; ayurveda says there are six—sweet, salty, sour, butter, pungent, astringent—while science says we have five: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.

Over a hundred years ago, French chef Auguste Escoffier, and, simultaneously, half way across the world, a Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda were toying with the same idea—there is something more to this dish than just salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. Escoffier was the inventor of veal stock; opening his own restaurant in Paris, he used his stock as a basis for most dishes and the restaurant was wildly popular…delicious stock maybe? Ikeda used his laboratory to find out what the ‘delicious’ taste was he was finding in so many of his favorite foods; he soon found out it was glutamic acid but he decided to rename it. He called it “umami,” which means “delicious” or “yummy” in Japanese.

Fermented foods have the umami property as well—kombucha is a fermented drink. Unlike beer or wine, the alcoholic properties are slight; kombucha is instead better known for it’s amazing effects on the digestive and immune systems. Online, I found the entry: “Much like yogurt, a cup of kombucha can be reserved to make the next batch. This is because it is a living brew, with microorganisms that are beneficial to our digestive tract and others claim help other internal systems. The culture is not a fungus, as some report, but a mixture of bacteria and yeast that forms a gelatinous, yellowish substance.”

Sounds kind of gross, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t exactly look all that pretty either. However, when I was told that I sat up in the middle of the night and said clear as day, “I can’t wait to make Kombucha!” only to promptly lay back down and have absolutely no recollection of this the next day, I knew I had to act. So I got on Craigslist, and a lovely woman dropped off a kombucha mother and it’s baby right to my doorstep today. Amazing!

I’ve been doing some reading and found this additional article if you were interested in reading more. There is so much out there on how to brew it, what it is, best methods, and how best to drink it, this is only the tip of the iceburg. Time to get fermenting!

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