Known in China for over 2000 years, Kombucha has gained worldwide popularity in recent years. A fermented drink, it is often said to have medicinal properties against all sorts of ailments: edema, arteriosclerosis, rheumatism, gout, fungal infections, stones, digestive disorders, PMS, ...

Few of these benefits have been scientifically established to date, but the drink itself can be pleasantly refreshing and flavored.

The Japanese name evoques a seaweed (kombu) tea (cha), although the reference to seaweed is inappropriate. It is a sweet Camelia sinensis (usually) tea fermented with an aerobic culture of bacteriae and yeasts. Fermentation for ten days gives a nutrient-rich drink containing acetic, gluconic, lactic, malic, usnic acids, Vitamins B and C.

Recipes are numerous, but the production of kombucha is easy (ours is from local producer). Here' how.

1. Get the proper symbiotic mix of bacteriae and yeasts called the mother

2. Make a tea, usually with Camelia sinensis (essential oils in aromatic brands tend to inhibiti fermentation)

3. Add sugar (75 g of table sugar per litre, for instance), stir and cool somewhat

4. Pour in a glass or ceramic jar, so it is partially filled

5. Add kombucha (80 ml / l) or vinegar (30ml / l) to acidify

6. Add the mother and cover with a cloth to keep insects away

7. Let stand for at least 10 days between 24o and 30oC

8. If molds appear on the surface, dispose of liquid and the mother and start anew

9. Remove the mother and refrigerate for long term reuse later on

10. Pour the kombucha in a bottle (keep some to acidify future productions)

11. Optionally :

a. For flavoring or raising the alcohol content (more than the 0.5% normally obtained), add juice for a 2nd fermentation, aerobic which will give a new mother or anaerobic which will increase further the alcohol content

b. To gasify, extend the fermentation in the bottle for a few days, adding a little (avoid excessive pressure and bursting) sugar before caping

12. Refrigerate and drink when ready (about one litre for this recipe).

Note: Production of a mother can be achieved by pouring kombucha in a wide-mouth jar, covering with a cloth to keep insects away and letting it sit for a few days until a gelatinous white wafer appears floating