Have you heard of kombucha?
Well... have you heard of kefir? How about yogurt?
If neither of the others, at least you have most likely heard of the last one. =]
Probiotics is what makes each of these things so "healthy."
As I mentioned in my post on whole foods, we in our modern society have become obsessed with making bacteria go away. And, when we are talking about harmful bacteria, this is indeed a good thing. However, not all bacteria is harmful. Actually, our body really needs bacteria in order to live. Things containing this beneficial bacteria that help our body are called "probiotics." Pro, meaning "for" or "good"; biotic referring to bacteria.

Most societies have some form of probiotic food in their traditional diet. Often these foods are valued because they do not go bad as easily as their non-fermented cousins. Think of yogurt (vs milk), cultured buttermilk, sourdough starter, ginger beer, etc. Even traditional ketchup was a probiotic culture! (Store-bought bottled ketchup is not, however).

Kombucha is one of these traditional probiotic things. Evidently it originated in Asia (northern area of China, I believe), and it is a fermented tea. I discovered it recently as I was blog-surfing and became curious. I love yogurt... would I like kombucha?

Further investigation revealed that a friend of mine from church makes her own kombucha, and I got a starter from her. I also bought a bottle of kombucha at the grocery store, just to have something to compare my homemade against. I'm going to be honest, though: the first sip I took was not the best experience of my life. It had a strong, vinegary flavor. My first thought was "apple cider vinegar"! My husband also did not particularly love it. However, I determined to make at least one batch and drink it and see if it improved with time.

I am now making my third batch of kombucha, and my impression of it has indeed improved. First of all, my homemade kombucha is nowhere near as strong as the store-bought that I tried. It is a much milder, slightly tart, fizzy, refreshing drink. It still does carry a slightly vinegary flavor, but it is actually pretty good... kind of like lemonade, almost. But different.

At this point I will say, I might not have been particularly happy with it if I had gone out and bought a $15 starter culture or if it was very hard to make, but since I got my starter for free, and it takes very little work to make, this "healthy," probiotic tea is going to stick around for me. The taste grows on you. At this point, even my husband drinks it willingly.

I will also say that drinking kombucha has helped me to kick my over-the-top caffeine habit. I was drinking 4-5 cups of coffee a day, since my 7-month-old was sleeping horribly, and I'm sure my excessive caffeine intake was not helping his sleep issues. Since replacing my mid-day pick-me-up with a half-glass of kombucha, I was able to cut back to one small cup of coffee a day within a few days, without any caffeine headaches or noticeable energy loss. My son has also started to sleep much better... I don't know if the caffeine affected him or if it was one of the myriad of other things I have tried to get him to sleep better, but I do know that drinking less caffeine is probably much better for me.

Here is the blog post I used to learn to make kombucha: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-kombucha-tea-at-home-173858

Maybe you should try it, too! If you are near me (Oklahoma City) and want to try it, let me know and I'd be happy to share my starter!

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