Kombucha frightens some people. The floaty bits, the cloudiness, the vinegar-y funk. The fermented tea isn't for everyone. But when you start seeing it on tap at bars and for sale at just about every corner store, you know that some people are drinking it.
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I have to admit I was a bit taken aback when I came across kombucha recipes in Andrew Schloss's Homemade Soda since I'd always thought of this fermented tea as more of a health tonic than an easy drinking soda. But when you think about it, kombucha does fall into the flavored carbonated beverage category, regardless of how good for you if might be. Since kombucha has been on my try-it-out-at-home list for quite a while, giving one of Schloss's fermented tea recipes a whirl seemed like the perfect excuse to delve into the world of kombucha mothers and babies.
All the NYC-based Kombucha addicts I know are divided into two camps: some are loyal to Kombucha Brooklyn and the others would never stray from tart, fizzy BAO Kombucha. For me, it depends on which flavors I'm craving.
Of the plain and flavored kombuchas that One Lucky Duck makes in-house, the best is their Passionfruit Kombucha ($7/bottle). Both tart and rounded, One Lucky Duck's version is significantly less fizzy than Brooklyn Kombucha and the popular GT's Kombucha.
I'm a certified Diet Coke fiend, but I'm gradually replacing my daily can with a glass bottle of Kombucha Brooklyn. Health reasons? That's a legitimate starting point, but I continued only because it tasted good; the barely sweet and light fizziness of the drink is decidedly addictive.
It's hard to compare the taste of kombucha (comb-boo-cha), the fermented tea drink, to anything else. Vinegary, fizzy, cider-y, or just plain nasty if you haven't given it a chance yet. Then again, some people (particularly those who drank vinegar as a kid) like it from sip one. The leaders of the market are GT's Kombucha, but brands like Honest Tea are appearing on shelves, and some "kombuchaseurs" are brewing their own at home.
A typical way to describe kombucha is to say it’s fermented mushroom tea. So when faced with a choice of a well made cappuccino or fermented mushroom tea, that voice inside your head may scream, "double cap extra foam." But Uzbekistan-born Lev Kilun will let you sample his house made kombucha on-tap while you wait for your organic espresso drink at Café Lyon in the Rockridge district of Oakland, California. Before your double cap is done brewing, you might wish you ordered the kombucha instead....