A Kombucha culture looks like an alien or maybe a jellyfish! It's also known as a Manchurian Mushroom but it is in fact a culture of bacteria and yeast and is refereed to as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast)
The kombucha culture is used to make a fermented drink full of pro-biotics which help balance our gut microbiome and can help improve digestion. There are a range of potential health benefits as with other ferments. If you are new to ferments, start slowly as your body adjusts to the new bacteria. And don't forget that including a ferment in your diet may not eliminate a symptom or condition you are experiencing, it may even exacerbate a health condition (such as SIBO for example) so it's wise to work with a Naturopath to understand the root cause of your particular situation, eliminate foods or substances that are causing any disturbances and determine whether ferments are suitable for you.
That said, if you would like to give it a go, here's the process:
A kombucha drink is made by feeding a scoby a brew of tea and sugar. The culture converts the glucose and the tannins into a pro-biotic drink. The taste can range from something similar to a refreshing sparkling wine through to strong apple cider vinegar, depending on the fermentation, time, the amount of sugar and type of tea that you use in the brew. The older, tart tea is more acidic and has a higher level of healing properties than a young, mild and slightly sweet brew.
What you need:
1 kombucha scoby
2 litres of water
4 tea bags or 4 teaspoons of tea (green, white, or black tea)
160 grams of white sugar
100 ml of kombucha from a previous batch as a starter or 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar if you don't have any kombucha.
Place teabags (or loose tea) into a bowl and pour boiling water over tea. Leave it to brew and sit for at least ten minutes before removing the tea leaves or bags. When your tea is at room temperature, you can strain it and pour the tea into your brewing bowl. Add the scoby and the starter liquid. It is important that it has cooled completely - if it is above 35 degrees C, the starter can die.
Cover it with a clean fine cloth that lets tea breathe and secure with an elastic band. Place somewhere quiet out of sunlight, where it will remain at a stable temperature between 23oC - 30oC. Communicate with your culture! Send it good vibes!
Within a few days, it will smell fermented. The brewing time depends on the temperature, and your taste requirements. You may need to poke the scoby back down into the liquid so the top doesn’t dry out during brewing.
After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your brew, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time. If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days. Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference.
Remove the scoby that has formed on the top, and transfer it to your next brew. Also keep some of the brew as a starter.