Eight weeks ago, I did something quite Old Testament. I took a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeasts, and I sacrificed it on a rock in the front yard.
This SCOBY is the progeny of a kombucha culture that I have been carrying around for the last 5 years, and as a bit of a ceremonialist, I decided that a scoby sacrifice was a fitting ritual for this summer of big changes.
You see, I am about to begin naturopathic medical school.
I did not sacrifice all of the scoby. Although I considered it, thinking,” I’ve been carrying this thing around with me for 5 years. That is a freaking long enough.”
But then, I couldn’t do it. In that moment of ceremony, the scoby took on all sorts of meaning. I remembered the girl from California who brought me the ancestor of that scoby to the island of St. Croix where I worked on a permaculture farm in the rainforest. I remembered smuggling it off the island in the middle of my suitcase surrounded by chicken feathers and horse teeth and tag-a-long live cockroaches.
I remembered brewing batches of kombucha with feisty teenagers in New York who were thrilled to get to drink something with a 0.5% alcohol content. And the time one of the cultures got infested with maggots and Sim, one of my co-counselors, held it up to show the teens, and I knocked it from his hand into a campfire.
I remembered teaching loads of excited adults about brewing kombucha at a wonderful farm in southeastern Michigan and a beautiful cooking school on the coast of Maine.
I remembered drinking the brew in celebration and in despair, with purpose and in times when I knew only confusion.
And so, I didn’t sacrifice all of the scoby. I put a layer in a jar.
And then I put it in my car, and had an amazing road trip across the country with my mom.
Now, eight weeks later, I’m settled at Bastyr University in Washington state. I just finished an Organic Chemistry Intensive, and I am ready to start med school.
I also brewed the best batch of kombucha I have ever brewed. Good thing I held onto a bit of that scoby.
Here’s how you do it:
Lavender Blackberry Ginger Buch
1 kombucha scoby
5 tea bags (green or black)
1 cup sugar
3 quarts water
1 large fermentation vessel
Make sweet tea with the 1 cup sugar, tea bags, and water. Let cool to room temperature. (You can add ice if you want to speed the process). Add sweet tea to fermentation vessel and add kombucha culture. Cover with a cloth a rubberband to secure the cloth. Wait 7-10 days until the kombucha is to your liking. It will get less sweet and more acidic, the longer you wait.
2 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lavender
3 tablespoons sugar
About 3 days before your primary fermentation of your kombucha is finished, begin preparing your secondary fermentation. Smash the berries with the grated ginger, sugar, and lavender in a jar. Cover loosely with a lid. Stir the mixture 3-5 times each day until it starts bubbling. It should bubble by day 2 or 3 depending on the temperature outside. Combine the berry ferment with the finished kombucha (remove the scoby before you do this.) Bottle in pop top bottles. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days to get carbonated. That’s it….drink it as is or strain out the blackberries and enjoy!