Book Review - Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes For Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs And Mixers

Book Review - Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes For Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs And Mixers

Marya Errin Jones
5 min read
The Mighty Booch
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Kombucha, sometimes called “mushroom tea,” is a tangy and effervescent fermented beverage.The “mushroom” is actually a cellulose-based, symbiotic colony of bacteria yeast (SCOBY) that, when fed and cultivated under the right conditions, produces a tangy and delicious drink. It’s said that kombucha was first consumed in China more than 2,000 years ago. Then it made a trek across all of Asia, Japan and Eastern Europe, and through the hippie movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Eventually, kombucha found its way into the perfectly toned abdomens of yoga enthusiasts and the mouths of high-falutin’ foodies who pay upwards of five dollars a bottle for it. Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs and Mixers by Stephen Lee (and Ken Koopman) makes it easy and egalitarian, to brew kombucha at home.

When it comes to kombucha, people divide themselves into two camps: those who enjoy the tangy, effervescent beverage made from sweetened tea that’s left in a jar in the dark to be digested by a very unphotogenic zoogleal mat of bacteria and yeast that “excretes” probiotics into it—and those who think we’re crazy. (I prefer the term, “Kombucha Evangelist.” Thanks.)

Entrepreneur Stephen Lee, co-founder of Tazo Tea and Stash Tea and the founder of Kombucha Wonder Drink obviously loves the mighty “booch” enough to help bridge the gap between the adventurous and the apprehensive.
Kombucha Revolution is full of short and sweet anecdotal tidbits, surrounded by color-saturated, mouth-watering photos of exotic berry smoothies, potent mixers and sophisticated salads. It’s a 151-page equivalent to hiding the pill in the slice of bread so you’ll take your medicine. And boy, kombucha is tasty medicine.

The amber-colored drink hosts a bevy amino acids, B-vitamins and more. Noted health benefits include but are not limited to a boost for the immune system and a drug-free means to help regulate blood pressure. Russian dramatist/novelist and Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn credited the brew’s detoxifying properties with helping force his stomach cancer into remission. Although the FDA has issued more warnings than actual data from clinical trials, there’s clearly something beneficial to adding kombucha or other fermented foods to one’s diet. Lee’s book presents a strong case offering up provocative recipes like Kombucha Lime Ceviche and Green Papaya Salad, Kombucha Pear Sorbet, and Cranberry Bitters Cocktails.

Having brewed this delicious drink for five years, I can definitely say it’s a curious habit, and I am eager to find new and creative ways to use up the gallon or so my “kombucha girls” make every other week. Yes, I call them girls and yes, they have names, Gertrude and Alice, if you’re interested.

More like "Gertrude the 12th" and "Alice the 14th," because as the “mothers” regenerate, they produce a “baby” with every batch. Here’s what I mean—imagine being in an episode of Doctor Who where the main character, a cellulose paddy in a big jar, replicates when you look at it. Welcome to my world. Hence the need for brewmaster recruitment.  Sounds a little scary, but luckily, Lee demystifies the kombucha-making process, so it’s not a strange work of science fiction, but an opportunity to learn to brew a superfood in the privacy of your own closet, and share the fun of fermentation with others. Many others. Take my mother,

All who brew have a “first mother” story. The summer of 2009 I was taught how to brew kombucha from a former roommate.  I remember being fascinated and a little afraid of my first SCOBY floating in her jar. Over 200 batches later, brewing has become second nature to me, even if the occasional, misshapen human-face-like zoogleal mat freaks me out.

Lee recounts how he discovered kombucha in 2001, while on a visit to Russia in search of tea. His host, a Mrs. Lisovski who’d been making a batch of kombucha every week since 1939, took the curious American businessman under her wing.  After developing a taste for the tart, bubbly brew, Lee returned to Portland, Ore. with a SCOBY “baby” and a cup of kombucha that served as the “starter” for the making of his first batch. The rest is history.  

Or, five dollars a bottle.

Although Lee has made millions selling bottles of his Kombucha Wonder Drink nationwide, his book
Kombucha Revolution seems to suggest that Lee isn’t just in it for the money. Kombucha Revolution is a refined guide to making a most ancient of fermented foods. The book is for the intrepid and the timid, alike. Thanks to Mrs. Lisovski, Lee gives us the gift that keeps on giving. No really—I have a kombucha “mother” if anyone needs one. Or two.
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