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Foodie Friday: Kombucha

Recipe Credit: Brothers Green Eats

Note: When preparing kombucha, you are handling a live bacteria culture in a fermentation process. Should your culture begin to look and smell questionable, do err on the side of caution so as to avoid turning your tea into vinegar or to avoid introducing outside sources of bacteria.

Yields: 2 Gallons

Ingredients:
-12 Bags Black or Green Tea
-16 cups filtered water
-1.5 cups white sugar
-Large jars (disinfected)
-Cheesecloth
-Airtight, seal-able brewing bottles
-Scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)
-Flavoring agent (recommended fruits, herbs, etc.)

A scoby (the mat of bacteria floating in the jar on the left side of the picture) is a live bacteria culture which breaks down and ferments sweet tea. Scobys are easy to purchase from Amazon - or, if you know somebody who brews kombucha, you can request a scoby from them, as with each fermentation process, the scoby will reproduce and add another layer. It’s recommended that between batches of kombucha, you remove the oldest layer so as to maintain fresh scoby and fresh kombucha. If your first batch does not come out perfect, do not worry! Fermentation takes practice, and with each batch, you will get the hang of it!

1) Bring 8 cups of water to a boil, and steep your tea for about 10 minutes. (You want a very strong brew)

2) Allow the tea to come to room temperature, then transfer into a large jar with the remaining water. Add the sugar and stir to completely dissolve.

3) Add your scoby with some starter kombucha (if you do not have any starter, simply add a little bit of store-bought kombucha - this will increase the acidity and prevent your scoby from dying).

4) Cover the jar with cheesecloth and place in a dark, room temperature place to ferment. (Traditionally, kombucha will be blessed just before setting it aside to ferment). Allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks.

5) After the first ferment, check the kombucha - the color of the brew should have gone from black to golden, and the scoby should appear healthy (no blue, fuzzy bread molds growing on the top layer). If desired, you can check the pH of the kombucha - the goal is 2.5 to 3.5.

6) In your bottles, add some flavoring agents. Remove your scoby from the jar, reserving some of the liquid to help keep it alive. Then fill the bottles with kombucha, leaving a little head space.

7) Allow the bottles to sit for 2-3 days, cracking the top once a day to release excess gas. The kombucha will pressurize and carbonate during this second fermentation.

8) Your kombucha is ready! Refrigerate to halt the fermentation process, and serve cold!

Cook’s Note: When handling your scoby, it’s recommended to do so with clean hands so as to avoid introducing foreign bacteria to the colony. Before handling, wash your hands with a light dish soap (non-antibacterial) or invest in a box of disposable food-safe rubber gloves. This will help prevent your scoby from going bad and will keep the flavors of your kombucha fresh.

Magical Ingredient!

Kombucha has definitely grown in popularity over the last few years, and this is definitely understandable. In addition to its fresh flavors and refreshing fizz, it is also said to have plenty of health benefits - so much so that kombucha has even been called the “elixir of life.”

Here in San Luis, commercially brewed kombucha can be found in any store which sells soda, and a few restaurants have taken to brewing their own kombuchas - a testament to the growing popularity of this delicious beverage.

While the bacteria culture itself might be considered magical (it is the core of the fermentation and carbonation process after all), the magic and history behind tea is absolutely undeniable. Today, we refer to many infusions as “tea,” but true tea is prepared by brewing the leaves of the tea tree itself (camellia sinensis). There are some variations to tea due to the ease by which it can be hybridized, which allows some diversity of flavor and strength to the tea and also allows for regions to have their own “brand” of tea leaves.

Tea drinking has its origins in Eastern Asia, around the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. Here the plant is native, and around the time of the Shang Dynasty the leaves began to be brewed in hot water for medicinal purposes. The drink prepared was a concentrated, bitter infusion that helped stimulate the immune system and help keep the mind awake and focused. Later, during the Tang Dynasty, the practice of tea drinking spread to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Tea drinking would eventually be brought to Europe around the 17th century by the Dutch, who further spread the practice to Germany and France. By the 18th century, tea drinking became widely fashionable in Britain. Tea in Europe was prepared differently than in Asia - the leaves would be allowed to oxidize more than was practiced in Asia, resulting in black tea instead of green or oolong.

For much of the 18th century, tea remained a luxury item in the British Empire, where it was heavily taxed - so much so that it resulted in tea smuggling and several significant historical events, not least of which included the Boston Tea Party (a response of the Tea Act of 1773, which increased the tax on tea). Later on, this desire for tea began to lead to a deficit in trade, and Britain introduced opium to China, an event that would culminate in the Opium Wars.

Desperate to break the Chinese monopoly on the tea trade, Britain began cultivating tea in India between the First and Second Opium wars. The less expensive Indian tea became widely popular, and began to overtake Chinese tea in the industry.

Today, tea is considered to be the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water, and is prepared both green and black in varying ways, from chai to kombucha, to the Star Trek favorite “tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Processing of tea leaves allows for a variety of teas, and its ability to retain aromas allows it to be given additional flavors, such as mint, vanilla, and bergamot. Furthermore, some regions have developed “tea culture” - practices, rituals, and etiquette regarding the preparation, serving, and consumption of tea.

An excellent example of tea culture was recounted to me by my boyfriend, who visited Turkey several years ago. He described being offered tea in every shop and home that he visited, in varying flavors and nearly always served in a small glass with a saucer. To turn down the tea was a faux pas, and to not be offered tea was considered offensive. So enjoyable was his experience that he has since acquired a Turkish tea set, and we occasionally enjoy teas imported from Turkey or brought to us by a friend of ours who holds dual citizenship. 

The health benefits of tea are well known, both as an antioxidant and as an alternative to coffee due to its caffeine content, which helps heighten alertness while maintaining calm in the morning.

In magick, the immediate practice which comes to mind with tea is the practice of tea leaf reading, in which loose leaf green or black tea is prepared and served. The recipient of the reading consumes all but the last few dregs of tea, leaving bits and pieces of tea leaf in the bottom of the cup, which is then swirled  and upended to create patterns on the bottom and sides. These patterns and shapes form the basis of the divination.

Because there is so much economic history behind tea, it can be used in any spells regarding money and prosperity. In addition, it can be added to spells for health, strength, courage, and alertness. Tea can also be used as a money-drawing incense.

For the kitchen witch, tea is indispensable, much like salt or sugar. It forms the basis of many tea spells, and can be used in varying ways. For instance, capturing the healing energies of the sun in sun-brewed tea is a fairly common practice. Sweetened iced tea can be served as a sweetening spell, and serving any kind of tea with intent can make irritable guests more amenable. Tea can be used in baking for the same reasons, resulting in cakes and snacks which have the same properties as long as the intent is added!

For a freebie spell, we can look at one which I use every now and again for my boyfriend, and which I had used almost daily when I was working in the culinary department for a retirement community for a resident who was particularly irritable in the morning. Brew a strong black tea in boiling water (do not stir the bag, and do not ever squeeze the last drops of liquid out of the bag), and fill it with positive intent (for me, usually love, happiness, and calm). Add milk with intent for health, and then inspire sweetness, prosperity, and happiness with honey. Serve while still warm and with a heartfelt smile. Not only does it brighten my boyfriend’s morning, but it worked wonders where the aforementioned resident was concerned.

Consider the benefits tea may bring to your practice. Do you incorporate aspects of tea culture from other parts of the world? Perhaps you’re a fan of a Southern sweet tea spell? Or perhaps you lean toward love and sweetening spells? Maybe you prefer spells prepared over the course of several days, decorating jars for kombucha with sigils and runes for health and prosperity? Regardless, this beverage is steeped in history, and in all of its forms can bring plenty of positive aspects to one’s craft!

May all your meals be blessed! )O(

little-magicpuff  asked:

Your post on bread and flour feels like a flashback to my British history professor ranting about the history of tea and how sugar used to be cool but then as it became accessible it wasn't cool to put in tea anymore. And it came from China but Britain got obsessed and made India farm it. Then America dumped it in the ocean. A bunch of other stuff but that's the gist of what I remember.

LIKE HONESTLY

The habit of drinking sweet tea in Britain is inextricably tied to colonialism and the occupation of India.

And of course British settlers in the US loved their tea too, because caffeine withdrawal is a bitch, but then Britain was taxing tea to the colonists without letting them have a say in Parliament, and THAT whole situation ended with America.

“Juliet, our love can never be…..your father collects cigarette packets, while mine collects computer game packaging.”

– Romeo & Juliet, Act II, scene I (first draft)

anonymous asked:

Just a question what kind of tea do people drink in Britain? Is it like lemon, green, sweet, herb, iced, milk??? I was curious when you mentioned you add sugar and milk in it??

usually just black tea, good lord can you imagine if I put milk and sugar in a fruit or herbal tea fgsdnjfjnfd