JeJu

Pee Tea

In food on 04/30/2009 at 8:07 pm

Our crew trekked to the Hudson today for lunch at Fairway, barely making it back in time to ride the Barone-y Pony, our prof’s name of himself. Ah, the self-deprecating Doogie Howser genius, my new hero! I’ve never enjoyed being in lecture for eight hours a day in my whole life. Weird, I know. So what did I discover today from a free sample? Kombucha!

I had only seen Kombucha beverage in the deli with a New Age-y Earth Mother label, going for $6 a bottle. It was the upper east side, but still…that’s pretty outrageous for something you’re gonna pee out in a couple hours. The sample I had today was a bit tangy and carbonated, though the sample dude claimed there was no carbonation involved. Maybe he was too busy snapping photos of customers in action rather than reading the label.

Carpe Diem was the label on this bottle. Some propaganda from the company website, “Kombucha was known as early as the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.). The mystical drink was long a part of the ancient philosophy of Zen, esteemed for its harmonising effect on the body and soul. The symbol of Zen, the archer, embodies the absolute concentration on body, mind and soul – the moment of perfect harmony.

Only when all senses are directed toward a single goal is one capable of the greatest acts, according to the ancient teaching. And this complete harmony itself is also frequently ascribed to Kombucha by the Zen masters.” Uh….what?

I’d never been a fan of herbal teas, basically infusions of anything in water other than the tea bush. Roobios, blech. But my recent experience with yerba mate makes me think that the propaganda of tea is just so supreme that they managed to inculcate itself into American history. So all people know about is tea. Besides coffee, you think the only other proper alternative is tea. It’s like the first mover advantage theory from economics 101.

“The production process  starts with the mixing of a finely balanced herbal tea mixture. The tea brew is sweetened with fructose, then Kombucha cultures and lactobacilli are added. The sweet tea is the ideal nutrient for the microorganisms. During a strictly controlled fermentation process, special metabolic products – beneficial organic acids and carbohydrate-digesting enzymes – are formed.

Generally speaking, fermentation is the transformation of nutrients by bacteria and enzymes. Sweetened (with fructose) tea, fruit juice or even milk can be used as the base.  In Carpe Diem, beneficial organic acids and carbohydrate-digesting enzymes are formed during the fermentation process with Kombucha / Kefir cultures. The process takes approximately 5-7 days to complete.

The production of Carpe Diem Kombucha / Kefir takes place in state-of-the-art facilities designed around a germ-free, hermetically sealed system. Ingredients and cultures are subject to careful inspection and strict controls accompany every production step. Only through the complex interaction of the various substances it contains can the holistic effects of Kombucha be realised.” Ooh…

Okay what does Wiki say: “The culture contains a symbiosis of Acetobacter (acetic acid bacteria) and yeast, mostly Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Zygosaccharomyces bailii. The culture itself looks somewhat like a large pancake, and though often called a mushroom, a Mother of vinegar or by the acronym SCOBY (for “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast”), it is clinically known as a zoogleal mat.”

This is sounding way too much like Microbiology, the dreaded subject of medical students. Little creepy crawlies rule the earth, but now I gotta drink them too? All I know is that this stuff cost $1.69 at Fairway, and it tastes like unsweetened preserved plums, a Taiwanese snack. My Indian classmate commented that the regular expensive stuff is really bitter and gross. So this version must be targeting mainstream soda swillers. It’s really just regular sweetened black tea, used as nutrients by some bacteria, and regurgitated as a natural Tang. Yep, that’s right, it’s Pee Tea! Or, if you’re squeamish, think of it as sourdough tea. Yeah, hit me with some of that ‘shroom. I think I see  Kombucha moonshine in the very near future.

making mother happy

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  1. My mom has a Kombucha fungus garden in her pantry.

  2. what?! no way!! cool! we’ll hafta put in a request for some baby spawn after we move.

  3. Val, what else does your mother have in her pantry? Can we raid it?

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