by student blogger Leah
“Do you even know this guy?” my roommate asked me as she flicked on her brights to see the road ahead of us as her car sped along the tiny back road, “Well---technically,” I started, “So, no?” she finished for me. “He’s a friend of friend of a girl we go to school with…” I said the words, suddenly aware of how crazy it was that I had convinced her to drive 45 minutes away after 9 pm on a weeknight into the backwoods of New York where I would pick up this thing I kept calling a SCOBY.
“It’s sooooo cool,” I gushed as I described the ancient practice that utilizes this colony of bacteria to ferment strong, sweet black tea into kombucha. My enthusiasm alone might’ve won her over but the fact was we were in this together now and I smiled at her for trusting me.
The guy who had agreed to sell me a piece of his SCOBY was located in a beautiful barn-style house across the river from where I had just started culinary school. He reached into a huge glass jar stored in the back of his fridge and pulled out a tan colored slimy disc that he dumped into a plastic sandwich baggy.
I gave him $10 cash and rode off with my prize. Three years later my original SCOBY appears to have died in the back of my parent’s fridge in Virginia, but a second “mother” lives on in my apartment in New York that I grew from my friend’s kombucha. The SCOBY is that floating white jelly thing at the top of the jar. I have named her Mama Booch. She’s beautiful.
This is the article that started it all for me in high school and sparked my curiosity about kombucha. The recipe at the end of the article is the exact same one that I followed tonight while I started a batch of booch that I will share with my Food Ecology class in two weeks. Apparently, the Washington Post was ahead of the curve because this stuff that is so cheap to make at home now sells for $5+ a bottle in grocery stores and boutique corner stores.
I do not advise entertaining strange lapses in judgment to meet a stranger at night for a piece of a SCOBY. I do advise pursuing personal interests because that original SCOBY was the impetus for what I suspect will be a life long love affair with fermented foods.