Kombucha is the next big thing in probiotics

Kombucha may be thousands of years old, but buzz is now brewing over the nonalcoholic fermented beverage made from tea.

It’s joining the ranks of other fermented food like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut — all probiotic powerhouses touted for their benefits to gastrointestinal health.

While it may not have the star power of Greek yogurt yet, a kombucha craze may soon take hold. That’s thanks in part to Eric and Jessica Childs, the husband-wife team from Prospect Heights behind Kombucha Brooklyn.

Carrot-Ginger-SCOBY Soup at Kombucha Brooklyn. Like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, kombucha promotes gastrointestinal health.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

Carrot-Ginger-SCOBY Soup at Kombucha Brooklyn. Like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, kombucha promotes gastrointestinal health.

“Kombucha is the perfect beverage for New Yorkers,” says Eric, who started KBBK from his Brooklyn apartment in 2004. “First and foremost it’s a detoxifier. Beyond that, it also has energizing properties.”

Since 2007, their kombucha blends like Straight Up, Red Ginger and Lemon Drop have been sold in bottles and on tap at New York’s food markets and grocery stores. As business began to boom, Eric and Jessica found themselves with a lot of extra ‘buch on their shelves, so they started cooking with it.

Their new book “Kombucha!” – on sale November 5 and available for pre-order on kombuchabrooklyn.com – is chock-full of recipes starring the sweet, cidery and slightly fizzy beverage as a salad dressing, braising liquid, cocktail mixer and more, as well as instructions for how to brew your own ‘buch at home.

Jessica Childs pulls some kombucha from the tap at Kombucha Brooklyn.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

Jessica Childs pulls some kombucha from the tap at Kombucha Brooklyn.

In the holistic health world, kombucha’s potent combo of tea, sugar, yeast and bacteria has been credited with boosting immunity, improving digestion and relieving skin problems, and both Childses say they’ve benefited.

Eric suffered from heartburn and adult acne in his 20s, while Jessica, a microbiologist with a certificate from the National Gourmet Institute, had developed a painful “yucky gut” from years of traveling and eating abroad. Those issues cleared up after brewing and drinking kombucha on a regular basis.

When you drink kombucha, “you’re reaping benefits from multiple microorganisms – the yeast and bacteria – plus health benefits and flavor from the ingredients,” Eric says. “Tea is a base that’s already hyped full of healthy and delicious properties, and then you’re giving it a boost with this live culture.”

Jessica Childs adds a tempura SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to Kom Braised Kale with Cranberries and Almonds.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

Jessica Childs adds a tempura SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to Kom Braised Kale with Cranberries and Almonds.

In cooking, kombucha “has such a large flavor profile,” says Jessica. “It can be used to acidify, it can add florality and sweetness, and it can also can ground things because it has an earthy quality.”

Jessica’s Carrot-Ginger-SCOBY Soup uses liquid kombucha as well as chopped-up bits of sweet-tart SCOBY — the “symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria” that forms a cellulose patty atop the kombucha as it brews. “The secret to this recipe is the SCOBYs — they thicken it,” Jessica says. “I also use roasted cashews for the same purpose.”

For the SCOBY Tempura Salad, greens are dressed with a kombucha vinaigrette and garnished with tempura-fried vegetables and pieces of SCOBY. Kombucha goes into the tempura batter as well.

Kombucha is used as a mixer in the tequila cocktail called Dyke-otomy.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

Kombucha is used as a mixer in the tequila cocktail called Dyke-otomy.

Kombucha is added to the braising liquid for the Kom Braised Kale with Cranberries and Almonds. “Kombucha provides a sort of earthy mineral tone to this dish,” says Jessica. “Anything you put on top of it, like the cranberries and almonds, are the accents.”

For the Dyke-otomy — a tequila drink — kombucha is “a functional, practical mixer,” says Eric. “You can replace most of your sours with kombucha and get the healthy benefits.

“Who doesn’t like a little energy with your alcohol?”

Recipe: Carrot-Ginger-SCOBY Soup

Serves: Makes 6 (1 cup) servings


1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

3 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup kombucha or kombucha vinegar (kombucha that’s fermented longer for more acidity)

1 cup chopped kombucha SCOBY

1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice

Salt and pepper


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Toss in carrots and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.

2. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the cashews and stir continuously until the nutty cashew smell starts to fill the room, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Test the carrots in the soup pot for doneness after 15 minutes of simmering. They are done when they are easy to pierce with a fork. When the carrots are cooked, turn off the heat and add the cashews to the soup. Let cool to a comfortable eating temperature, then add the vinegar and the SCOBY pieces. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin it out.

4. Add the ginger juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, refrigerate, and serve cold. A nice raw fermented sour cream, yogurt, or almond yogurt makes a great garnish.

Recipe: SCOBY Tempura Salad

Serves: Makes 4 main course salads


1 cup unbleached cake flour

1 cup white rice flour

1 1/2 quarts liquid coconut oil

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water

1/2 cup cold kombucha

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

Kosher salt

1/4 pound fresh broccoli, trimmed into 2-x- 2 1/2-inch florets

8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

1/2 pound kombucha SCOBY, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 head lettuce, washed and chopped

1/2 cup Simple Kombucha Salad Dressing (see below)

If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute this instead: 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour sifted five times with 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder.


1. Combine the cake flour and rice flour in a medium glass bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. If you have a deep-fry thermometer, use it to monitor the temperature. If not, place a droplet of the prepared batter into the oil to check the temperature. You want it to fizzle and fry when you add it, but you don’t want it to brown too fast. The dollop should last in there for about 45 seconds before it looks like it is browning.

3. Prepare the batter just before you plan to use it. Whisk the egg, seltzer water, and kombucha in a medium bowl. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and whisk to combine. Some lumps may remain, but try to do away with the big ones. Set the glass batter bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice to keep it as cool as possible while you fry.

4. Dip the sweet potatoes into the batter using tongs, drain for 1 second over the bowl, then add to the hot oil. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature as close as possible to 375 degrees. Fry just 6 pieces at a time so you do not reduce the temperature or overcrowd the pot. The tempura is done when it is puffy and very light golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Remove the tempura pieces with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with salt.

6. Repeat the coating and frying process with the broccoli and parsley.

7. Finally, repeat the coating and frying process for the SCOBY pieces.

8. Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates. Place the tempura veggies around the lettuce and toss the tempura SCOBY pieces on top. Drizzle with the dressing and indulge in the healthful balance of fried on raw.

Always serve tempura ASAP. Cooked pieces may be held in a 200-degree oven for up to 20 minutes, but they will start to lose their crispy texture very quickly.

Recipe: Simple Kombucha Salad Dressing

Serves: Makes 1 1/4 cups


3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup kombucha vinegar

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of dried herbs


Combine all the ingredients in a bottle that you can tightly seal. Shake well. That’s it. Enjoy!

Recipes reprinted by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. © Eric and Jessica Childs, 2013.

Recipe: Dyke-otomy

Serves: Makes 1 cocktail


6 ounces silver 100% agave tequila
2 ounces kombucha
3 tablespoons Cinnamon Agave Syrup
½ lemon
Splash of seltzer
1 orange slice
Dash of cinnamon

1 cup agave nectar
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine the agave nectar and hot water and stir to dissolve. Stir in the cinnamon until completely dissolved. Let cool completely before using. Store in the refrigerator between uses for up to 1 month.


1. Pour the tequila and kombucha into a cocktail shaker over ice. Add the Cinnamon Agave Syrup, squeeze in the juice from the lemon, and shake for about 20 seconds.

2. Strain the mixture over ice into a cocktail glass, top with a splash of seltzer, garnish with the orange slice, and sprinkle the cinnamon on top for added beauty and digestibility.

Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Eric and Jessica Childs, 2013.

Health – NY Daily News

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