Wednesday April 18, 2012 | 02:20 PM

My husband and I have been experimenting with making the fermented tea-based drink, kombucha. A friend recently offered me a scoby (the mushroom-like culture) because she's a fan of making it. I enthusiastically accepted it, along with her instructions on how to make it. My latest trial was a really tasty batch that my 16-year-old daughter documented through the fermentation process.

My co-worker Avery just wrote about the Urban Farm Fermentory, a local company now selling this drink commercially in Maine. Right now it is considered alcoholic per Maine's guidelines for selling it but kombucha has a very long history for its health benefits (and none of it related to anyone getting drunk on the very small amount of alcohol it can develop as a result of its fermentation process).

My daughter decided to learn more about the science of kombucha and being a photography enthusiast, opted to document her daily observations of the fermentation process with her camera.

It was fascinating.

The scoby floats around in the tea (I brewed black tea before adding the scoby) for a few days while the fermentation process first gets started.

You aren't supposed to have the jar in direct sunlight, which we did not. But my daughter did put it in front of a window for better lighting for her brief photo sessions.

Near the end of the fermentation process, about 8 days for this particular batch, the scoby floats to the top and sort of forms a light seal at the top of the jar. This helps develop the final product's effervescence because when it's done it does taste like a carbonated drink.
I believe because this kid spent 8 days observing and photographing this batch of kombucha, she wanted to taste it. We used a straw to gently move the scoby aside and take a sip in the middle of the jar.
G. declared this batch tasty, despite how "disgusting" the scoby looked. Her sister concurred.
We prefer our kombucha to be a little more sweet than the commercial brand we tried from Urban Farm. But that's the great thing about learning to make your own, you can make it to your liking. Our homemade batches have simply been made with black tea but we will be experimenting with herbal flavors soon.
Comments from the Almeida peanut gallery (kids):
"It looks disgusting! Are you really going to drink that? (she braves a taste) Oh, I guess it does taste good."
"It has a tang you feel at the back of your throat."
"I'm surprised it tastes like soda (meaning it tasted carbonated)."
"This is totally weird, but it's good!"

About the Author

Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.

On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.

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