A few Spring’s ago, I was at my children’s elementary school for their open house/art show. I was standing in the doorway of my son’s classroom when I saw one of my best friends form Cincinnati...this is where I wish there was a combination of letters that could join together to make the sound of the needle scratching the record. If you were there in the moment where someone has planned to surprise you, that moment where their plan is coming to fruition right at the moment where you are being made aware that there was something everyone knew about but you. The something was all about you. In that moment, there is no way to get your brain to clue in to all of the moving parts of the plan. The surprise of the moment smacks you in the face no, wait, it body slams you emotionally. It is such a mix of confusion and elation that your mind doesn’t recognize it and it fails you miserably for a moment and the feeling is so extreme that you lose control of your face.
That is where I found myself when I saw my friend Chad, who supposed to be in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was in my child’s classroom doorway in California. I cried my face off while it was explained to me that he and my husband's bestie, Scott had come to surprise me for my birthday.
(Side note, it serves me right as Scott and I ambushed, I mean surprised, Chad on his birthday a year or two earlier.)
What does this have to do with kombucha? A few years earlier, Chad bought a couple of bottles of locally brewed Cincinnati kombucha called Fab Ferments. He used it to start his own kombucha at home. He repeatedly told me how easy and how cost effective it was to brew your own. Finally, I gave in and tried to start my own when we lived in Texas. You’re supposed to put it in a cool, dark cabinet to brew for a couple of weeks. The cabinet I chose was under the sink with the cleaning supplies so it failed to form a scoby/mother/culture.
Chad packed up a kombucha culture from his brew in a ziplock bag with some of his kombucha and flew it to California as my birthday present.
I didn’t want to kill a living birthday present so I took it seriously, followed Chad’s recipe, brewed the kombucha and was successful for a couple of years.
When we moved to Singapore, I took the mother, dehydrated it and ended up with a circular piece of leather looking scoby. This relocated with me to Singapore where I re-hydrated it with the most expensive store bought kombucha I've ever purchased and continued to brew my kombucha. As it’s important to find your tribe, later I found a fermentation group; friends that could have saved my start up costs by sharing their home brew…
I enrolled in a Traditional Chinese Medicine class that was taught in English. This was an anomaly because all of the Singapore Traditional Chinese Medicine School classes were taught in Chinese. A Turkish expat talked to the school, got 20 people together to learn about Chinese Medicine and the school found an English speaking teacher for us.
Before class one day, I was talking to someone about brewing kombucha. Another student, we’ll call her Sandra because that’s her name, says, “I brew my own kombucha.” I wish, like the needle on the record, there was a way to convey the unique way Singaporeans speak, I miss that.
Long story short (too late for that!): Sandra went to culinary school in New York where she met a friend that introduced her to Fab Ferments from Cincinnati. Sandra transported a small bottle of the kombucha home to Singapore and started her scoby from scratch!
During our time in Singapore, our Australian neighbor’s mother (or mum) was visiting. She gave me her kombucha to take care of while they were away. So…”I mated” hers and mine; I poured them in together and brewed kombucha from both. I split the mother into two parts when she returned.
So, when we moved back to California I dehydrated my Singporean/Australian/Cincinnatian to get it home then re-hydrated it and continued to brew it and share it, mainly with my friend Kai.
Life was good for my kombucha upon our return but after a few years, I neglected it and it got spoiled. This rarely happens but it happened.
Luckily, Kai shared back a piece of mother and the original Cincinnati/Singaporean/Australian kombucha lives on!
PS-In checking my facts to the story with Sandra, she sadly informed me that her kombucha that originated from Fab Ferments has turned bad and she no longer has it. My dehydrator will be put to good use so she can get back into business!