Kombooza (The Adventures of Mr. Chia)

My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

By now you should know about me and kombucha. I love the stuff.

I brew gallons of it at a time, and sometimes I still run out and have to go buy some. I can’t seem to make a road trip of any length without it.

Seriously. A few months ago I was driving from NC to NY and I stopped at FOUR different grocery stores on my quest for kombucha (this was before I was successfully brewing my own booch and stowing gallon jars full of the stuff behind the seat in my car). I finally found some at the fourth store and was able to continue on my journey after purchasing several bottles.

So my last experiment – and the reason behind this post – was kombucha with chia seeds in it. Those of you who buy your booch at the grocery store have probably seen it before: Raspberry chia or grape chia kombucha. My fellow crunchy, hippie types out there will agree with me that it’s very yummy. In fact, I think raspberry chia is probably my favorite booch flavor ever (although gingerberry rates a close second…).

Since I only rarely have to buy my booch these days, I, of course, wanted to replicate the wonderful chia booch at home.

Now, most people would probably go look up a recipe of some sort to find out how to make this awesomely smelly and slimy beverage.

I am not most people.

Well, seriously though. How hard could it be?? It’s just kombucha and chia seeds, right!?

So while I was bottling up a batch of booch to second ferment, I poured a bunch of chia seeds into one of the jars.

Oh, don’t look at me that way! I know that chia seeds expand and gel up, and I didn’t pour in too many. It was a quart jar, and I only added maybe a quarter cup or so of seeds.

Cranked the lid on, and set it to second ferment up with the other jars.

I usually let my booch second ferment for about 3 days. Day 2 was when all the excitement started.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table with most of the family, enjoying dinner, when I hear this hissing and spitting sound coming from the shelf where I keep my booch.

“Oh, boy.” I immediately knew what was going on, and went to check and see which of my jars was blowing off steam (errr… gas, in this case).

Sure enough. Mr. Chia was the culprit. BIG TIME. He’d built up so much pressure that the lid to his jar was crumpled outward and nearly bursting. I set him in the sink and got one of the brothers to remove his lid, as he proceeded to ooze chia slime everywhere.

Great! Crisis averted! The chia booch bomb didn’t actually explode, and I still had 3/4 of the jar full of liquid!

I put a new lid on and popped it back up on the shelf, lightly brushing aside my mom’s feeble protests and murmurs of apprehension.

There it sat for the next day, with no obvious misbehavior.

However, unbeknownst to me, Mr. Chia was acting up. He didn’t want to be booch anymore.

He wanted to be booze.

Unconscious of the switch from bacterial to yeast fermentation that was occurring in my jar, I grabbed Mr. Chia as I headed out the door this morning. There’s a no food or drink rule in the music department of the college I was tutoring at, so he stayed in my car (in the sun) all morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon, as my sisters and I were headed to the mall, that I cracked him open and took a sip.

“Oh my goodness!” I sputtered and immediately started filling in my sisters: “this has a very distinct alcoholic smell and taste to it. It’s not booch anymore, it’s booze! This is awesome! Whoda thunk adding chia seeds could turn this stuff into booze!”

That’s when it struck me.

I was driving down the highway, sipping kombooza.

Drinking and driving, folks. For real. I’m a criminal.

*Hangs head in shame, but not too much shame, cuz what’s one more crime in the grand scheme of things, really?*

I should have driven more carefully after realizing that, though. (I was gonna write “I did drive more carefully after realizing that,” but I’m not gonna lie to y’all…)

‘Cuz I think we can all imagine how that conversation with the arresting officer would have gone down:

“Yes, I know it smells and looks like moonshine, but honest, officer, its not! It’s just booch – er, kombucha!

What’s kombucha?? Well, it’s a fermented sweet tea… but not a BAD kind of fermented, not like alcohol fermented, just the GOOD kind of fermented!

No, seriously, sir, there are different kinds of fermentation! A lot of fermented things aren’t actually alcoholic. It’s true! Just look it up! This is a different kind of fermentation than alcohol. It’s bacterial fermentation instead of yeast fermentation. Although this batch did go a little yeast-y on me, and that’s why it smells like alcohol…

It’s not, though! Honest, officer! It’s not alcoholic, it won’t get me drunk, I promise! It just keeps my gut bugs happy!

Gut bugs, sir? Like, the bugs -er, bacteria – that live in your gut! Didn’t you know about that? No, really, it’s the truth! Ask anyone! You’ve got trillions of bacteria in your gut, and fermented foods – not fermented like alcohol, but things like this kombucha, keeps the bugs happy!

No, no, that’s not what I meant, sir – not happy as in DRUNK, just happy as in HEALTHY! Honest, officer! Would I lie to you??”

Yeah… I think I’d probably better stick to actual kombucha while in the car from here on out.

I fully plan to have a whole collection of hilarious, funny, crazy, stupid stories about myself to tell my kids when or if I ever have kids. But I don’t plan on one of those stories being about the time mommy got locked in jail for drinking and driving, because the officer didn’t understand the kombooza phenomenon.

Love, N.

P.S. I’ve since done a little research and found out that it would probably work better to add the chia seeds AFTER the second ferment if I want to keep my booch booch and not booze. (The question is – do I want to keep my booch just booch?)


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