A lesson in Kombucha.

Do you know what kombucha is?

I am going to tell you all about kombucha, because the activity that I did at The Edge maker space was a kombucha clothing workshop.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is reported to be very good for your gut health because of all the good bacteria it contains.  You may have seen it in bottles in the fridge section of your supermarket or health food shops in flavours like lemon and ginger.

Now, if you do enjoy drinking that supermarket kombucha but you don’t know how it is made, I warn you, you may want to look away now!

Kombucha is made by brewing some sweet tea, allowing it to cool, and then sliding something called the Scoby, more affectionately known as ‘the mother’ into the jar.  The Scoby is a ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’ which ferments away in the tea for about a week, breaking down the sugar and producing bacteria and a few bubbles.(http://(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha))

It looks like this…

'The Mother'
‘The Mother’

And this…

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Mmmmm … Delicious!

You may be wondering what this has to do with the Maker Space.  Well, at The Edge, which is of course or State Library of Queensland maker space, down in the basement, you will find huge tubs of kombucha complete with the biggest scobies you will probably ever see.

The people working on this project at The Edge are not interested in drinking the kombucha; what they are interested in is drying the Scoby and experimenting with using it as a textile!

Here is some dried Scoby ready to be used…

Dried kombucha scoby
Dried kombucha scoby (the crab picture I have lino printed onto the kombucha)

It is very much like leather in its dried form and a few crafts people and designers around the World have been experimenting with using it for clothing.  You can see some here…

http://www.kombuchacouture.com/

In the workshop that I attended at The Edge there was a suggested project of making a wallet out of kombucha or we could do our own thing.  Some people made jewellery, lampshades and bowties.  One of my arts interests is artists’ books, so I was interested to try using the kombucha in a book project.  Here is my finished creation…

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I was a little bit disappointed with it – the kombucha looks so much better when it has the light shining through it, and over time it has darkened quite a lot, but it was still fun to play around with.

People often think of maker spaces as just being 3D printers, but I think this activity shows that it can really be a place for experimentation and developing of new innovations in many different fields.

If you think this sounds amazing and you’d like to try it, you can find some instructions here…

http://www.instructables.com/id/Kombucha-Fabric/

There is also a great Ted Talk about kombucha as a fabric…

Suzanne Lee – Grow your own clothes

 

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “A lesson in Kombucha.”

  1. Hi Sharee,
    Wow, how interesting! I had only a vague idea of what kombucha is, thanks for sharing your knowledge. The workshop at the Edge looks interesting and fun, but I LOVE your creation. As you said, it looks aged, but has loads of character. It reminds me of a medieval book (the cover, that is) . Awesome!

    1. Thanks for your comment and for loving my book Paola! Kombucha is a really interesting textile and I am sure that people will find lots of creative uses for it in the future. Looking up the websites to include in this post actually inspired me to make some earrings out of some of my leftover pieces too. Also, looking at my book now I can see how the kombucha has picked up all the lumps and bumps that were under it so well and moulded itself to these, so it would be great to play around with taking advantage of this feature. If only I had less essays to write and more time to play – counting down to the holidays!!!

  2. Wow Sharee! that is really interesting. I have seen the tea but had no idea about the other possibilities.
    I am very jealous you got to do this workshop, I’ve been itching to do something at the Edge. I’ll have to check out their calendar again.
    I think you’re right the colours do look amazing with the light through it, I can see why people thought to do a lamp shade, but I also think your book looks great too.

    1. Thanks Kaley,
      I have done a few things at The Edge, but to be honest, I’m actually not that impressed with them because it is VERY hard to get in to do anything. If you want to use the 3D printers or the laser cutter you have to do an ‘induction’ first, which they only run once a month (if you’re lucky) for a limited number of people, so it’s hard to get it. Because of that, it feels to me like it’s more of a club for a particular group of people rather than a community facility. I think there’s a whole other blog post there! good luck with getting in to a workshop – it’s a lot of fun when you do. (They have a laser cut timber lampshade one at the moment that looks amazing but is of course all booked out)

  3. I knew nothing about kombucha before this, so your post was highly educational! The Scoby-bound books looks amazing. It’s a shame that they don’t seem to be supporting people who want to learn so much though with limited space inductions.

    1. Thanks Chloe. I was interested to see that there is a privately run maker space out near Hamilton – I’m really keen to check that one out to see if it’s more user friendly.

  4. Hi Sharee,

    This is very informative. I have seen the drink before never actually had one. The first time I saw the drink I thought it was named after a town or city closes I can think was Cambodia as its called Kemboja when pronounce in native language sounds similar to Kombucha. Its good to know its made of good bacteria, well as the saying goes when comes to food looks, taste and health doesn’t have to go together.

    1. Thanks for your comment Steve – that is funny that it is the same name as the town! A lot of people say kombucha is good because of the good bacteria, but there are also records of people dying from drinking too much of it! I think the saying ‘everything in moderation’ is probably a good one to apply, especially when it comes to ingesting bacteria!

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