Kombucha: Tea With A Pinch of Monsters

As far as tea goes, I prefer mine plain, without sugar or milk. At most, I’ll leave the teabag in the cup and allow the dark weedy flavors to permeate the water. As a beverage, it’s the living plant-like taste which draws me to tea and encourages my exploration of new varieties. Recently I had the opportunity to take my tea regiment in a new direction. At the UFM Community Learning Center of Manhattan, Kansas, I learned to develop Kombucha, a truly living drink. While some adhere medicinal-longevity qualities to this tea, I mostly like the flavor, which is similar to apple cider, and the idea of drinking millions of tiny yeasty breeding monsters. Details on making Kombucha follow.

1 two liter jar
1 coffee filter
1 tea kettle
1/2 cup white sugar
4 bags of black tea
1 1/2 liters water
Bring water to a boil. Pour water into a larger class jar. Add teabags and sugar. Mix well. Steep tea until water has cooled to room temperature. Discard teabags. Add SCOBY. Cover jar with coffee filter. Place in a cool dry dark place. Taste after 6-10 days or until desired flavor is reached. Pour most of the liquid into a new jar and place in the fridge. Drink tea until it tastes weird. The SCOBY can be reused to start a new batch.
Supposedly the variations in home-brewing greatly effect the final taste. My instructor said no two batches are the same, though hopefully they’re all drinkable enough. Enjoy!
Class notes available at ufmKombuchaClassNotes2011-03-05.

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

In The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, William Whyte and The Street Life Project explore the sociability of urban spaces and try to determine the design elements and human characteristics that make spaces livable. Originally a project on urban overcrowding, Whyte and crew conclude that an abundance of people gathered together throughout the day is not necessarily a problem, but instead a healthy measure of a location’s vitality. Using a combination of time-lapse photography and inferences from direct observation, Whyte shows how architecture promotes chance encounters with friends, fosters communication among strangers, and stimulates communities.

For more information on William H. Whyte, and research on “What makes a place sittable,” check out the Project for Public Spaces.