Celebrating Cultures: A Conversation with Snowflake, our Kombucha SCOBY

 

Name

Snowflake

Alias

Kombucha SCOBY (English), Kombucha Teepilz (Deutsch)

Age

Technically, she’s over 2,000 (!) years old; she’s been with Alexis since 2010.

Nationality

Holds a Canadian passport but originates from somewhere in Eurasia, most likely Russia.


Side note: People sometimes think she’s Japanese because phonetically ‘kombu’ is a type of algae and ‘cha’ means tea in Japanese. ‘Kombucha’, however, is actually a fermented form of tea.

Loves

Tannins. And bathing in her own liquid while chilling hard.

Hates

Oils in teas of all sorts (they cause suffocation).

Fruit flies (their sneaky presence may result in maggot infestations).

Feeds on

Sugars and tannins.

Favourite tea

Darjeeling first flush.

Most active when

Exposed to oxygen at room temperature and left undisturbed.

Maintenance level

Low. She only needs to be fed every one or two weeks (or so). If forgotten for longer periods of time, she artfully transforms her tea bath into vinegar. She also self-propagates like crazy, whether you want her to or not.

Best-enjoyed

Usually around day 7-9 after she begins brewing.

Best-served with

Sloe-gin (a flavoursome liqueur made from gin infused with foraged sloe berries).

How’s it goin’ Snowflake? Tell us a little bit more about how you got to where you are today. How did you end up in Edible Alchemy’s Microbial Circus?

Well, you certainly don’t beat around the bush, do you, eh? I’m proud to say that I was one of the very first SCOBYs (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts) that Alexis acquired. I admit, Yalactic, Alexis’s milk kefir, beat me to it by a hair. But I joined the ring soon after. 

There she was, back in the Peg, unsuspectingly rummaging in a friend’s kitchen looking for a mug when she spotted me drifting around in my jar. Jesus Murphy she gave me a bit of a fright, yes she did. But you should have seen how her googly doe eyes lit up with curiosity. 

I’ve heard her tell people on numerous occasions that it was love at first sight; I may not have ears but I’m certainly not deaf and these glass walls are thinner than ya’d think. 



alexid holding snowflake kombucha

Anyways, Alexis asked her friend all kindsa questions, yes she did. Wanted to know who I was. How I got there. Why on Earth I was living in that dark cupboard like some Harry Potter relative. She took me home with her in the end. Oh my, was I in for a treat. There I was thinking we were just going on a little trip to the Exchange District….Turns out, we were setting out on a wild adventure around the entire world!

Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Nepal, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Croatia, the UKjust when I thought the fun was over and we’d be returning to Winnipeg, fate brought us to Berlin. I don’t mean to toot my own horn (okay, maybe just a little) but I actually became somewhat of a hot sensation here for a while. Back in 2014, once we’d settled into Berlin comfortably, Alexis started a company called MOTHER KOMBUCHA. We had a blast exploring Berlin’s gastronomy scene together, while it lasted. 

kombucha fermentation
person grabbing kombucha scoby

So what’s the story behind Mother Kombucha?

When Alexis first took me to Berlin, a lot of people who heard about my tricks were curious to see how I would perform if I were given a chance to compete in the free market. I was only the size of a palm at the time. Alexis lovingly nurtured and fed me. She washed me between every feeding to rid my otherwise flawless surface of those pesky, yeasty cling-ons. I’ve honestly never been so pampered in my entire life. Was I ready to take center stage? You betcha! At the peak of my career, I weighed 85 kilos and took up an entire 1,000-liter tank. People would gasp when they saw me. Almost as if they couldn’t believe I was real.

When I was really chubby, Alexis and a handful of fans brought me to a lab to try and uncover the secret to my unique bacterial composition and yeasts. But no matter how hard they tried, they were never able to replicate my abilities in vitro perfectly. None of those test tube clones ever came anywhere near my fresh and natural brews. I guess science just can’t compete with raw talent. Serves them right, if you ask me; trying to steal my limelight and whatnot.

Meanwhile, my popularity (and my cellulose) continued to grow, but the creators behind MOTHER KOMBUCHA simply couldn’t keep up with the demands of the market. I think they also struggled to deal with my tendency to build up cellulose in bottle-necks and brewery pipelines. That’s a habit I admit I still haven’t been able to break.

And so, MOTHER KOMBUCHA was laid to rest and evolved into a legend in Berlin. Luckily, my mind, body and spirit are still alive and kicking in thousands of homes around the globe.

kombucha vat and bottles on table
kombucha on shelf
kombucha drinks with herbs and flowers

An acrobat through and through, you’re one of the most versatile acts in the show. What can you do besides transforming tea into a delicious ferment?

I like to think of myself as a Jane of all trades. Some artists have worshipped me as their muse and proceeded to incorporate me in their sculptures and fashion lines. Thanks to my innate healing powers I’ve also been used in face masks and living bandages. Garden enthusiasts, on the other hand, sometimes utilise me as seedling pots or compost tea, while homemakers swear by my potency as a household cleaning agent. And of course, feed me to your dogs, chickens, compost worms or other pets on your property, and I’ll help ensure that all organisms that are co-living with you have healthier microbiomes.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to ramble. You’re welcome to read up on all my other tricks and performances in great detail here. Creativity knows no bounds in my books.

 

How do you travel?

Well, the easiest way to take me with you is to transfer me into a smaller jar, top us up with sugary tea and seal the lid firmly. Just make sure not to forget me in your suitcase, or else I could potentially throw a fit and explode somewhere down the line.

Aside from being an avid nomad, I actually like to form kombucha hotels on people’s countertops. Kombucha hotels are basically just ever-growing layers and layers and layers of me, myself and I all squeezed into one radiant jar of goodness. See for yourself:

kombucha hotel in jar

Keep shining bright, Snowflake!

If it’s your first time brewing, check out the following link for more information: https://ediblealchemy.co/kombucha/ 

Become the proud owner of your very own Snowflake SCOBY or purchase a Kombucha home brew kit.

Explore everything from primary to secondary ferment and beyond in our Online Academy

In Celebrating Cultures, we sit down with some of our favourite artists from our Microbial Circus. If you are new to this exotic freak show, this series is a fantastic opportunity to really get to know our dearest and wisest sourdough starter, Cornelius, our lively kombucha SCOBY, Snowflake, and our eccentric water kefir colony, Harries. And for those of you who know them oh-so-well already, we’re confident you’ll learn something new about each along the way. 

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