Growing Kombucha and Kefir in Korea
When we moved to Yeongjong island, near the Incheon Airport,we found that we would be deprived of two of our three favorite miracle foods, Kombucha and Kefir. But we were pleasantly surprised to find we could order our third favorite health food item, wheat grass for home delivery. Have not seen it in the stores but have seen it in some smoothie places as well as home delivery. best to mix it in a smoothie. Wheat grass juice does not taste that great!
Growing Kombucha and Kefir in Korea
Living in Oregon was great. Kombucha is everywhere. Costco carries Kombucha everywhere except in Korea. The best brand we found was the gingerade. But I liked sampling the kombucha everywhere, a number of bars brew it on site and you can fill up a growler and take it home.
What is Kombucha you ask? It is fermented tea, filled with powerful probiotics and it is so good for your health. It does contain 1 percent alcohol so that should not get you into trouble with the new draconian drunk driving laws here in Korea!
Since neither the Commissary nor Costco or anyone else carried it, or even knew what it was, we decided that we had to brew it ourselves. The starter kit we brought with us had gone bad. So we bought kombucha from Amazon and used that and the left over starter kit to get started.
We used green tea as the base. Straight black tea and jasmine tea will work but not earl grey due to the bergamot oil in the tea.
We brewed up several gallons of tea, added sugar, the starter kit and the cans of kombucha. Then we put it in a sprouter warmer kit ordered from Amazon and wrapped another gallon in an electric blanket. You got to keep the kombucha at about 80 degrees F (26.67 Celsius).
Then we waited for six weeks. Finally ready to go today and we bottled it and started our next batch!
Here’s what it looks like with the scuzzy taken out of the kombucha.
Making Kefir was easy, we’ve been making it for years. We had started kits we bought in Oregon before we left. Just got some organic milk and we were in business. If you have to use Korean milk, make sure it is full fat milk, 2 percent makes watery kefir. There are recipes for using almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk but we have not used them because we heard it would be pretty watery. Might want to try Goat milk sometime though. The Commissary’s organic full fat Milk is perfect. You can also buy Kefir at the Commissary just to see if you like it but their Kefir has extra sugar in it and I am not sure it would be a good starter mix. Best to order the starter kits from Amazon (they will deliver to a local address) and you should not have any problems. But with both be sure you sanitize your containers with hot boiling water before making either kombucha or kefir. Need to keep stray random non-cultured bacteria out of the mix.
See below for articles on the health benefits of Kombucha and Kefir, articles on how to make it, and where to buy it locally.
As a personal testimony a few years ago I noticed that I did not have hay fever in the Spring. I used to have to make a trip to the urgent care/ER because I got so inflamed that I could not even open my eyes and I was sneezing so bad. The medicine they gave me worked a bit but I mostly just suffered. Then I started eating kefir for breakfast and drinking Kombucha and my hay fever disappeared.!
Health benefits of Kefir
Health benefits of Kombucha
How to make kombucha at home
How to Make Kefir
Where to Buy Kombucha in Seoul
Note: I went to the Olive in Itaewon, they had Kombucha a while ago. But I have not found any other places, hence I made it myself. Here’s a link might be a bit dated. Let me know if you find a source in Seoul Let me know if you know of any local sources!