Yesterday my brother introduced me to kombucha tea, a drink reputed to have healing properties. Not being the sorts to just buy ready made bottles of something that they can make themselves at home, he and his wife brew the drink in a large container, and it’s a quite an eye catching process.
Kombucha tea brewing in a jar. Image from More Intelligent Life.
Like a sourdough mother or a ginger-beer plant, kombucha is brewed by a placing a kombucha “mushroom” into a container of sweetened black tea. The mushroom eats the sugars in the tea and ferments it into a drink that combines some of the flavours of tea, cider vinegar, and rustic beer. The mushroom isn’t actually a mushroom, of course, it’s a floating raft of bacteria and yeasts forming a symbiotic organism known as a zoogleal mat.
The floating kombucha mushroom. Image from Green Tea Today.
Apart from being an interesting element to add to the description of a place in a game, this would also be a cool prop to put out on the table. Describing the inside of an apothecary shop, the attendant pulls out a jar with a cloudy, sour smelling liquid with some floating collection of organisms floating in it. At this point, you might reach down and pull up onto the table a jar of kombucha that you’ve prepared. Pull the mushroom (also called “vinegar mother”) out of the way and pour out cups of the cidery, slightly carbonated drink and offer it to the players. Or fill a flask with it, and insist that when their characters drink a healing potion, they need to take a swig from the kombucha?