The ancient art of bottling living tea is now on tap at the downtown Overland Park Farmers' Market.
No doubt you've heard of a Zen Master. Drop by Overland Park Farmer's Market and you'll find a master of another sort: Lisa Bledsoe, Scoby Master. A what?
Bledsoe is a local hobbyist and volunteer instructor at Broadmoor Technical Center's culinary program teaching the process of fermenting an organic, probiotic beverage known as kombucha.
Her motivation was to master the method, providing a perfect alternative to sugary soft drinks for her family.
“I was intrigued by the process which begins with the scoby, or starter, composed of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Combined with black tea, a bit of organic sugar, filtered water and fresh juice, the entire concoction ferments over a period of 10 days or so,” she says.
The results become kombucha, a healthy, effervescent brew that most people find delightful with the first swig.
One Cool Bubbly
A bustling Saturday at the Overland Park Farmer's Market offers the perfect place for Bledsoe and her students to introduce the public to kombucha.
This morning, four different flavors were on tap: Root Beer, Key Lime, Peach and Blueberry.
“Tasting is what most people who are unfamiliar with kombucha want first,” says Bledsoe, handing a customer an ounce of fizzy Key Lime tea.
“Not only is it a refreshing digestive aid, but kombucha is a perfect alternative for people looking to promote an alkaline environment in the body,” she adds.
Momentary hesitation by some instantly turns to thumbs-up, followed by a request for an icy cup or bottle of the tea.
Chef Bob Brassard, Culinary Program Coordinator at Broadmoor Bistro (Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley's technical school where students learn to flex their culinary skills) is delighted to have Bledsoe on board.
“As a volunteer instructor, Lisa is introducing second-year students to the culture of fermenting,” says Brassard. “Since we want to remain ahead of the curve at Broadmoor, this class fits right into our agricultural and sustainable food programming. As students interact with the public at the market, they are exposed to a foundation in life skills, learning good management principles and becoming more socially aware of the food we eat.”
Bledsoe is delighted with the response from the public and her students.
“I want to pass along this process so that not just kids, but those who haven't been introduced to kombucha now have an alternative, healthy drink,” she says.
Try a shot. Becoming a Scoby Master may be on your horizon.
The Scoby Master, Facebook