One young Catholic family on a Journey towards Intentional and Communal Sustainability. One Artist, one full time Mama and two babies, we'll tell you about all our successes, and failures, as we try to make it in our overly Consumeristic society on just the bare necessities.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tea party

A while back, Joey and I stopped buying sodas, and we both saw the effects on our waist lines (well, I was pregnant at the time, so it was more of a bump line!).  But we both still crave delicious drinks.  So here's a few of our drink choices we've either come to love, or tried and tossed, and their pros and cons.
Tea anybody?

Sparkle Water (aka mineral water or Seltzer water)
This was our go-to for a long time, and it still is, but only as a treat.  This was a great way to quench our soda cravings, especially with a dash of lemon juice or orange juice added in.  The bubbles really do something to kick water up that extra notch!  We call it Sparkle Water in our house for the toddler's sake-it makes it special, and also helps warn her that she's about to get bubbles up her nose.

While I could drink Perrier, or even grocery store seltzer all day long and be more than happy, it isn't budget friendly.  I looked into getting a seltzer bottle, until I realized that the major health benefits come from natural sparkling water.  So the cost does not justify drinking it daily- except when I'm pregnant.  For wahtever reason, I have a hard time keeping myself hydrated when I'm pregnant- I just don't like drinking liquids.  But the bubbles make everything go down smooth.  So it's worth it then.

Kombucha (aka Baby Beer)

We were introduced to Kombucha originally by my brother-in-law, and reintroduced by Dyno-Mom, who gave us a baby SCOBY.  I love the stuff, Joey does not.  Charlotte does though, which is good because around the time we got the SCOBY we were having trouble with her finding random beer bottles to try and drink out of whenever we had beer.  It wasn't very often, but she would kick and cry every time we took the beer away from her and scream "BEER!" at the top of her lungs.  I know another little girl who was equally attached to the hops whose word for "good" was "beer" until she was about two.  ;-)  So I know it's not just my kid who has to be curtailed from the Guinness glasses.  So now she call Kombucha "Beer"- which is just fine.  Yes it does have trace amounts of alcohol in it, just as much as vinegar and other daily edibles, so I don't let her have more than a few ounces a day.  The only real problem is when she asks for her "beer" while we're in the check-out line at the grocery store.  True story.

Charlotte teething on an EMPTY beer bottle at about 6 months
In any case, Kombucha is an acquired taste.  But to those who acquire it, it's both delicious and cheap, if you make it yourself.  And it's bubbly-  big plus in my book!  All you need is a baby SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) from a friend or make one yourself from a bottle of raw Kombucha bought at the store, tea and sugar.  I use Newman's Own Organic Royal Tea (black and green combined, or just black) and sucanat, an unrefined sugar with a load of minerals.  But you can use cheap black tea and cheap white sugar and get equally as good a beverage.  The sugar is ingested, totally or in part depending on how long it goes, so you don't get any or much yourself.  And it's pro-biotic!  Yay good bacteria!

Kombucha in a continuous brew

Hello, Mother!

Kefir (water and dairy)
As I said before, Joey doesn't dig on the Kombucha- it's way too vinegary for him.  But he likes kefir, both water and dairy.

Kefir is a fermented beverage using small, grain-like SCOBY's that are not the same as the large mass of SCOBY that creates a Kombucha mother.  Dairy Kefir reigns from the northern European regions, like Poland.  It is a thin, yogurty, tangy, bubbly concoction that is made with milk and Kefir grains- cauliflower like cultures of yeast and bacteria.  Water Kefir is actually a traditional "Small Beer" found around the world in many different cultures, and can also be called Tibicos.  It is made using sugar water and flavored with a variety of different fruits or extracts.  Joey likes vanilla water kefir as he says it's very similar to Cream Soda, whereas I've recently found that adding slices of a green apple to the secondary ferment makes a very delicious drink.
Water kefir on the left, dairy kefi on the right, and crab apple cider in the middle
We are still experimenting with Kefir.  I got water grains from Melissa (Dyno-mom) awhile back, and they've been doing great.  I also ordered dehydrated dairy grains from Cultures for Health and we've been having less luck with them.  I think I MAY have just now figured them out, but we'll see.  I'm less of a fan of dairy kefir in general, but that's probably just because I've never been a big milk drinker. I had a hard time digesting pasteurized milk all my life but I'm starting to be able to drink more since we switch to raw milk awhile back, but I certainly don't crave it.  All in all, water kefir is practically free.  Melissa has a good overview of the in's and out's on her blog, here.  Dairy kefir is a little more expensive, especially if you use raw milk, but I have friends who love it so much they'd rather drop the grains in their gallon and just drink that instead of regular milk anyway.  Joey would, but I'd rather not, at least not until we get our grains ripe enough so that they're working properly.

Other things we've tried-

Ginger beer- good, cheap and easy.  We still make this from time to time.  Melissa's tutorial here.
Crab Apple Cider/Wine/vinegar- There will be a post on this coming up soon that we're doing for Melissa's blog.
Tea- Iced or hot.  Right now, Joey is going through practically a gallon of iced tea a day.  We make sun tea so we don't have to heat up the kitchen, or worry about breaking a glass pitcher with hot liquids.
Coffee- not cheap, not super healthy, but oh so good!  I used to drink it black, but now I add a tablespoon or so of cream or whole milk, and occasionally a dash of vanilla or a shake of cinnamon.  If you can drink it without sugar or other sweeteners, it's not nearly so bad as people make it out to be.  Just moderation, people.
And then, there's the good old fashioned water bottle.  We'll be talking about that in a later post.

Linking up with GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursday

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