Growing up in Russia, one day or the other you end up in the house of a family member and finally encounter this creature they simply called “Mushroom” (Or “гриб” in Russian). For years we would have it then forget about it and have it die then get another one from a neighbor or a friend and it would go on back and worth.
When I moved to France as a child, we didn’t bring a scoby with us. It took some time before we got another fresh scoby to start a new Kombucha culture with. I had no idea how to call this thing. The internet didn’t have much information online, google didn’t exist (Yeah Google was created in 1998) and each time I would share the fizzy drink with a high-school friend they were terrified and thought I was weird for drinking it. That was before 1998 and I was a teenager!
In 2002 I attended an Art School in France, 4 years later I had the weirdest idea which was to grow scobies in thermoformed glass and use this Art Project as my main work to validate my Bachelor degree. I still had no idea how it was called and I tried to research online but found nothing. All I remember is my mom saying it came from China and it was passed down like kefir culture, from neighbors to friends. When the scoby grows too big, it’s best to separate it and give away a chunk to someone else and keep it growing in another home.
At one point during my one year artsy experiment I found out (probably via some trash tabloid magazine) that Madonna swears by a drink that is made with tea and sugar and some sort of weird substance…EUREKA!!! Madonna knows of my гриб too! I swear I rejoiced! I would finally know how it’s called and what those beneficial things I heard it does, are all about!! Few years later I moved to the US and found out that you could buy Kombucha ready-made in most stores. I probably bought it once, or more likely someone gave me a bottle to try and I was curious to taste the industrial version. I knew facing all the laughs and smiles were worth it at the end. I was into something, but once it became not that unique anymore I totally lost interest. That’s why as a tea-lover I never wrote anything about Kombucha here. Good days though. After all, I went out of my way, molded shapes that I later thermoformed to grow scobies in funky shapes and sizes for an entire year in my workshop. I even considered growing them in a bathtub 😎
Here some photos taken with an analogue camera!