Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Natural Fermentation – Amla in a Tea Brine Solution Part I

Embarking on a new adventure can bring new thrills and excitement. This is how I feel about this particular fermentation project. It is the first time that I will be attempting to use freshly brewed tea to naturally ferment food and perhaps create a healthy probiotic tonic as a bonus. Unlike kombucha I will be attempting to ferment freshly brewed tea with only salt combined with a vegetable or fruit. If you have done something similar I would dearly love to hear from you. It is not only to share in the experience but to have the comfort of knowing that there are others perfectly sane, normal and intuitive people who commonly carry out this activity :)

Amla packs a strong punch in taste. The fruit is jarringly sour, bitter and astringent to the point of bringing puckered faces to the newly initiated.

Amla (aka makham pom in Thai, the Indian gooseberry or amalaki), this small thumb size fruit is a Superfood possessing excellent health and medicinal properties. The fruit is rich in nutrients and vitamins with an extraordinary high vitamin C content. Amla is believed to provide antioxidant and anti aging properties, lower blood pressure, clear skin problems, boost immunity and provide a great boost to your overall health. The fruit can be eaten raw, pickled, made into a wine and used for cooking. Amla forms a key component to many medicinal recipes found in Ayurveda. 

Preparing the tea brine solution with the 2011 Jingmai Gushu Maocha i) The 4 years of age have darkened the leaves adding a deeper sweetness to the tea ii) After 1 rinse and approx. 5min steeping the salt is stirred in and the briny solution is left to cool.

There are thousands of types and varieties of tea and it is entirely possible that each could yield a different result. The reason I chose the 2011 Jingmai gushu maocha was mainly that I wanted to start with a good quality leaf. The gushu leaf harvested from big trees brings an element of intrigue to the overall fermentation as the growing environment of these trees contains a rich natural biodiversity that comparatively does not exist in a modern run tea plantation. How and whether this will influence the fermentation is anyone's guess but it does make the process more captivating. Note: the freshly brewed tea by itself provides a pleasant herbal, medicinal character with a deep sweetness.

i) Day 1 ii) Week 1

The ingredients have been put together and shelved for about a week under the hot climate of Thailand. My objective is to let the natural fermentation run its course for a month and then to assess the situation. The early progress thus far shows that the fermentation has indeed kicked in (see the video clip below). An interesting observation is that unlike the fermented cucumbers from the previous month the tea brine solution has not become cloudy but has transitioned to a lighter color and is very clear.

click PLAY to see the early fermentation activity of amla in a tea brine

I am looking forward to seeing how this project will turn out. I expect that time will reveal all and that I will be able to share more findings in Part 2 in approximately one month's time.


  1. I look forward to this experiment Very inventive use my friend.

    1. Thank you M

      I dont think the fermentation will go bad in the sense of rotten or moldy. The big question will be how it will taste? Being the one to taste it, I'm not sure if it will be a blessing or a curse ...

      Best, VP

  2. I look forward to the "taste test".