Posted on

News Roundup for March 27, 2018

As kombucha hits mainstream in its acceptance, this probiotic wonder is beginning to show up in some unusual places. Maybe not so unusual when you consider other ingredients (such as consumable, farm-raised insects) that make their way into our lives.

Enter skincare. A story from the website Body & Soul, in a bit of shameless promotion, talks about a line of products from Andalou Naturals., a noted producer of healthy products for the face and other parts of our precious bodies that need hydration. I am especially taken with this bit of poetry about the products:

Andalou Naturals is known for their Fruit Stem Cell Science, contained in every product, which is a super antioxidant defense system in a patented liposomal technology that allows targeted delivery of the active ingredient formulations.

This means that no matter what crazy ingredient you find in their products, be it Kombucha, pumpkin, apricot or purple carrot (yes, you read those right), their powerful benefits will be doubled, if not tripled.

I also came across an interesting website, InfoSurHoy.com which focused on news and information related to Latin America and the Caribbean. While there is nothing all that remarkable about the piece on various probiotic foods and beverages, it’s nice to see it all in one place. There are simple instructions that are geared for anyone who wants to venture into this healthy eating space.

My personal favorite is the one for kvass. We recently sampled some amazing beet kvass at a shop in West Palm Beach called Got Sprouts. Anyone of Eastern European heritage is no doubt familiar with this tangy fermented beverage.

Continuing the topic in yesterday’s roundup, BevNet reports that kombucha brewer Health-Ade is targeted in a class action lawsuit with the claim the products contains twice the amount of alcohol allowed for a non-alcoholic beverage.  The complaint also cites that the California-based kombucha brewer’s products contain more sugar than stated on its label. According to the story, independent testing was done by a third party to verify these issues.

Brew Dr. Kombucha is also under fire by a plaintiff in Illinois who claims the probiotic beverage contains fewer probiotic colonies than stated on the label. The suit states that third-party tested showed that Brew Dr. Kombucha have as little as 50,000 CFUs, the measure of the viable bacterial cells in a sample. That does not match the labeling on the bottles, which claim each has billions of probiotic bacteria.

If any issue stands in the way to greater acceptance of kombucha—not to mention a willingness for retailers to carry larger varieties of the beverage—is the lack of standards in labeling. Yes, that’s true for many new food and beverage markets, but in today’s omni connected world, bad press and social media-fueled consumer issues can sink a brand faster than high prices.

Posted on

Kombucha Grows in the Heartland (that’s Iowa)

The heartland of the US is gearing up to have more kombucha. In addition to being “heaven”, Iowa can be proud of two new business ventures. With ample farmland and access to innovative, natural ingredients, this is one to add to our next road trip.

In Waterloo, Iowa, there is the potential of Iowa’s second kombucha brewery in a redone downtown market space. According to a story in Waterloo newspaper, The Courier, the proposal from a new venture called Verve Kombucha, is one of three competing to reuse the downtown building.

Verve Kombucha is a partnership between SingleSpeed founder Dave Morgan, a local developer and the folks behind Sidecar Coffee.

The report states that the plan would open Iowa’s second kombucha brewery with an accompanying bistro. Already featured in our directory, Wild Culture Kombucha, based in Iowa City, has been in the market close to 10 years and is available on tap, in retail stores and at local restaurants.

Posted on

News Roundup for March 26, 2018

Starting today, we will have a daily news roundup related to news and information related to kombucha.

The focus for today’s news roundup appears to be on the health benefits of kombucha—some real, some not so real, some under question:

A story in Shape magazine talks about the writer’s discovery about the amount of sugar in kombucha. While it rambles a bit and skirts a few of the key issues (such as the lack of standards), I find two good points. One is that you need to read the label to understand how much sugar is in the bottle you are about to drink. Also (and I am guilty of this) make sure you look at the number of servings applied to sugar. I was disappointed to see the amount of sugar found in a bottle of Trader Joe’s house brand of kombucha.

The other point is about KeVita. There is a link to a great BevNet story about the testing of sugar content in kombucha and an independent test done by the Pepsi-owned company with these results:

KeVita subsequently launched an independent analysis of eight brands, including its own. The study concluded that the majority of tested kombucha products contained sugar content exceeding the amount on stated on their labels by more than 20 percent. Two brands contained an average of 291 percent and 311 percent greater than the label amounts. KeVita itself tested at an average of 4 percent below the label value.

All well and good, but KeVita uses stevia as a sweetener which leaves an aftertaste on my palate and (I assume) many others. There must be better ways to achieve the goal of health versus excessive sugar content.

Our second story comes via a press release from Brinkwire. The story talks about Harley Street dietitian and King’s College London research fellow, Dr. Megan Rossi who adds some clarity to the belief kombucha and related beverages (and foods) are great for your wellbeing.

The self-proclaimed gut health expert says: ‘With my science hat on I have to admit that the evidence isn’t that strong for fermented drinks. This is not necessarily because they don’t have a benefit, but more because the research simply hasn’t been done.”

Equivocating her position, Dr. Rossi goes on to say: ‘For those trying to ditch their sugary drink habit, kombucha can be a great swap,’ she said. “Personally, however, if there was one of these things that I could take, I would make it kefir. I make my own (kefir) and drink 100 milliliters a day. This is because the evidence suggests that homemade contains more diverse bacteria and is thought to be better for you.”

Again, read the label before drinking.

Posted on

Kombucha Is Legit: Check the Dictionary

Kombucha is now more than just a healthy beverage. One way that you know you are heading towards mainstream is when you get added to the dictionary as a term that people are encountering.
Joining the Merriam-Webster dictionary on a list of new words for foodies is a bold recognition of the potential this probiotic drink. The list of culinary terms definitely reflects the changing origin of foods, with deference to foods and spices from many cultures around the world.
For me, I cook with aquafaba, and knew all the words but one.
Posted on

Our Kombucha Journey Rolls On at Full Speed

Time flies when you are attempting to sample every kombucha flavor in the world. And, also to meet every brewer in the world.

For the past six years, after adding kombucha to our diet to fulfill the need for more alkalinity, the journey that led us to this website (especially in the recent relaunch) has been more than we ever expected. We build our travel around how many brewers can we visit; what supermarkets and local grocers are carrying kombucha (it’s a way of finding cool, new brands) and what new trends are emerging based on kombucha that makes its way to farmers markets and small warehouses tucked away off a bustling freeway.

In 2017, we sampled kombucha, Naturia, in Warsaw at a natural food store a few blocks from our hotel by the central train station. We then brought a starter kit to our Workaway host who lives on a farm south of Gdansk. On that same trip, we then flew to Berlin for the express purpose of meeting master brewer Ted (Tadeusz Zagrabinski) at his restaurant/brewery/mad food scientist workshop, Café Barbucha. Additionally, we came across some local German brands (such as Carpe Diem from the folks behind Red Bull) with the growing number of Berlin supermarkets carrying vegan food and beverages. BTW, we will be posting our video interview with Ted in the next week.

Earlier that year, our voyage of all things probiotic beverage took us to the Southeastern part of the U.S. In Wilmington, N.C., we met the founders of Panacea Brewing and later that same trip we came across Dalia Sofia, a small brewer in South Carolina.

On each of these trips, we visit supermarkets big and small where we come across brands new to us, such as Big Easy Bucha, Bucha, Simple Truth, Lenny Boy, and more. It is through these journeys that we learn first hand the differences in taste and brewing method. We take in the thought behind various approaches—long brewing time, short secondary brews, unusual teas and flavorings, and so on. It has made us even more dedicated to our mission of covering the world of kombucha with spirit and insight. We are also intrigued by innovative sales strategies, from self-serve on tap in grocery stores to unmanned storefronts with kombucha and jun taps (such as SOMA in Portland, OR.)

Stay tuned for more info on past and future journeys. We hope to meet every brewer in the U.S. and abroad.

Posted on

Interview with Founders of Lima, Peru Kombucha, Misha Restrera

On a sunny Saturday at the Feria Ecologica de Barranco, at an amazing Saturday market in an up and coming bohemian section of Lima, Peru, we came upon Kombucha Dr. Misha (Kombucha Restrera). Founded by husband and wife team, Paloma Duarte and Luis Bazalar, they sell their products on tap at the market and in a few select stores including Calandria, a bodega in Lima.  What makes their products special is the care they take in sourcing ingredients — using the native products in Peru from Mayan, Incan, and local sources.

The couple began their production after attending a session with fermentation guru, Sandor Katz in Chile. In addition to their kombucha, they sell herbal cosmetic blends utilizing the same native ingredients. They have regular customers that seek them out at the market and reutilize bottles, as part of their environmental mission. Their kombucha also incorporates products from other vendors at this incredible street market, including native-sourced cinnamon and curcuma.

Produced at a small facility in Barranco, the team has created a kombucha community within Peru. They offer periodic classes to the public on how to make kombucha, launching a few new brewers in other parts of Peru and neighboring countries.

 

Posted on

Kombucha Network Heads to Europe

A recent story in Tablet Magazine touched a nerve as we embark on a journey of discovery in Eastern Europe. Our interest in healthy eating goes beyond kombucha; it extends to other fermented foods and techniques that create probiotic-rich delicacies.

The Tablet piece points out that the days of vendors in the Lower East Side hawking pickles from large wooden barrels may be in fade-out mode, fermentation is on the rise. The vast majority of those using this traditional method are doing so in their homes.

In more recent years, the pace of new pickle companies seems to have slowed down, though people’s passion for fermented and other preserved products has not waned. It has merely shifted focus. “What I’m seeing now is the influence of Sandor Katz everywhere I go,” Jeff Yoskowitz, co-author of The Gefilte Manifesto said, speaking of the self-proclaimed “fermentation revivalist,” who has become the country’s patron saint of pickling.

Which leads to our voyage of discovery. We, the co-founders of Kombucha Network, are headed to Poland and Germany on a three-week trip to unearth some hidden food treasures that speak to techniques handed down from generation to generation with perhaps a modern twist. We will be in Warsaw, an area an hour south of Gdasnk, in Gdansk proper and then on to Berlin.

We will share, on our site, everything we learn and find along the way.

Please stay tuned and be free to share your feedback.

Posted on

Arizona Hates Kombucha? Say It Isn’t So!

Believe it or not, a person named Teresa Strasser–someone who makes lists for a living–has created a map that has each state’s least favorite food. For Arizona, she chose kombucha which, by the way, is not a food.

http://www.wcpo.com/news/national/what-state-hates-your-least-favorite-food-as-much-as-you-do

And, by the way, Florida hates licorice, also begs credibility.

Posted on

Austin Fermentation Festival 2017 Focuses on Health, Innovation

Rain did not dampen the enthusiasm at the fourth annual Austin Fermentation Festival. Kombucha was front and center in our minds, and we were not disappointed with five vendors on hand. Much to our delight, as more people learn about the health benefits and tastes of fermented foods, the range of food, beverage, and related products at this yearly event has expanded, essentially outgrowing its quaint, earthy location at the Barr Mansion.

Newcome Casper Fermentation shared their kombucha, made with raw black tea purchased from a Nannuo Mountain farm in Yunnan, China. They are the only buyers of this tea in the U.S., and their kombucha is a light, tea-flavored product. Owner Benjamin Hollander stated that sugar is added only for the fermentation time, but it is “dry” for the bottling. This small company also offered raw apple cider vinegar and dill pickles, available at a few select Austin locations.

Three home-town kombucha brewers shared their goods. KTonic launched their fifth flavor on tap at the event. It is Cherry Blossom– thirst-quenching, fruity with spice flavors with hints of cherries, cardamom, and pepper. The new flavor will be available in stores on Jan. 1, 2018.  Buddha’s Brew offering tasted of all their flavors, including basil, honey, and ginger. The company founders generously put on a workshop on “how to” brew kombucha and shared scobies with some of the participants. Wunder-Pils, most often found at the farmer’s markets locally, tasted their products and shared a prickly pear kombucha that was refreshing. New for them is a canned herb and tea beverage with the properties of a natural energy drink.  Chipotle hot sauce made with kombucha was delicious– pleasantly hot with a perfect texture. The use of kombucha in new products is certainly a growing trend, as in the Wunder-Pils popsicles.

Los Angeles based Health-Aide Kombucha was also on hand offering tastes of their original flavor profiles. Pomegranate was particularly interesting–tart and lightly fizzy.

In the beverage area, Texas Keeper Cider has been expanding its offerings. A workshop on making cider was lively for those that were part of the hands-on tasting, while the remainder of the attendees heard the history of orchard-based cider brewing back to the Middle Ages. With heirloom apple popularity on the rise, this is certain to continue to expand as a popular fermented beverage.

Boggy Creek Farm is one of the original urban farms in Austin, and Larry Butler, the co-owner, offered a workshop on pickling/fermenting vegetables, entertaining the crowd with his trial and error experiences in creating products from their farm’s own produce. His smoked tomatoes, pickled squash, and zucchini have long been in demand at their popular on-site farm market. Austinite Kate Payne, the author of The Hip Girl series, shared some tips on successfully fermenting sauerkraut. Kirsten Shockey gave a hands-on demonstration of making fermented hot sauce and spicy pepper mash. Other workshops ranged from fermenting vinegar, making chocolate, kimchi techniques and butter/cheese making.

Sourdough is becoming more visible in fermentation discussions, given the bread and water (and sometimes yeast) are fermented to create the sour taste and smell.  A chef from L.A.’s Manuela led a workshop on making whole wheat sourdough. The concept of bread as an additive to beer brewing is catching on, as grains, yeast, and water form the basic beer brewing mix. With discussion of food waste, it has become evident that one-third of the bread made in the U.S. is wasted so some beer brewers are using it as part of their beer starters. Other vendors in the fermentation tent offered dehydrated and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, sourdough baked goods, vinegars and oils and Barton Springs Mill sold single grain flours, milled from Texas wheat varieties.

Sandor Katz, a “fermentation revivalist”, was once again the inspirational, trendsetting event keynote. He tells his stories about fermentation, its benefits and the reemergence of the interest in “high quality living fermented foods and beverages. The evidence of small, cottage, family businesses making fermented products definitely was visible at the festival, reviving interest in fermentation arts, reinforcing Katz’s message.

Inside the Barr Mansion at the event, films, and music (of course, this is Austin) provided a lively backdrop to the day. “Fermented” a new, heralded documentary by food lover and storyteller Edward Lee was shown as part of the festival. This is a must-see movie detailing fermentation techniques in various parts of the world. It launched at the Seattle International Film Festival and is being gradually shared with the foodie world.