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The Art of Pairing Kombucha with Food

Let’s start out with me clarifying that I am a kombucha sipper, not a guzzler. That said, it is interesting to see what food goes with various kombucha flavors if kombucha is your beverage of choice for the meal. For breakfast, for example, paired with our vegan breakfast tacos, I have been playing it safe, sticking to a lemon-ginger or cherry-hibiscus. If I were to expand the range of options, which way I go? Something more tangy and eye-opening, like Cayenne or Beet-Celeriac?

If we apply the traditional rules for pairing wine with food, we would have some rules to follow.
According to Karen McNeil, author of The Wine Bible, here are some pointers:

The food and wine (in this case kombucha) comes from the same place: so a taco with mango salsa could go with a tropical hibiscus kombucha
Pair delicate with delicate taste; robust with robust taste: you could do a light fizzy green tea kombucha with an fried rice entree or a cayenne-ginger with spicy schezwan noodles
Decide if you are going to mirror the taste of the food with the beverage or set up a contrast with the flavors as a juxtaposition

My takeaway from all this is that your pairing doesn’t have to be technically perfect, but ideally provide a perfect seesaw — where the drink makes you want a taste of the food and vice versa. What do kombucha brewers have to say about pairing their brews with food?

Brew Dr. Kombucha gives some specific pairings for backyard bbqs, specifying flavors for grilled meats, veggies and other grilled delights.

Pairing Kombucha With Your Backyard Barbecue

In addition, the owners of Happy Leaf Kombucha suggest avoiding pairing kombucha with coffee and high-acid foods, sticking with similar flavors. They suggest a fermented platter of vegetables brings out the flavor of the brew.
https://www.thekitchn.com/4-ways-to-use-kombucha-beyond-just-drinking-it-maker-tour-part-five-218419

Valley Isle Kombucha, produced in Maui, echoes the like flavors together and adds that kombucha pairs beautifully with cheese (logical since both are fermented!). They add that sweet and sour also contrast nicely if selecting a kombucha to pair with a sweeter dessert.

Pairing Kombucha with Food

The result of all this is to experiment with what you like and find your own favorites.

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News Roundup for April 4, 2018

The trend of offering kombucha on tap is growing. As this piece in the San Jose Mercury News points out, cocktails infused with the probiotic beverage were the next logical step. At Corona del Mar’s Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, the “cocktail guru” Anthony Laborin began trying his hand (well, both hands) at using Bootstrap Kombucha as a part of some imaginative cocktails.

In the case of “Mama Needs a Nap,” Laborin tops the mixture of lemon juice, honey syrup, local aquavit, Jardesca Rouge and passion fruit-infused Peychaud’s Aperitivo with kombucha. The ingredients are put into a cocktail mixer, shaken and poured into a martini glass. The fizzy kombucha provides a nice complement to the sweet adult beverage.

Yes, it makes total sense that a music festival in California would be serving kombucha.
At the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, a kombucha bar will be front and center among the offerings. The probiotic beverage will be part of the fare at a special refreshment pod that will also include freshly pressed juices.


Even after a life of working in market research, I am skeptical when I see forecasts for trending beverages such as kombucha. If you’d like to plunk down some money to read Markets World Reports on the future of this beverage (financially that is), go for it. Here are the two major issues I see with attempting to forecast this market:

• While major brewers make a big name for themselves, it will be an industry dominated by medium-sized, regional companies. The inherent issue of needing to keep kombucha refrigerated while in transit will limit national market potential. Those companies that choose to use copackers run the risk of losing control over their brand.

• Rules and regulations about sugar and alcoholic content are a long way from being resolved and vary from state to state.

Want to know more? Email me and we can chat.

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News Roundup for March 28, 2018

As a former market research analyst, my ears (and eyes) perk up when I see the words market research in a daily news story about kombucha.

This piece featured on the website 417 talks about the origins of Spring Branch Kombucha, a successful Missouri-based brewer. Founder Chris Ollis talks about his path from homebrewer to a commercial bottler of this probiotic beverage. For him, the feedback from friends at a barbeque competition was all he needed to move forward with this plan to go big.

“I thought I was an outlier, but realized it’s a little more mainstream, “Chris said in an interview with 417. “The majority of the people in the room drank kombucha regularly.” That was all the research Chris and his wife Jessica needed to begin brewing large 30-gallon batches of kombucha. The goal is to have to six flavors for sale throughout southwestern Missouri.

Classically trained chefs are increasingly trying their hand at brewing kombucha. There’s something about deep knowledge of flavor combinations and the subtlety of new ingredients that has many culinary stars becoming craft brewers. Case in point, San Diego’s Bambucha Kombucha, founded by Michael Zonfrilli and Steve Strupp. Of the duo, Zonfrilli began making kombucha 20 years ago, but the rise of big brands such as GTs inspired the pair to launch a brand that reflected their palates and training.

In an interview with Kombucha Hunter, Zonfrilli spoke to his approach to cultivating new flavors:

“We were working to perfect our flavors for a year prior to going commercial. As classically trained chefs, my partner Steven Strupp and I took inspiration from various world cuisines and time-tested flavor pairings. Our Mango Masala, for example, is inspired by the Ayurvedic uses of spices in an Indian spice blend and the common use of mango in Indian cuisine. And our Sicilian Sunrise utilizes the incredible Italian pairing of fennel and orange.”

As part of its distribution plan throughout Southern California, Bambucha now is available for delivery to area offices where it can be served on-tap.

And just for the fun of it, here are a few Twitter posts regarding kombucha:

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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.