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News Roundup for April 12, 2018

Newton’s Law of kombucha states that, for every five people that love this probiotic beverage, there are one or two who hate it. Hate it with a passion. Seems that those who truly dislike kombucha love to shout their displeasure from the mountaintops.

Sarah Weinberg, an author for Delish, lists five reasons to avoid kombucha. Let’s either debunk or verify each claim:

1. The sugar content is scary. Weinberg says that a bottle can contain up to 20 grams of sugar. True enough, but most have 10 grams or under. Personally, I’d never touch one that has so much sugar. BTW, some sugar content is per serving and some are by a bottle, so check before imbibing. All this is not to say that some of the sugar levels on the label are incorrect; that is another story for another day.

2. It’s possible to overdose. I guess that’s true, but it’s also possible to overdose on soda pop and a few zillion other things.

3. There is a bit of alcohol in each bottle. That is a specious argument and one that is made irrelevant by various state laws that require ID to buy any kombucha containing a high level of alcohol. In fact, some Dijon mustards and cooking sprays also have alcohol.

4. The yeast content can mess with your body. Weinberg says that the yeast levels can mess you up if you have candida or a yeast infection. Seems to me that anyone with such an ailment would ask his or her doctor what food and beverages to avoid. And also drink the beverage in small doses to make sure it helps, not hurts.

Wait. That’s only four. The headline says five yet the story lists four. Maybe too much kombucha impacts headline writers and editors.


Time to grab one of those Southwest Airlines low fares and head to Baltimore. BevNet reports that Mobtown Fermentation is releasing a new flavor that sounds amazing—Tart Cherry and Ginger Juice. We’ve tried tart cherry from some other kombucha brewers, and the taste has been wonderful.
“I’m excited to be adding a spring flavor to our line,” Sid Sharma, Owner of Wild Kombucha told BevNet. “Cherry is one of the most popular flavors there are, especially in the warmer seasons, and pairing it with ginger has created a unique kombucha that I think people are really going to enjoy.”
Sounds like a refreshing summer brew.


Et tu Trader Joe’s?
Trader Joe’s has been added to the lawsuit against kombucha bottlers who, plaintiffs argue, mislabel the sugar and alcohol content in their brews.
The suit is being brought by Kombucha Dog, a Los Angeles-based brewer. Kombucha Dog’s kombucha has a level of alcohol which makes it an alcoholic beverage and subject to taxes and shelf placement for such beverages. The claim is that other brewers, including Trader Joes, mislabels theirs to avoid the tax and shelf placement.
Kombucha Dog, according to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle, has 1.4% alcohol which is more than twice the .5% which is the cutoff between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

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News Roundup for April 6, 2018

Kombucha as a job perk? You heard that right.

Seems that Goldman Sachs has a new office in San Francisco, and to appear hip is offering all sorts of cool perks to perspective engineering employees. The buttoned-up look so familiar on Wall Street? Forget about it; jeans and t-shirts are cool (I think footwear is required). And, you got it, kombucha on tap in the break room.

A piece in Bloomberg, attempting to make Goldman Sachs seems relevant, profiles new manager Jeff Winner as a man who cares more about what’s inside a candidate than his or her appearance. The bank still has a “significant amount of stuffiness, but they’re getting rid of it,” Winner said in a phone interview with Bloomberg.

Seems like a healthy approach to hiring.


Anyone who lives in the Los Angeles area or lands on one of those $49 Southwest Airlines fares should mark May 28th on the calendar. That’s the day of Eat Drink Vegan 2018 at the Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena.
Dubbed the “Vegan Coachella,” the event is a plant-based lollapalooza with more than 250 beverage vendors on display. Think kombucha will be flowing? (That’s a rhetorical question).


That’s a lovely kombucha scarf you are wearing. No, that’s not a joke.
Arizona State University students are going fashion forward, and as part of that exercise, there are experiments will all sorts of new materials being used. Kombucha is one of them.
“For waste pollution, we wanted to find a different type of material to use,” Cindy Tran, a design student told The State Press. “We used kombucha … It can be an alternative material that can be used in textile. It’s also very sustainable by taking the waste product of the kombucha drinks and turning it into something that people can wear.”


Need some probiotics in your life and are turned off by the price (not to mention the taste) of probiotics liquids and tablets, Mens Health has eight foods that will give you all the probiotic coverage you need.
The eight include kimchi, yogurt (please, the non-dairy kind), sauerkraut, pickles (make your own), tempeh, miso (try the chickpea version if you want to avoid soy) and kombucha.
Not only does kombucha give you probiotics, the magazine reports, it also has a healthy helping of B-vitamins.

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News Roundup for April 5, 2018

To juice or not to juice, that is the question. And we’re not talking about pro athletes taking steroids to enhance their performance. Adding juice to kombucha at some stage of the brewing process is an issue debated among brewers that separates the purists from the more adventurous.

Case in point is Emmett and Renee Love of Love’s Kombucha in Moscow, Idaho. Going from home brewers to sampling and selling their brew at a local farmers market. For this pair, adding juice or other flavorings to their kombucha is a no-no.

“What sets us apart is that we don’t add any juices or flavorings after it’s brewed,” Renee Love said in an interview with the Lewiston Tribune. “It’s a super simple brew…. It’s just a fun, special drink.”

With Love’s Kombucha, the brewers believe added flavor comes from the various teas they use in the initial part of the brew. The Love’s kombucha is not available in any stores but can be found on tap at Huckleberry’s Natural Market, Moscow Food Co-op and Tapped; and in Pullman at Daily Grind Espresso and Dissmores IGA.


And for some great Tweets:

Tim Spector, forced to take antibiotics, hopes kombucha will even things out

From Kinoko Kombucha, a new brewer



And from Nutra Kombucha

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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 April 3, 2018

And you thought tech folks only invested in cool new virtual reality stuff and snack foods that replaced greasy potato chips. In the case of GloryBucha, a kombucha brewery in Arlington, WA., co-owner Lowell Profit (a great business name) has teamed up with Debra Charapty to open a taproom in the downtown of this Snohomish County city.

Profit began brewing kombucha to end his cravings for soda. After testing its popularity at a local athletic club, Profit knew he was on to something—that something being the rise in popularity of this probiotic beverage. After running into Charpaty, who brings experience in working with startups, the two knew they had found a business opportunity.

“I was drinking a lot of kombucha because I was drinking wine, and I wasn’t feeling my best, so I decided I was going to change my lifestyle,” Charpaty told the Arlington Times in a recent interview. The big change was eliminating high-sugar beverages and alcohol.

“I became a fanatic, and started brewing in my kitchen,” she added. “Not very good, just enough to make my family hate kombucha.”

According to the article, GloryBucha is the first commercial kombucha brewer in Snohomish County.

While I am not quite sure I understand it, those who dislike, or even profess to hate kombucha, enjoy waxing eloquently about their displeasure.

Take this opinion piece from a writer for The Link—a publication that appears to be either a college paper or indie pub that serves Concordia University which is outside Montreal:

Elaine Genest writes: And so, one day I was strolling around the aisles of Jean Coutu and came across that beautiful, tall, colourful bottle. It just had that look of something that was sure to revive my internal organs and give my body a fresh start.

Made up of only water, tea, sugar, and bacteria, I thought this would be the best way to truly take care of my body; I’d let the little army of germs clean my insides like the scrubbing bubbles from the bathroom cleaner ad with a bunch of little blue squid-like creatures wiping away all of the dirt in your bathroom.

However, when I poured myself my first glass of lemon and ginger kombucha, the clumps of weird alien residue at the bottom of the bottle came out all at once into my cup.

I stared at it for a couple of seconds and sulked. “Am I supposed to drink this?” I thought to myself. I took the glass and brought it up to my nose. I didn’t have very high hopes for the smell, but it was not at all what I was expecting…

Not only does kombucha look like it belongs in a science lab with a shelf of alien-like creatures floating in some liquid, but it tastes like it too.

If you’re looking to improve your health by drinking kombucha, don’t.
If you feel like you need to ingest millions of bacteria in a bottle of disappointment, just eat some expired yogurt and save yourself the trouble.

Well put. More for me.

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News Roundup for March 30, 2018

Not to do a total spoiler alert, I have plans to do a wrap up of our recent trip to Florida and the great kombucha we sampled, but I could not resist this write up in the Tampa Bay Times for the Windmill Taphouse in Brandon (which is near Tampa) which, in addition to some rather odd salt caves, is featuring kombucha on tap.

As the review points out:

Speaking of natural remedies, how about kombucha? This fermented tea comes with a lot of dubious health claims, but I look at it as a reasonable alternative to soft drinks, with a potential upside by way of antioxidants and probiotic bacteria. Windmill Taphouse keeps an impressive six varieties on tap, from Tampa Kombucha and Kombucha 221 B.C. from Sarasota.

Kombucha and beer are an interesting combo, and even more so when combined. Enter Unity Vibration from Ypsilanti, Mich.: maker of beer-kombucha hybrids, which you’ll find in stock at Windmill. These odd brews — try ginger, raspberry or, my favorite, bourbon peach — combine the tart/sweet of fruit-flavored kombucha with the funk of wild ales fermented in open oak casks. After trying some regular kombucha on tap, this seems like an appropriate next step.

Right. An increasing number of bars are adding kombucha to their roster. It is an incremental sort of thing; first, in addition to beer, wine and spirits, cider (the alcoholic kind) became part of the “beverage program” (h/t to Jon Taffer); next comes kombucha, kombucha cocktails, and kombucha beers. In our part of the world, Jester King brewery teamed up with Buddha’s Brew to create such a potion.
I won’t tell you now the best kombucha we had in Florida—but it’s not one of the ones mentioned above.


Putting kombucha in cans is a thing. While some are offended by such an idea, there is a reason to believe such a method can increase the brew’s shelf life. At least, that’s what we learned about beer in our beer-tasting class in Peru.

BevNet reports that New Jersey-based Nitro Beverage Co. is looking at a number of new product lines but also putting its kombucha in cans.

Nitro COO Kareem Elhamasy told BevNET canning its kombucha is something well under consideration. “To find someone who not only can [package kombucha in cans] but also have the nitro was a little bit ahead of its time,” he said. “But now that more companies are starting to can, I think we’ll be able to do that hopefully within the next year.”

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News Roundup for March 29, 2018

Taking a little different approach to today’s news roundup, here are some of the cool Instagram posts from kombucha brewers for you to drink in (yes, I meant to say that)

From Sumbucha:

A post shared by Sum Bucha (@sumbucha) on

From marymaikombucha:

From hbhappybliss

From fermbombucha (Belgium)

A post shared by FERM Kombucha (@fermkombucha) on

From aviv.kombucha

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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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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.

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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.