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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.