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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 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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Seattle’s CommuniTea Sticks With Tradition

CommuniTea Kombucha is located in a vintage, red brick building in Seattle’s Central District, sharing the building with other small, local companies. When you walk into the brewery/taproom, you enter a pristine, efficient space that reflects the values of the founder, Chris Joyner. This innovative brewer has had a special journey on his way to creating a product healthy for both the body and the earth.

Brewed in an authentic, traditional style, using exclusively green tea, this kombucha stands out as something different. A sip of the kombucha gives clean, dry, tea flavor with a delightful, refreshing bubbly finish. The tea is exclusively from “ a high-quality, biodynamically grown green tea from Darjeeling’s Makaibari Tea Estate brewed in a 40-gallon steam kettle.” The process is also a bit different than the brewers that add flavors or sweeteners in their secondary fermentation. CommuniTea ferments the tea mixture for eight days, before the secondary fermentation of about two weeks. This yields an extra effervescence to the finished product.

Sustainability is evident throughout the production process. The fermentation room is upstairs, as heat rises. When it is time to bottle, the bottles are filled using gravity to the lower level. Bottles and jugs are reused and sterilized to minimize resource consumption. The use of the flip top bottles allows each bottle to retain its effervescence until it reaches the consumer. To assure consistent product quality, the kombucha is available in select Seattle-area stores, restaurants, and in the tasting room.

The brewery doubles as a tasting room, allowing the consumer to view the brewing process. With a nod to the fact that traditional kombucha generates a small yet measurable percentage of alcohol, the company is licensed as a registered brewery.

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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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See Us at World Tea Expo in Vegas

As part of our relaunch, we (all two of us) will be more visible at major industry events. Our initial foray in covering such gatherings will be in June at World Tea Expo 2018 in Las Vegas. Later this year, we hope to make a presence at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore.

Why World Tea Expo? Well, of course, kombucha is made of tea and we hope to meet tea growers from around the world and learn how the variety of tea yields different natural kombucha tastes. This year, the World Tea Expo will be launching a kombucha pavilion. That should lead to a lot of stories, videos, interviews, photos and more from attendees.

If you’d like to meet with us at the World Tea Expo, drop us a line. The contact info is at the bottom of our site.