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New Nordic Cuisine Inspires Kombucha Brewers

Copenhagen has emerged as a destination on the vegan food scene internationally. Given the creativity of all the food options, it is no surprise that they have also taken the next step in brewing kombucha.

Chef Rene Redzepi shares his recipes for kombucha brewed with apple juice. By using a fruit base, it results in a beverage more like wine, another fermented fruit beverage. It opens up a world of possibilities with fruit juice and expands the ability of kombucha serve as a mixer.

Hybrid beverages, such as an alcoholic kombucha, result in more shelf (or cooler) space for the beverage. Kyla Hard Kombucha is one example of this, currently available in the US in two flavors. The market response will definitely drive the ongoing creation of new, hybrid kombuchas and related beverages.

Here’s How To Make Kombucha According To Noma’s René Redzepi

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Kombucha at Cafe Barbucha, Berlin

Well, it took more than a year for this video to go from taping to putting it up online.

The reason? We just completed a terrific one-day course on beginning editing (at Austin’s Precision Camera) which allowed us to cut seven minutes of footage into its best two-plus minutes.

The video was shot at Berlin’s Café Barbucha and features its owner/master brewer/wizard of all thing fermented, Ted Zagrabinski. Ted has some interesting things to say about his journey to becoming one of Germany’s (if not all of Europe’s) leading kombucha brewers.

With some basic editing skills in hand, future videos will not take a year to put up.

 

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News Roundup for June 19, 2018

Been a while since we have been on the daily beat, but here goes with a quick update:
I never remember the difference between horizontal and vertical integration, but Happy Kombucha, based in the U.K. obviously does. This company understands that the market is flooded with kombucha brewers, so they are making its mark as a supplier of all things fermented. This means that Happy will be providing supplies and equipment to home brewers and fermenters, in addition to supplying commercial brewers. From the tools to make fermented vegetables to kefir, if it is related to this healthy brand of eating, they have it.

A spokesperson for Happy Kombucha told Digital Journal they are now offering their wares at sale prices to stimulate interest in this popular trend: “Here at happy Kombucha we love to hold sales where possible, and this sale has definitely been incredibly popular. The fermenters available on our website are all incredibly high quality allowing for people to make their very own perfect fermented foods and are long lasting too. Anyone requiring more information or interested in purchasing fermenting equipment and the lowest possible prices should visit our website today.”

Happy Kombucha also sells the popular UK kombucha brand Love Kombucha. A five-pack of mixed flavors go for 12.25 GBP ($16.14).


I have no intention of ever moving to Buffalo, but it sure is tempting when a developer called The Barrell Factory—a new loft community in the city’s Old First ward–is touting the eateries and bars in the new development and one of the pillars happens to be Snowy Owl Kombucha.

Snowy Owl won “best tasting station” in 2017 Best of WNY competition. (That’s Western New York, FYI). Current flavors include Tart Cherry Coconut and Strawberry Lemonade.


The U.S. is not alone in its inability to develop proper uniform regulations for acceptable alcohol levels in kombucha. The issue is not setting guidelines, but more the inability for effective enforcement and monitoring. One brewer in Australia (who goes to great lengths to keep his alcohol levels low) maintains the government needs to do random checks on kombucha for sale in retail.
Jeff Low, a brewer in New South Wales told ABC News in Australia that Food Standards Australia and New Zealand need to be more proactive in its monitoring. “[They need] testing for alcohol, testing for probiotic, making sure it’s still alive, that it is a living product and it’s not pasteurized.”

Here are a few Tweets worth a second look:

Invoking the heavens:

From a London brewer sampling its wares at Taste of London

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Is Kombucha Healthy–The Debate Rages On

A piece in Pop Sugar debates the health merits of kombucha. Yes, there are millions of probiotics that add to the beneficial ones already found in the digestive tract. The fact of the matter is, that if it helps your body and digestive system stay healthy and balanced, and you enjoy drinking it, then you should enjoy it. Contrarians believe there is no scientific proof that long-term drinking of kombucha aids overall health conditions.

The same health debate exists for coffee — good for you or cancer-causing. For tea, fans weigh the value of green vs. black and hot vs. cold. Is there a magic formula for any of these beverages?

As more producers with health-inspired offerings, enter the market and are creative with their flavor blending –(for example, Health-Ade jalapeno-kiwi-cucumber or Caboost Kombucha’s hibiscus sangria) more consumers will be tempted to try it. Social media buzz and clever marketing campaigns will also begin to take hold and reach millennial consumers. And, as brewers also experiment with packaging, cans (such as Brew Dr.), bottle, flip top, the market will organically evolve and become a competitor to other lifestyle-branded drinks.

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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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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 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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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.

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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: