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Touring Barton Creek Mall Farmers Market

Yes, there is kombucha!

At the Kombucha Network, our goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle. One way is to start by eating farm-fresh organic food. The local farmers market is always a good place to start.

Here in Austin, there are several farmers markets, including ones downtown and two at local malls north and south of the city.

On a rainy Saturday in September, we tackle the one at the Barton Creek Mall, a few miles south of downtown. Because of the weather, there was no music.

Enjoy our tour.

Here are some of the vendors you will see in the video:

Buddha’s Brew kombucha

Johnson Backyard Gardens produce

Kitchen Pride mushrooms

Mum Foods brisket, pastrami

Tacodeli

K&S Seafood

Hemp 360

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Kombucha Hunters: On The Road

As we travel about the country, we are always searching for new kombucha brewers and anxiously tasting new flavor combinations. One vendor called us “kombucha hunters” which seemed to perfectly sum up our interest in kombucha — so it stuck.

Most recently our travels have been predominantly in the United States. Since we have been intrigued by kombucha for several years, we wanted to share our overview of the changes we have observed in the landscape of kombucha.

Here are our current observations:

  • Kombucha started in many communities with vendors at farmers markets. As these vendors grow, they get into local stores or open a taproom. Think Panacea Brewing in Wilmington, NC (thankfully, they survived the hurricane), going from two markets to a taproom. Recent visits to the Hollywood Farmers Market and Santa Monica Farmers Market were surprising in that there were no kombucha vendors at either market. What that tells us, though LA is a very progressive market, is that kombucha is part of the local lifestyle and available beyond farmers market and similar outlets. Given that it is now available at Starbucks, that trend will probably continue. That doesn’t mean new vendors won’t start at local markets. Once such market vendor is Sanctuary Kombucha, in Round Rock, TX. They sell their apothecary goods as well as food products at the Wolf Ranch Farmers Market on Saturdays in Georgetown, TX.
  • Geographically, as we work on updating our directory, the number of brewers is growing. The map had many gaps when we first started two years ago and some states had no vendors at all. But these market opportunities are beginning to be met. A notable example is the new brewer, BareBucha available on a truck, in Waco, TX. Also, Phoenix, AZ had no local brewer until All About the Booch opened. It is exciting to see small business people with a passion for health jump into the market. It will continue to be, in most cases, a small market product given the challenges of producing and transporting kombucha while maintaining quality.
  • We cannot ignore the fact that big beer vendors are seeing the benefit of adding kombucha to their beverage lineups. The purchase of Clearly Kombucha by Molson Coors is a good example where the distribution network of a beer vendor is perfect for expansion. The challenge is successfully transporting a refrigerated beverage in some parts of the country with excessive heat. Bottling kombucha in cans will help address some of the transport issues. It also will broaden the market opportunities, allowing it to go to the beach, boating and other outdoor activities where glass is forbidden.
  • Existing brewers are adding new blends and varieties, including drinking vinegars, shrubs, and kefirs to name a few. Live Soda, here in Austin, TX, has several offerings in its product line after starting with kombucha. GT’s has added kefirs and coconut yogurts to its offerings. The kimchi flavor kefir is a definitely unique (and delicious) flavor offering. GT’s is fueling its growth by placing local brand ambassadors promoting their products in select parts of the US.
  • Alcohol content continues to be an issue for kombucha brewers. Controlling the quantity of alcohol in a kombucha requires careful management of the production process. One way to deal with that is to sell hard kombucha. Kyla Kombucha is a hard kombucha with two flavors. The alcohol content is 6.5% and adds kombucha to a range of alcoholic beverage offerings. We first saw it in Southern California (of course) and then happened to be in the mothership Whole Foods location the day it launched in Texas. There will likely be more entrants in to this market opportunity. We have noted that various states label kombucha differently when they contain more alcohol. We have seen a black label for some GT’s products in Florida that specifies higher alcohol content.
  • Millennials, aren’t they great? They drink kombucha with their meals, as their all day beverage and seek it out on tap in restaurants. DIY kits are now readily available in natural food stores, home brewing stores and online. When we first started brewing six years ago, it took a long time to find a starter kit at Wheatsville Coop in Austin. Now, that store has three flavors of kombucha on tap. We recently purchased a starter kit for our millennial, an avid kombucha drinker. She placed the first batch on the shelf next to a Sonos speaker, just above the vintage vinyl collection. Not sure if it was the music, or the light, or the good feeling of being in Southern California — but the brew was perfect and better than any of our recent ones.
  • Kombucha will continue to find acceptance in the mainstream grocery store as more people become exposed to it. In many outlets, it still requires a scavenger hunt to find where it is located, although many stores are beginning to have a cooler dedicated to kombucha offerings. First Starbucks, What’s next? 7-11?

To conclude, those are our current thoughts and observations from the road as we continue our hunt. Follow our travels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Please share with your thoughts and ideas.

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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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News Roundup for April 24, 2018

Good news for the kombucha industry—it’s a hit with millennials.

Bravo’s Alesandra Dubin checked in from the annual Coachella music and all-things-cool fest to say that the kombucha bar was one of the best food-related things she found at the California event.

Durbin writes: Maybe it’s the L.A. girl in me, but I just love me some kombucha — nothing makes me feel more refreshed and detoxified than a swig of the stuff, even if most of the benefit is psychological. This year’s new curated on-site program featuring kombucha sommeliers, and I was pretty psyched to try some of the brews made just for the festival.

Cool down with an ice cold bucha @wacofarmersmkt

Here in Austin, as this article from the Baylor Lariat points out, we have about four or five kombucha brewers, but poor Waco (96 miles north of Texas’ capital) was probiotic beverage free until the launch of Bare Bucha. Sold from a van that makes its way around town to various markets, Bare Bucha also can be found at some local store.

“We are the only people in Waco who make our kombucha here, and sell it here,” Kelly Doolittle, manager of operations at Bare Bucha said in a recent interview. “There are several Austin companies that sell it here; Austin has at least five to six big companies that all sell nationwide.”

Doolittle goes on to expand on the claim that everything is bigger in Texas—including kombucha: “Because of Austin, [the state of] Texas is one of the biggest consumers and sellers of kombucha in the United States,” Doolittle said. “There’s a market for kombucha here, and we’re not necessarily trying to create it, but strengthen it. There are a lot of people who are adventurous, who are into this health-type stuff. Even if they don’t know what kombucha is, they’re very willing to try it.”


Perhaps it’s the influence of its new master, Amazon, but Whole Foods released some data that shows what its top sellers are in various regions.
In the Midwest (as tabulated from a store in Cincinnati), Live Soda (a probiotic beverage) is listed as an “up and comer.”
In the Northeast (as tabulated from a store in Piscataway, N.J.), KeVita Master Brew Kombucha is a top-selling beverage.
In the Northwest (as tabulated from a store in Whitefish, MT), GT’s Kombucha takes the top two spots followed by KeVita Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic Elderberry.
In the Southwest (as tabulated from a store in Sierra, AZ), the top up and comer is Wild Tonic Kombucha, on tap in the store.
In the West (as tabulated from a store in Concord, CA), GT’s Kombucha came in second in the beverage category.


From our best of Twitter:
You must love this Tweet from Wild Kombucha


And anyone who loves the beach will adore this Tweet featuring a bottle of Big Easy kombucha against the backdrop of a large, tantalizing stretch of sand (presumable somewhere along the Gulf).

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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 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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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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Kombucha Grows in the Heartland (that’s Iowa)

The heartland of the US is gearing up to have more kombucha. In addition to being “heaven”, Iowa can be proud of two new business ventures. With ample farmland and access to innovative, natural ingredients, this is one to add to our next road trip.

In Waterloo, Iowa, there is the potential of Iowa’s second kombucha brewery in a redone downtown market space. According to a story in Waterloo newspaper, The Courier, the proposal from a new venture called Verve Kombucha, is one of three competing to reuse the downtown building.

Verve Kombucha is a partnership between SingleSpeed founder Dave Morgan, a local developer and the folks behind Sidecar Coffee.

The report states that the plan would open Iowa’s second kombucha brewery with an accompanying bistro. Already featured in our directory, Wild Culture Kombucha, based in Iowa City, has been in the market close to 10 years and is available on tap, in retail stores and at local restaurants.

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Our Kombucha Journey Rolls On at Full Speed

Time flies when you are attempting to sample every kombucha flavor in the world. And, also to meet every brewer in the world.

For the past six years, after adding kombucha to our diet to fulfill the need for more alkalinity, the journey that led us to this website (especially in the recent relaunch) has been more than we ever expected. We build our travel around how many brewers can we visit; what supermarkets and local grocers are carrying kombucha (it’s a way of finding cool, new brands) and what new trends are emerging based on kombucha that makes its way to farmers markets and small warehouses tucked away off a bustling freeway.

In 2017, we sampled kombucha, Naturia, in Warsaw at a natural food store a few blocks from our hotel by the central train station. We then brought a starter kit to our Workaway host who lives on a farm south of Gdansk. On that same trip, we then flew to Berlin for the express purpose of meeting master brewer Ted (Tadeusz Zagrabinski) at his restaurant/brewery/mad food scientist workshop, Café Barbucha. Additionally, we came across some local German brands (such as Carpe Diem from the folks behind Red Bull) with the growing number of Berlin supermarkets carrying vegan food and beverages. BTW, we will be posting our video interview with Ted in the next week.

Earlier that year, our voyage of all things probiotic beverage took us to the Southeastern part of the U.S. In Wilmington, N.C., we met the founders of Panacea Brewing and later that same trip we came across Dalia Sofia, a small brewer in South Carolina.

On each of these trips, we visit supermarkets big and small where we come across brands new to us, such as Big Easy Bucha, Bucha, Simple Truth, Lenny Boy, and more. It is through these journeys that we learn first hand the differences in taste and brewing method. We take in the thought behind various approaches—long brewing time, short secondary brews, unusual teas and flavorings, and so on. It has made us even more dedicated to our mission of covering the world of kombucha with spirit and insight. We are also intrigued by innovative sales strategies, from self-serve on tap in grocery stores to unmanned storefronts with kombucha and jun taps (such as SOMA in Portland, OR.)

Stay tuned for more info on past and future journeys. We hope to meet every brewer in the U.S. and abroad.