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Kombucha Has Some Proven Health Benefits

Kombucha has always been touted for its health benefits—sometimes based on clinical research, sometimes based on the wisdom of the foodie forward crowd. In reality, recent studies find some unexpected benefit from the probiotic component in this popular fizzy brew.

As we age, it’s a fact our bones lose their calcium composition which can lead to such issues as obstreperous and osteopenia. With either of these maladies, bones become brittle and subject to fractures and other related problems. A study from the University of Gothenberg which was published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus reuteri is effective at significantly cutting bone loss.

Lactobacillus reuteri is not only found in kombucha but also in such fermented foods as kimchi and miso soup.

Before rushing out to supplement your kombucha supply to keep your bones strong and supple, keep in mind that selecting a bottle (or can) that uses green tea as its base can offer your health benefits beyond a strong gut. Green tea has bioactive compounds that can do everything from reducing cell damage, offer powerful antioxidants, and provide a form of caffeine that stimulates your brain without giving you the jitters associated with coffee.

A British Heart Foundation study has found a “compound found in green tea, currently is being studied for its ability to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, also breaks up and dissolves potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.”

A few notable brands that offer flavors made with green tea include Wonder Drink Kombucha, CommuniTea, and if you find yourself in Germany (especially Berlin), Barbucha. Read the label of your favorite brew to see if it uses green tea in one of its offerings

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Molson Coors Makes a Bold Purchase With Clearly Kombucha

A while back, we commented that the commercial kombucha industry would likely face a period of consolidation and acquisitions. To be honest, both of those trends have been slow to materialize for several reasons that range from issues that include government regulations and market fragmentation.

Clearly Kombucha, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, moves the acquisition needle after being purchased by Molson Coors, brewers of such brands as Carling, Blue Moon, Coors and Molson (of course). The purchase was led by the company’s TAP Ventures group which is charged with expanding its overall line to include more brewed, fermented and distilled products.

According to a story in BevNET, “The TAP Ventures team has been looking into opportunities in the kombucha space for the past year and identified Clearly Kombucha as an attractive company based on the growth of the health and wellness category, as well as the strength and expertise of the Clearly Kombucha team,” a Molson Coors spokesman wrote in an email to BevNET.

A few interesting points to consider:

  • Molson Coors will provide Clearly Kombucha will the opportunity for greater distribution. But, as the story points out, the company’s beer distributor clients will have the option to carry the kombucha line or pass. It raises the question whether fermented beverages fit the profile of large beer distributors and larger retailers such as BevMo and Total Wine and More.
  • The need for refrigeration in both transport and storage/display could pose an issue, especially for beer distributors.
  • One of the reasons that many brands have not expanded is the lack of control that happens when the brewing process takes place at remote or partner facilities. Will Clearly Kombucha be brewed at its current location or move to some of Molson Coors production sites?
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Here Comes Vegan Gelatin

Like many, you have no doubt looked at the scoby used to brew your kombucha and gazed in amazement. As we have written about several times, beyond creating a batch of brew, there are many uses—some straightforward, some quite creative—for that odd-looking powerful, probiotic, squishy matter.

An article in Live Kindly profiles, perhaps—and we only say perhaps—that is some of the foundational thinking beyond the work taking place at Geltor, a company producing a vegan substitute for gelatin. Traditional gelatin—used in more recipes than anyone imagines—is a byproduct of animal collagen. Yes, it is gross. Gelator and others in this area may have looked at a scoby and wondered if a microbial-based vegan rennet could be created that resembles or has the same properties as a scoby.

The largest benefit to a vegan gelatin would be in the manufacturing of such tasty treats as marshmallows and Gummy Bears. It would also make sense that the makers of Jell-O (Kraft) might consider a line of vegan gelatins.

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Kombucha Scoby as Packaging

Young people are out to save the world. Or at least as much of it as they can.

Case in point: Polish design student Roza Janusz has devised a method to make edible packaging from a scoby (that odd looking biological substance used to make kombucha) that farmers can use for their harvest which allows them to bring them to market (or other destination) without any waste.

This story in Fast Code Design has all the details.

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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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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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An Earth Day Special: Creative Reuses for Scobys

When brewing kombucha, there are many beneficial byproducts. A healthy, probiotic liquid is the primary reward, but after many brews, a typical result is a large number of spooky-looking substances called scobys. Like me, most home kombucha makers house them in scoby hotels that take up most of the tall refrigerator space.

Personally, I have experimented with scoby sorbet and dehydrated scoby fruit leathers, as well some chunks of treats for my 90-lb. chocolate lab — who surprisingly loved it!

Kombucha Kamp, with Hannah Crum, shares five ideas for using scobys around the house and garden. Tips on using scobys for facials, gardening, feeding pets and as an ingredient in vegan sushi are the start of creative ideas.

Most fascinating of the potential uses is topical as a living band-aid or, in some cases, as a second skin or a biofilm. Kombucha Kamp points out that “one of the terms for the SCOBY is zooglea, which translates as “living skin” and helps heal the skin from burns, wounds and other skin ailments. Biofilms are not new and have a wide range of applications from medicinal bandages, replacement blood veins, speaker diaphragms and more. They have one of the bacteria native to the Kombucha culture – to create this biofilm.”

At home, you can apply pieces of the scoby topically. Put a piece on a cut, burn or wound and place a band-aid over it. This will prevent the growth of bad bacteria and start the healing process.
But there is so much more that can benefit others with this goopy mass of bacteria. And there are some people that are doing amazing things. Suzanne Lee gave a Ted talk about making clothing from dried scobys, given that it contains the cellulose similar to some fabrics. It is called ScobyTec.

Sasha Laurin is manufacturing the material in the form of a leather, making Kombucha Couture a trendy fashion statement. It creates a sustainable fabric out of the natural brewing byproduct.

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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 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.