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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.

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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 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.

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Kombucha Is Legit: Check the Dictionary

Kombucha is now more than just a healthy beverage. One way that you know you are heading towards mainstream is when you get added to the dictionary as a term that people are encountering.
Joining the Merriam-Webster dictionary on a list of new words for foodies is a bold recognition of the potential this probiotic drink. The list of culinary terms definitely reflects the changing origin of foods, with deference to foods and spices from many cultures around the world.
For me, I cook with aquafaba, and knew all the words but one.
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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.