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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 May 6, 2018

We’re a day late, but not a drink short, as we find a great recipe for making margaritas for Cinco de Mayo using kombucha. (Heck, they sound good for any day).

This combo from the music pub Paste Magazine adds a nice touch by adding a probiotic chia seed. Not sure what it does to enhance the result, but it makes the adult beverage a bit healthier.
There are other recipes that all sound like a fun tribute to the Mexican holiday that commemorates our neighbors to the south, holding off the French who were trying to support the South during the Civil War. Look it up.


There’s nothing like an endorsement from the Mayo Clinic to get people to pay attention.
In the Rochester (MN) City Newspaper, there’s a piece about Katboocha, a kombucha produced by Kat Schwarz which is available at Fifth Frame Brewery and other locations in the area that Mayo calls home. In the article, there’s a comment from the renown medical center that says:

“…there is evidence to suggest that drinking kombucha may produce similar effects to taking probiotic supplements, including improved digestion and immune function.” Broadly applied, the comment can refer to kombucha but also to other probiotic beverages (Jun, for example) and foods such as pickles and sauerkraut.

Schwarz pointed to kombucha being favored by millennials because of its appeal as an alternative to heavy alcoholic beverages. “Young people are thinking more about what they’re putting in their bodies,” Schwarz said in the article. “They want it to be something special.”


Speaking of recipes and uses for kombucha, here’s 61-year-old Abha Appasamy, an Indian woman who uses kombucha to make a special hummus. She sells her fermented version of the popular dish by adding liquid from her fermented sauerkraut to the chickpeas for an up-to-date version of this creamy delight.
Appasamy sells her line of kombucha and other one-offs after feedback and interest from fans of her products on Facebook.

“I just wanted to see what sauerkraut juice (fermented for six weeks) added to the hummus might taste like. But then everybody who tried it seemed to love it,” she said in an interview with Indian Express.


Via Twitter, here’s a video post from the BBC about how to make kombucha as well as the reaction from a few folks about whether they fancied this probiotic beverage.

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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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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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Kombucha For the Garden

As we again struggle with our veggie garden, it’s good to know there are myriad ways to enhance your chances of a bumper crop.

But who would have thought adding kombucha to your garden would be one way of turning your thumb (and garden) green.

Read this piece in the local Seattle Greenlaker about a local woman and her tips on using our favorite probiotic beverage in her garden and its results. Dr. Sarah Pellkofer has even started her own company, Micra Culture to share her discovery with others.

Kombucha For Your Plants Created By Local Mom

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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