Starbucks is going to start selling their own brand of kombucha, the trendy fermented tea beverage. A company spokesperson commented, “Since we’re already overcharging for burnt coffee, expensive, moldy tea didn’t seem like much of a stretch.”
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
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.