Brooke and Jesse Rich, Rich Elixirs, Costa Mesa, CA, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?
(Jesse) I first discovered Kombucha, when I stumbled upon it at the store. I loved it so much that I started buying a ton of it! I began researching everything on Kombucha and then started making my own!

(Brooke) I went through some major stomach issues when I was 21, and began taking probiotics. I researched all the things that had probiotics in them, and discovered kombucha did! Ever since then, I’ve been drinking & loving it!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?
We started our kombucha business because we were so passionate about the product & how beneficial it has been for both of us. Our friends loved our kombucha as well, and we decided that we wanted the ability to share with everyone in our community!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha?
Our top flavors are Gt’s Ginger Hibiscus & Guava Goodness!

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?
(Jesse) I work as an IT Manager. (Brooke): I freelance Graphic Design!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?
We love this quote and saying, “Doubt kills more dreams then failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem

Eric Elliott, Reputation Beverage Co, DeWitt, MI, USA 


Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Fall of 2018, my wife brought a GT’s Gingerade. I was blow away by the flavor.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

January 2019, after that first experience with GT’s, it set in motion trying to make my own at home. After a few batches I realized my small town didn’t have any local Kombucha. I wanted to share with my community how fantastic Kombucha is!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Honestly my go-to is GT’s Gingerade.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I spent my career in the alcohol industry. From a beer distribution sales rep, to running a beer distributor. Moved from distributor to starting my own mico brewery in Michigan. In Oct 2018 I sold the brewery. After some time off spent with my family, I decided to start Reputation Beverage Co. A Kombucha and Nitro Coffee brand here in Mid-Michigan.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Work Hard, Play Hard

Mark Bostleman and Mollie Houkom, Ascent Kombucha, Driggs, ID, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I bought my first kombucha in 2003 in Boulder, Colorado after a friend told me about it and I’ve been drinking kombucha ever since!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

I followed my passion and when I look back I can see all the different paths that have led me here. I have a real sense of peace knowing I am doing what I am meant to be doing in this moment.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Wild Culture Kombucha’s Ginger Hibiscus Jasmine

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I have mostly worked as a self employed massage therapist.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

John Muir wrote, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” I’ve made a life in the mountains to be close to nature. I try to spend time outside every day to clear my mind and it’s where I find answers, new ideas and inspiration.


Kombucha HACCP Plan Template Review

Presented by:
Susan Fink


Susan has a bachelors degree in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin, an MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago and has spent 40 years in the food industry working in various capacities including manufacturing, quality and R&D. In 2011, Susan founded KARMA KOMBUCHA , and was a KBI founding member and board director for five years. She continues to remain active with KBI serving as a consultant on various technical and regulatory issues. As an independent consultant, Susan also helps fledgling entrepreneurs with formulation, regulatory, and other key parameters related to beverage startups.


The Food Modernization and Safety Act (FSMA) is now law for all sizes of businesses across the United States. FSMA aims to shore up the food supply by requiring manufacturers of all sizes to be completely responsible for what’s in their products at all times. This means any food production business is required to generate several supporting documents that outlines every step of the process including HACCP plan (Hazardous And Critical Control Points), lot coding and recall procedures.

This hazard analysis is used to identify and control reasonable foreseeable biological, chemical, and physical hazards within the preparation, use, storage, transportation, and sale of perishable goods. It also determines critical control points (CCP) in the process of food production. If a preventative control is identified, written documentation of monitoring and verification procedures, corrective actions, and recall plan are required for each process control.

While there are many resources that one can read online or courses one can take to understand the principles, there are few resources outside of hiring a consultant that demonstrates how to apply these principles directly to Kombucha manufacturing. KBI is thrilled to announce that we now have editable templates for generating a HACCP plan for your Kombucha manufacturing process – one of the key pieces required by most state and local regulators prior to launching a Kombucha business.

Having a plan is only one piece of the puzzle, then the manufacturer has to be able to articulate to their inspectors the entire Kombucha fermentation process from SCOBY & starter liquid to finished product. Join us for an engaging discussion with Susan Fink, former Kombucha manufacturer of Karma Kombucha and food safety expert from her many years working at Kraft Foods and other large food manufacturers. This webinar will walk you through the template so you can fill it out based on your process plus provide an opportunity to ask questions.

We hope you will join us for this vital and engaging presentation. Webinar tickets provide access to the presentation but does not include the templates which are only available to KBI members at this time.

TEMPLATES AVAILABLE HERE (must be KBI member to access the templates).

We invite you to listen in and ask questions. FREE for KBI Members; $100 for non-members.


February 26th 11:30am PST


DATE: February 26th, 2020
TIME: 11:30am-1:30pm PST; 30 min presentation & 15 min Q&A
COST: Free for KBI members, $100 for non-members
Have questions? Please send in advance to

Want to see other KBI webinars? Find them here.

Not a KBI Member, JOIN TODAY

Miguel Irarrazaval, Dr. Kombú Kombucha, Santiago, Chile  

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

It was in 2004, when my elder brother initiated in the Hare Krishna religion, and brought many healthy foods and a healthy life style to our family. He started selling the blessed kombucha in plastic bottles in the streets, in orange clothing. I met many wonderful people, and they were always at festivals sharing booch and delicious food. Our family has been producing to share and sell since then.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I wanted to share this healthy beverage with everybody! It is so delicious but people didn’t know it. Chile is the number three consumer of soft drinks per capita in the word, and I wanted to be part of the change for good.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

My favourite Kombucha I have tried is the Wonder Drink Cherry and Black Currant.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I am a Paragliding Instructor, and my career is Agronomist.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Michigan, despite previously stating that kombucha was not covered by its bottle bill laws, has now determined that kombucha is a non-alcoholic, carbonated beverage and is subject to the bottle bill laws. Pursuant to a press release issued by the Michigan Dept. of Treasury, companies have until May 1, 2020, to get in compliance. After that, retailers must collect deposits and kombucha containers not marked with deposit information would be considered non-compliant.

The Department is cognizant that retailers and manufacturers may have relied upon its previous informal guidance that kombucha products were not subject to the bottle deposit law. Accordingly, retailers and manufacturers must begin complying with the Department’s determination no later than May 1, 2020. After that date, all parties in the distribution chain must begin collecting and refunding deposits on kombucha containers, as they do for other nonalcoholic carbonated beverages, and kombucha containers that are not marked with the required deposit information may not validly be sold in the state.

You can read the full notice here.


Where can I find information about proper labeling of beverage containers?”

‘MCL Section 445.572(7) states: “Each beverage container sold or offered for sale by a dealer within this state shall clearly indicate by embossing or by a stamp, a label, or other method securely affixed to the beverage container, the refund value of the container and the name of this state.” For more information, contact Mr. Kenneth Wozniak, Michigan Liquor Control Commission, at 517-322-5900 or 517-322-1140.’


Katarina Schwarz, Katboocha, Rochester, NY, USA  


Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

2015 via my now fiancee’s family!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

I saw a need for kombucha in Rochester, NY, a town that prides itself on their local food and beverage scene. It started as a small idea, with the idea to test the waters. Shortly after, I was joined by 3-4 other local kombucha brewing companies all within the first year and a half!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Hmm…I’m always up for a mate kombucha!

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I have a degree in classical music and prior to starting Katboocha, I was a musician, and I worked for Public Radio/TV.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Just show up. Failure isn’t falling down, it’s not getting back up.

We are always searching for ways to create additional value for all of our members. To that end, we are spearheading a new opportunity for providing education and hands-on training at KombuchaKon ’20.  Our theme this year is “Leveling Up” and one of the areas our members have mentioned as a knowledge gap is in hands on experience working with lab and testing equipment to ensure the quality control aspects of brewing commercial Kombucha.

We are excited the following speakers and companies will be partnering with us to bring you this exciting opportunity.

The Core 4 – pH, Brix, TA & ABV with Evan Beyers & Kelley Freeman (BABS)

  • Educate attendees about basic lab practices (safety, pipetting, mixing, and note-taking)
  • Teach attendees the theory behind pH and how to optimally take pH samples. Have them perform their own pH measurements with demo equipment
  • Show attendees how to properly clean and maintain pH probe to get the maximum life out of probe
  • Educate attendees about the theory and background of a titration
  • Introduce attendees to the sour/sweet ratio (TA/Sugar).
  • Have them perform demo titrations using RedCheck
  • Explain to attendees how to use collect sugar and TA data to build sour/sweet ratio

RIDA®CUBE for In-House Enzyme Testing – Sugars, Acids, Ethanol and more (R-Biopharm)

  • Learn how to run enzymatic test kits on the RIDA®CUBE system including ethanol, organic acids, and sugars.
  • Learn how to use pipettors & discuss common pipetting errors (and how to avoid them!)
  • Discuss potential sampling issues.

Ethanol & Glucose Testing (OptiEnz Sensors)

What’s in your kombucha? It’s a critical question – one requiring fast and accurate measurements for the effective monitoring of ethanol and glucose concentrations in commercial kombucha processes. Proper monitoring results in higher product quality, product consistency, process improvement and efficiency, and verification that the alcoholic content doesn’t exceed the 0.5% ABV threshold for non-alcoholic beverages. OptiEnz has developed a fast, accurate, and low-cost analyzer for measuring ethanol and glucose in kombucha. The analyzer is based on optical enzymatic biosensing technology, meaning that enzymes and light are used together to accurately measure the alcohol and sugar in the beverage. In this workshop, attendees will learn about optical enzymatic biosensing principals as well as how to calibrate the instrument, make measurements in kombucha, and interpret the data produced.

  • Learn about optical enzymatic biosensor principals and applications
  • Hands-on instruction for making measurements with an OptiEnz analyzer.
  • Discussion about interpreting data.

From Distillation to Alcolyzer (Anton Paar)

  • Learn about tools and techniques to monitor and control your fermentation process

FUN-damentals of Kombucha Microscopy with Keisha Rose Harrison (OSU)

  • How to prepare a sample for plating
  • How to select media
  • How to perform a dilution series for plating
  • How to streak or spread plate to decide which technique works best
  • How to colony pick
  • DNA extraction from an isolated colony
  • How to prepare a wet mount for microscopic view
  • How to use a microscope
  • How to distinguish between yeast & bacteria under the microscope
  • How to characterize morphology of yeast & bacteria under the microscope
  • How to distinguish between AAB & LAB under the microscope

Attend just 1 session for $49 or attend all 5 for $199!


By Dave Ransom of McDermott, Will & Emery

Late in December, right before the holidays, the U.S. Congress did what it often does: At the literal 11th hour, Congress passed legislation that will fund the operations of the federal government through September 30, 2020.

Had Congress failed to pass these appropriations bills (or had President Trump refused or declined to sign them into law), the federal government (or big parts of it) would have shut down due to a lack of funding.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted that this year. Instead, the leaders in each party, and the President, cooperated and negotiated on these bills. And now, the federal government will continue to operate.

Everyone in Washington, D.C., knows that these so-called “omnibus” appropriations bills (where several funding bills are packaged into one or two bills) are really nothing less than an opportunity to tuck extraneous measures that are unrelated to the underlying appropriations bills into those bills.

Predictably, that’s exactly what happened this year. That is, deep in the nearly 2,000-page “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act,” (H.R. 1865) – a bill that funds, among others, the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture – is “Division Q – Revenue Provisions.”

Division Q is where the Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) and our allies on Capitol Hill had hoped to place the “KOMBUCHA Act” (S. 926/H.R. 1961) to ensure its enactment into law.

Recall that our bipartisan bill, the KOMBUCHA Act, is non-controversial and would do one thing: It would raise the alcohol by volume (ABV) threshold for Kombucha to 1.25% ABV from the current threshold of 0.5% ABV. Today, as you know, if your Kombucha leaves the brewery at, say, 0.4% ABV but increases to above 0.5% ABV after leaving the brewery, you are subject to federal excise taxes intended for beer.

That is a patently unfair and outdated result. The Congress never intended to make Kombucha subject to federal excise taxes intended for beer. So today, KBI and our friends in Congress are trying to change the law by increasing the threshold for Kombucha to 1.25% ABV. Only Kombucha above that level (1.25%) would be subject to federal excise taxes if the KOMBUCHA Act became law.

Unfortunately, however, Congressional leaders chose to strictly limit the tax provisions included in “Division Q” to already expired or expiring tax provisions. For example, the “mine rescue team training [tax] credit” expired on December 31, 2017, nearly two full years ago. In Division Q, it was extended by simply striking the date December 31, 2017, and inserting “December 31, 2020.”

Similarly, American small craft beer brewers have enjoyed a lower federal tax rate on the beer they produce since January 1, 2018. However, that lower rate was set to expire on December 31, 2019. In Division Q of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, the 2019 date was struck and in its place was inserted, “December 31, 2020.”

Small, craft beer brewers – who have been arguing to make the lower tax rate permanent – will enjoy the lower rate for at least one more year. Something (a one-year extension of lower rates) is better than nothing.

And so it went in “Division Q – Revenue Provisions.” KBI and our allies had hoped that Congressional leaders would be open to including additional, non-controversial provisions in that section of the bill. They did that in 2015 when Congress passed the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.” For example, in the PATH Act, Congress tweaked several provisions related to hard cider.

This year, though, Congress took a much more limited approach.

Despite all this, KBI, the Kombucha industry, and our allies have real opportunities in 2020 to try to enact the KOMBUCHA Act.

Many tax provisions were left on the cutting room floor in December 2019. Chief among those is a tax change that would benefit retailers who make improvements to their property. The retailers will likely pull out the stops to try to secure passage of their provision. Likewise, there are an array of so-called “technical corrections” that were mostly just drafting errors in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Republicans, in particular, want to clean up those technical corrections.

Any effort to address a tax provision in Congress in 2020 is an opportunity for KBI to try to include the KOMBUCHA Act and secure passage of it.

In the meantime, we will be covering Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers and staff about the need for the KOMBUCHA Act and to seek their support for including it in any tax legislation considered by Congress.

We hope you will consider joining this effort in 2020 to spread the word about the growing and vibrant Kombucha industry, and the need to enact the KOMBUCHA Act.


NEXT HILL CLIMB – MAY 13th, 2020 – Washington, DC

Stay tuned for more details on how you can engage the civic process to benefit your business and industry. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to – ALL KOMBUCHA BREWERS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND!

Marian Flaxman, current LGO coordinator, will be reaching out to brands in various states as part of our continued effort to educate and inform our Congresspeople & Senators about how the KOMBUCHA Act will benefit their constituents and our growing industry.

Dave Ransom will be joining us at KombuchaKon ’20 to present the latest update at the Brewery Members Meeting. Register today!


David Ransom

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Teatulia Bangladesh Trip

By Barbara Wildhaber, BWild Kombucha

Our trip to Bangladesh to visit the Teatulia tea garden was truly amazing!


This trip allowed us to witness firsthand the amount of care and detail that goes into the whole process of making their teas. From visiting their nursery where they grow starts from their mother bushes, to helping plant small tea plants in the garden, to seeing the workers hand plucking leaves, and then finally processing those tea leaves themselves in their tea factory.


Did you know they don’t even use conventional organic pesticides in their garden? They make their own pesticides out of herbs and plants to spray on the tea bushes as needed. Likewise, Teatulia also makes their own fertilizer and bio-diesel! They have a cow lending program that allows them to give cows to women as a business opportunity (which is unheard of in a male dominated country) to pay back the loan in cow dung that Teatulia “purchases” from them. The women get to keep the milk and can sell the extra at the market making money for their families. Some of the women who originally started with the program about 10 years ago now have 15-18 cows and now employ their husbands to help them take care of the cows!



Teatulia has also built a wonderful relationship with their workers by empowering them to learn what we would consider the basics of school (reading, writing and arithmetic). School is not free in Bangladesh!!! You must pay to even attend public school. Thus, only those with money or sometimes just one child from a family can attend school and that is usually a boy since they are more employable as adults.



They even offer pre-school care for the workers. This is not just play time, but they are also teaching these kids about hygiene, counting and other basic skills through their time together. We were lucky enough to have the kids sing a few songs for us and did a craft with them. They made me glasses and rings out of leaves.




Even being able to see the two sides of the road was both amazing and sad at the same time. On one side of the road you have the beautiful lush tea garden. And the other side of the road is the barren land from rock lifting that is actively happening. Rock lifting is illegal, but it is still actively happening all over. It is like night and day the difference and the road is really like drawing a line in the sand.

Oh, and we cannot forget about the food. We were immersed in their culture with being able to enjoy traditional breakfast, lunches and dinners at the tea garden. Each meal there was a huge, round 10 foot table covered in a full array of flavors and textures. We tried so many different veggies and dishes that I have no idea what I was eating most of the time. But the flavors were amazing, they use so many different spices and combinations than we do. It was spicy but not a hot spicy, a flavorful spicy taste to each dish.  One of my favorites was the rice dish at breakfast (it was like cream of wheat but much better, since I never cared for cream of wheat). John’s favorite was the Parathas with honey on them. I also had a few veggie dishes that I would make sure I had a little extra of on my plate each meal when they served them.


To experience all of this firsthand was truly a gift and one we will not forget. I encourage everyone to get their cards filled out this year (at KKon 2020) so you can enter to win a trip of a lifetime, as I guarantee that you will never look at tea the same way again.