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.

 

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.

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.

 

Jo Kempton, Happy Belly Ferments, New Zealand 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

7 years ago I was introduced to kombucha and water kefir by a specialist who was helping my special needs son with his health. Probiotics were recommended as important to improve his gut health and in turn his behaviour, physical and emotional health. I started brewing kombucha and water kefir as well as making saukeraut and kimchi. The fermented foods and drinks certainly helped a lot. The whole family started drinking kombucha and we loved it.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I had been making kombucha and water kefir for my immediate family and started sharing it with my extended family and friends. They loved it so much they encouraged me to start selling it. It was quite a process to go from home production on the kitchen bench top to commercial production but I’m so pleased I did.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Kate’s Kombucha Blueberry Flavour

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

As well as being a kombucha brewer I am an Energy Healer. I specialise in helping people clear Emotional Baggage from the past which may be holding them back from living the life they dream of. In an earlier part of my life I worked in the banking industry. I also worked for an apple juice manufacturer which gave me loads of useful beverage experience which got me started as a commercial kombucha brewer.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Just Keep Going!

Michelle Leclair, Wolseley Kombucha, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered kombucha while I was in Hawaii attending Wanderlust Yoga Festival back in 2015. I suffered from a lot of digestive issues, and kombucha made me feel so good that I was determined to learn to brew for myself.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Wolseley Kombucha was created very organically. I was brewing kombucha for myself, and my family and my yoga teachers, and from there people in the community kept asking me to brew kombucha for them so the business kept evolving and growing to what it is today.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

My FAV flavour is Elderflower Ginger by Salt Spring Island Kombucha.

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

I am on maternity leave from my MRI technologist job at a medical clinic. So while being a mother and opening Manitoba’s first kombucha tap room, it’s been a wild busy year to say the least. Loving every minute of it!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

LOVE WHAT YOU DO is our mantra and we believe it!

What is Proposition 65?

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act was approved by California voters in 1986 and is known today as Proposition 65 and requires the State of California to publish a list of chemicals and substances known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Proposition 65 is administered by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). OEHHA has listed over 900 chemicals, including naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals present in foods, beverages, pesticides, commonly used household products and personal care products, and more. Proposition 65 is a right-to-know statute; it does not prohibit businesses from selling anything in California. Rather, it requires businesses to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning to Californians before knowingly and intentionally exposing them to a listed chemical or substance. A warning must be given for listed chemicals and substances unless exposure is low enough to pose no significant risk of cancer, or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Proposition 65 And Alcoholic Beverages

OEHHA listed alcohol under Proposition 65 over two decades ago, first listing “ethyl alcohol in alcoholic beverages” as a reproductive toxicant in 1987, then “alcoholic beverages when associated with alcohol abuse” as a carcinogen in 1988, and most recently, “alcoholic beverages” as a carcinogen in 2011.

Safe Harbor Levels

For chemicals listed as carcinogens, the “no significant risk level” (NSRL) is defined as the level of exposure that would result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 people exposed to the chemical over a 70-year lifetime. For chemicals listed as reproductive toxicants, the “no observable effect level” is determined by identifying the level of exposure that has been shown to not pose any harm to humans or laboratory animals. This number is then divided by 1,000 to establish the “maximum allowable dose level” (MADL). OEHHA has established NSRLs and MADLs known as “safe harbors” for some, but not all, of the listed chemicals. If your product contains a Proposition 65 listed chemical at levels below the established safe harbors, you do not need to provide a warning.

No Safe Harbor Guidance For Alchohol

OEHHA has not established safe harbors for any of the Proposition 65 alcohol listings. Businesses that expose individuals to a Proposition 65 listed chemical that does not have an established safe harbor must either provide a Proposition 65 warning or must show that the exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or reproductive harm. Determining the anticipated exposure level is not a simple endeavor and often requires an expensive scientific exposure assessment.

How to Warn

Although most manufacturers may apply Proposition 65 warnings directly to product labels, this is not the case for alcoholic beverages. Why? All alcoholic beverage labels must be approved by the Federal Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and contain the federal warning on the products. The federal warning is not the same as—and is not compliant with—the Proposition 65 warning requirements and thus does not provide a safe harbor under California law. The above warning does not apply to non-alcoholic beverages. For retail sales of alcoholic beverages in stores, businesses may warn by (1) posting the above warning on an 8 ½ x 11-inch sign in at least 22-point font, placed at eye level so it is conspicuous to customers upon entering the area where alcoholic beverages are sold, or by (2) posting the above warning on a 5 x 5-inch sign in at least 20-point font, placed at each retail point of sale or display so it is conspicuous to customers. For alcohol provided for consumption on-premises, or sold over-the-counter, the above warning language must be provided on the drink menu. For alcohol sold or distributed within California through delivery services, a warning must be placed on or in the shipping container/delivery package, in a font at least as big as the rest of the text on the package

Proposition 65 and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

While Proposition 65 is nothing new for the alcoholic beverage industry, Proposition 65 private enforcers have recently targeted traditionally non-alcoholic products based on the alcohol-related Proposition 65 chemicals. Several kombucha retailers and manufacturers have recently been served with notices of violation based on alleged exposure to “ethyl alcohol in alcoholic beverages” and “alcoholic beverages.” In many cases, kombucha is not produced or marketed as an alcoholic beverage, but trace amounts of alcohol may result from the fermentation process, none of which are knowingly or intentionally added to the product before sale. Proposition 65 does not define an alcoholic beverage. Rather, it is defined in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act as containing 0.5% alcohol by volume or more. See CA Bus. & Prof. Code § 23004. It is yet to be seen how the plaintiffs’ bar will attempt to tie the 0.5% ABV definition to Proposition 65, a potential safe harbor level, or the risk of cancer or reproductive toxicity. In the meantime, it is important to have a comprehensive compliance program in place with regular product testing.

Have you received a Prop 65 Notice? Email info@kombuchabrewers.org for guidance & support (membership not required)

References

https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/products/alcoholic-beverages

Proposition 65 and Alcohol

Dr. Peter Barrett, The Bucha’s Dog, Belfast, United Kingdom

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered kombucha around six years ago. I read about it before I ever saw or tasted it. It motivated me to source a scoby online and the first kombucha I ever tasted was my own. It was a bit of a leap of faith to drink what I produced without anyone telling me it was OK. But it turned out to be not too bad and I was hooked. The rest, as this say, is history.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I started the company basically because I personally wanted to drink this product and figured I wasn’t so weird as to be the only one in my area who wanted good kombucha too. There were no kombucha producers in Belfast or Northern Ireland so I figured why not do it and share the kombucha love!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I’ve realised that I really prefer unflavoured kombucha and enjoy the variation from the teas, cultures and brewing methods. But the one memorable kombucha that sticks in my mind that I found when visiting San Francisco a few years ago, and subsequently I sought it out any time I was in California, was Revive’s hibiscus refresher. I will be in LA for KombuchaKon and am looking forward to reacquainting with it.

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

I’m still working the day job! I studied plant science and have a PhD in agronomy. I’ve worked all my career in the agri-food sector, both in academic and commercial roles. For the last six years I’ve run a consultancy company that specializes in supporting farm based biogas fermentation plants. These produce renewable energy from organic materials and usually have over 3 million litre fermentation tanks. I remind myself of that sometimes when I’m managing the process in my little stainless steel tanks and it seems less daunting!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

There’s a line in a Pearl Jam song that resonated with me from the first time I heard it and it continues to speak to me on a number of levels. It’s “Breathing hard, making hay, now this is living”.

Nathan Heerspink, New Holland Brewing, Holland, MI, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Back in ’06 my neighbor (who was a little old babushka) gave me a strain of kefir grain that she brought from the old country. After my first batch of successful kefir, I was hooked on anything fermented. I started a fermentation station in my home and I grew into a wild fermentation wizard. kvass, sauerkraut, wine, mead and beer, yogurt, but what I really started to appreciate was kombucha!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

I always knew about the healing benefits of kombucha, but never thought I could make a living from it! I was hired into New Holland Brewing in 2012 working as a prep/line cook, at that moment I saw wild fermentation more at a culinary point of view. About 2014 I moved to the brewery’s production facility and learned to brew more at an industrial scale. I moved more into sour beer and started to combine the beer industry methods into large scale kombucha brewing. Now I provide funky brews to both locations under the NHBC name.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

It’s a tie between Unity Vibration out near Ann Arbor, MI, they make a great Bourbon Peach Boocha, and Soma Kombucha in Portland, OR has a fennel CBD jun that’s amazing!

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

Before my main path was wild fermentation, I was following the life of culinary artistry. Cooking was a big passion of mine. I loved the lifestyle, the creativity and the people in the industry. After 15 years of working in a lot of kitchens, I felt it was time to move on and expand my expertise.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Life’s a garden, just dig it!