Becca Schepps, Mortal Kombucha, Boulder, CO, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first started drinking kombucha when I lived in NYC in 2008. They carried it at the corner bodega and I was looking for low sugar, flavorful alternatives. I think my first kombucha was actually a GTs with Chia Seeds. It reminded me of that Orbitz drink made by Clearly Canadian that had balls of gelatin suspended in juice. As a kid I was in awe of those bottles and loved the idea of chewing and drinking simultaneously.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Mortal Kombucha began as a place to pour my creative energy. I wanted to make something super healthy that had a wry sense of humor and was ridiculously approachable. Mortal is the culmination of the things I believe in: Healthy doesn’t have to be serious, flavor makes life interesting, bubbles make everything better and don’t eat too much sugar, but a little bit is a-okay (i’m type 1 diabetic – so I take that last one pretty seriously).

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I love that seasonal flavor that Health-Ade makes for the holidays. It’s like drinking Christmas with a bunch of ginger on top.

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

My other life is working as a Creative Director in the advertising industry.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

I’m currently following this motto: “Make stuff. Eat fruits. Cry a little. Be a rainbow.”

Heidi Vorrasi, RocBucha, Rochester, NY, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I discovered kombucha while travelling to the West Coast. We were in a small town in Utah and it was on tap even in the gas station! We drank it on and off for years after that and started to brew once we were settled and wanted to experiment with more flavors.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

After home-brewing, we ran out and tried some of the local kombucha. I was unimpressed with what was available at the time (but now there are many good local ‘booch options), and thought I could do better. I wanted my community to experience good, local kombucha. It should be delicious!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I’m a big fan of buying local, and my favorite other kombucha to drink is Laxshmi by fellow local brew mistress, Catt at Happy Gut Sanctuary.

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

While I was a former non-profit executive, my favorite time over the past 10+ years has been spent raising my three awesome kids together with my husband, John.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Although my kids roll their eyes when I say it (and my dad cheers): The difficult we do today, the impossible we do tomorrow. Today’s challenges are building blocks for what we can only imagine to accomplish in the future.

 

 

Gabrielle Pope, Claire Rivard, Dominic Rivard, Solas Kombucha, New Ross, NS, Canada

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I (Gabrielle) was first introduced to kombucha in Vancouver around 2001, and played the role of the weird fermentation girl until this day.

Dominic and I (as his marketing manager) were attending a hard cider conference in Chicago. We purchased some kombucha to give our bodies a break from endless cider sampling. Dominic was amazed, and hooked.

I was thrilled to give Clare her first SCOBY, despite the horror her daughters experienced when they saw it. Clare quickly became a very talented and enthusiast brewer.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Clare and Dominic were the ones who had Herculean drive to turn a restored barn into a stunning brewery that we wasted no time filling up with equipment and start brewing. I was desperately looking for a more creative and fulfilling career, was still obsessed with kombucha, and jumped on as partner immediately. I guess in some ways we all just thought, we have experience from all over, we love kombucha, we could realistically do this, we are all creative, and wouldn’t that be awesome?

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I doubt our palates can agree.

Gabrielle: RISE’s Rose & Schizandra (fellow Canadians too!)
Dominic: Health-Ade’s Blood Orange, Carrot, and Ginger
Clare: Seven Acres Strawberry Vanilla (our super local friends!)

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

Dominic: International Winemaker and Consultant, Fruit Wine and Cider Owner
Gabrielle: Writer, Managing/Marketing Cideries, Produce Manager, Perpetual Student
Clare: Insurance Broker

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

We couldn’t agree because we are vehemently opposed to being cheesy. 

Clare: Luck is great, but most of life is hard work. – Iain Duncan Smith
Gabrielle: “Confidence is 10 percent hard work and 90 percent delusion.” – Tina Fey
Dominic: Just Do It – Nike

 

Rich Awn, MOMBUCHA, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

My mom! She started brewing in our home in New Jersey some time in the late 90’s and forced it on my siblings and I. We hated it. Then she got better at brewing and we realized we weren’t getting sick as much as we used to. Kombucha went from being this thing we would do anything to avoid to something we’d do anything to get our hands on!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I started Mombucha as an art project in 2009. I’d been brewing on my own since 2005 and became increasingly more obsessed with it over the years, geeking out on tea blends and trying out different kinds of sugars. A friend asked if I’d like to participate in a local event called “The Greenpoint Food Market” in November of 2009 and it was there Mombucha held its public debut. The name is derived from “mom’s Kombucha” after the brew my mother had introduced to our family. From 2009-2013 I was brewing out of my Brooklyn apartment mostly for friends, tinkering with different flavors, and working on the brand more as a hobby than a business. At one point, I was brewing so much that I’d converted the entire kitchen into a “fermentorium” by dropping shower curtains all around it and jamming all the closets with brewing supplies and full bottles for conditioning. Mombucha has always been a passionate demonstration of what I think a yummy, authentic Kombucha should be. It wasn’t until May of 2013 that I found a space (outside my apartment) suitable for brewing and had the courage to focus solely on developing Mombucha full time. Having a limited customer base, it was necessary to figure out a way to be resourceful to cover the high costs of operating in New York City which is how Magick City came about. Magick City is the certified shared kitchen and community arts venue where Mombucha is brewed. We share our kitchen with 13+ food startups including caterers, beverage makers, confectioners, bakers, and food scientists, all of us sharing resources, inspiration, and incidental mentorship. Our “tasting room” has become well known as a place to catch an intimate gathering around food, music, art, dance, meditation, and film.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

There’s a place in Berkley, CA called “The Cultured Pickle Shop” where some really experienced fermenters are churning out some of the liveliest, most delicious flavors of Kombucha I’ve ever tried. Their beet and fennel flavors were the inspiration for my Gingerbeet and Gingerfennel brews.

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

I think I’ve worked pretty much every job imaginable: school custodian, movie theater concessions, grounds keeper, dishwasher, audio engineer, stand-up comedian, chairlift operator, receptionist, data entry, art handler, fashion photography production coordinator, landscaper, waiter, bartender, line cook, pizza dough flipper, restaurant owner, real estate agent, advertising account executive, and finally “professional Kombucha brewer.” As disparate as all these jobs are, they each uniquely contributed something to the role I’m playing now.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Do what thou wilt.

 

 

Jaime Carral, La Semilla Colectivo, Mexico

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Around the year 2000 at a fermentation workshop. Love at first sip! Have been brewing with the same SCOBY since then.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

To be able to share more widely what I found to be a powerful ally in our quest for health and well-being.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Ginger Turmeric . . . Brew Dr.

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

Formerly a Permaculture designer and contractor, currently teaching courses on health, nutrition & ferments. Health = Microbiome Symbiotic Re-connection.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (May All Beings in All Worlds Be Happy)

Aneta Lundquist and Eric Lundquist, 221BC Kombucha, Sarasota, FL, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I discovered kombucha 11 years ago at a tiny (4 people including instructor) fermentation class held by a tiny lady who was sharing her story of how fermented foods saved her life. At first I was a bit skeptical. It was later, when I discovered the world of microbes that her story gained a significance in my eyes.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I felt obligated to share my knowledge about an unseen world of microbes with all people. I wanted to bring to them awareness of microbes and important symbiosis between them and us, the host. Life is about constant striving for balance.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I enjoy almost every traditionally brewed kombucha available on the market but, recently we have launched 221B.C. CORE, >.5% of alcohol. I really enjoy Yerba Power Green from CORE line. Not only it is the greenest kombucha ever (green is my favorite color) but also it is simply delish. This is by far my favorite flavor, now!

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

Well, I am a lot of things these days. First of all, I am a mom, a wife and entrepreneur. Trying to balance all those aspects of my life feels almost like a new career.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

I absolutely love: “Balance from within TM”. Also “Walk your talk” is one of my favorites. I am all about integrity and balance.

Julian Lesser and Philippe Trinh, Seek North, Kingston, NY, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Julian and I (Philippe) discovered it about 12 years ago in a NYC beverage cooler at a boutique grocer. At the time, we didn’t really know what it was, and we thought it tasted so foul that we actually tried to return it. We were later told by the manager that the “off” taste was an “inherent taste of the elixir”. It ended up in the recycling bin with almost its full content intact. At that time, it certainly wasn’t like it was now with all the flavor profiles and artisan brand varieties.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Julian and I always dreamed of creating a product that was inspired by our love for the combination of our lives in rural Hudson Valley and bustling New York City. But we’ve also had a commitment to health and well being. Our commitment took on a whole new meaning in 2016, when Julian was diagnosed with neurological Lyme disease. It’s commonly misdiagnosed, and debilitating. It stunningly affects about 300,000 people each year. In our desperation, we researched things like crazy, and found that about 70-80% of our immune tissue lies within our digestive tract. Due to my experimentally driven nature, I actually had been dabbling into kombucha making for quite some time prior to Julian’s diagnosis. I thought I could do it better, and it was a really interesting outlet for me.

But it wasn’t until Julian fell ill, and we researched gut health, that I really dove into it. I just wanted to make everyone better, especially Julian. I wanted it to be great tasting, too, so even people that were turned off by kombucha (including Julian at that time), would drink my home brewed kombucha and love it. After a while, I started experimenting with super-herbs like ginger, elder flower, and lavender for flavor complexity, and the rumored benefits to them. I do feel our focus on healthy lifestyle choices, especially those affecting the gut, were, at least in part, a contributor to Julian’s road to recovery. In 2018 our brand, Seek North, was picked up by luxury grocer, Dean & Deluca throughout NYC. We wanted to do something different. Drink by drink, we wanted to promote awareness and change.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

We just picked up some kombucha during our last trip to Barcelona from a brand called Kombucha LAB. It was called ‘Grandma’s Elixir’, flavored with only honey and herbs. It was so exciting to see other kombucha brands in European countries. In our previous travels, it was so hard to find overseas.

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

I am a menswear designer day and Julian is a Digital Marketing Specialist at our digital agency, Northernseekers.com. We’re both super creative and entrepreneurial, so kombucha gave a great outlet for us to continue being creative, but to help spread a message. A portion of all of our kombucha sales will be donated to local non-profit organizations focusing on Lyme disease advocacy, education and research. Read more about our story at www.seeknorth.com

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“Live Your Journey”. Life is a journey, and one that should be lived to its fullest, healthiest extent. We want to help others be inspired by this. We wanted people to take this journey with us, and spread awareness simply by them picking up one of our bottles.

 

 

Amanda Webb, Wild Magnolia Kombucha, Fairhope, AL, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I came home for the holidays in 2008 and may have had a little too much celebrating so, I went to the local health food store
looking for some assistance. The clerk said, “have you tried kombucha?” I left with a bottle of GT Trilogy kombucha (they only had one flavor),
and fell in love with the unique taste and how it made me feel!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

There was a point where I knew I was at a crossroads, and I was in search of fulfillment in my life. I found so much enjoyment in sharing my
love for “weird foods or my funky drink (as my friends called it)” with people in my circle, so I decided to take that love into my local community.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Health-Ade Jalapeño-Kiwi-Cucumber

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

Currently, a wrangler of teenagers (aka mom). Formerly, a bored administrative assistant.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“Have the courage to live a life true to yourself”

 

Adam Gallegos and Sonia Pak Gallegos, Revel, Ojai, CA, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

On a white water rafting trip in Oregon back in the early 2000’s. It was strange but I found myself craving it.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I had graduated from the American Brewers Guild and was working for a craft beer brewery with the intention of starting my own. We moved to a small town in Southern California called Ojai and spent months looking for a space suitable for a brewery. During that time I found myself drinking less beer and more jun. I felt great and was becoming more active with surfing, mountain biking and yoga. I lost weight, and problems I had with acid reflux completely went away. I started waking up in the morning full of energy. I wanted to share how great I felt with other people of all ages. It felt like a way to practice the art of brewing while improving people’s lives. We found a relatively small space in the center of downtown Ojai and decided to open up a jun brewery and tasting room similar to what we had imagined for a craft brewery.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Bootleg Bucha – Citra Hop

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

Owned a real estate brokerage

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Focus on what you have and not what you don’t have.

Mark Frydrychowski, Tea of Life Kombucha, Ibiza, Spain

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

We were doing downhill skateboard races along the west coast in 2009 and stopped by my favorite diner in Olympia, WA. My friend said, “Hey man, they have kombucha,” and I said, “What?”

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I got obsessed very quickly and started doing weekly batches. I was avoiding alcohol and doing a lot of studying (law school) and I wanted an endless supply of this magic stuff that was giving me energy and helping me focus. When I moved to Ibiza in 2013, I reckoned I’d either start a skate school or sell kombucha. The kombucha took off quite nicely!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Back in the US I’d always opt for GT Dave’s Gingerade (Classic). It always had the right amount of bite and smoothness, bubbly mouthfeel and uplifting/refreshing finish. I thought of it as a true standard and have generally tried to mimic many of its characteristics.

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

Music has always been important. Over the years I’ve had many jobs as a guitarist. Now that’s (mostly) finished, but I’ve still got amps and a keyboard and loads of guitars. My musical life now consists primarily of jamming with my three-year-old daughter.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Life benefits the risk-taker.