Chad Huniu, Fermensch Kombucha, Huntington Beach, CA, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered kombucha in Eugene, Oregon where I went to college. My first taste of booch was actually some homemade jun a friend had brought to a house party. However, I don’t think I quite understood the concept of fermentation, let alone booch, until I took a hands-on organic farming course where my teacher led us in a sauerkraut making workshop and someone brought to a class potluck the first (and spiciest) kimchi I ever had. After that, it was on. I’d caught the fermentation bug.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

To make a kombucha that tastes as good as it is for you. It KILLS me when someone dismisses kombucha as “too funky” or “too sour” or “too weird.” I like the funk, but I understand that this can often be a roadblock for people in making healthier or better decisions of what to eat or drink. I really want to help change the American diet and food system–even if just in my community–by doing my small part as a kombucha brewer.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Oooo. I’ve got many! The Pickle Shop in Berkeley made an incredible celery booch, and Pilot Kombucha’s Celery Juniper is likewise delish. Soma’s Fennel Pear is amazing, as is Idaho Kombucha’s What The Huckleberry.

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

I used to be a line cook at a vegan restaurant called Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, which is also where I honed my fermentation skills. To be honest, I loved being a cook. I kind of miss being on my feet all day, the heat of the kitchen, the rush and adrenaline, using a knife like it was a part of my hand, the amazing people and personalities, the 90s hip hop bangers we’d put on during clean up. I do not miss the fryer. But I miss everything else. It’s a good thing Seabirds Kitchen is now one of Fermensch’s best customers!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Be excellent to each other.