Have you jumped on the kombucha bandwagon, or are you still wondering what this whole craze is about? Kombucha is more than the latest trending drink. It’s a tangy, bubbly treat made with all-natural ingredients and packed with health benefits.
As the Pacific Northwest is known for being a bit more health-conscious and earth-friendly, it’s no surprise that some of the best kombuchas come from the area, particularly Oregon. There are some local brewers, as well as a few that distribute their kombucha across the country. Some of these are even found right in the heart of Bend.
Whether you are new to the game or simply looking for your next favorite brew, we are here to take a closer look at the world of kombucha.
The Fermented Tea – All About Kombucha
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is made by fermenting sweetened black or green tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), which may also be referred to as a mushroom or the “mother. The result is a slightly effervescent drink that has a tart and tangy flavor.
Many times, fruits and/or herbs may be added to the mixture to give the vinegary drink a sweeter flavor and boost its health benefits.
The kombucha found in the U.S. should not be confused with Japanese kombucha, which is altogether a different drink made with kombu kelp.
Why Drink Kombucha?
Because of the bacteria’s probiotic properties, kombucha offers some great health benefits, particularly when it comes to digestive health.
Probiotics are great for overall gut health as well as reducing bloating and promoting a healthy immune system. B vitamins are also found in kombucha, which helps with energy levels, metabolism, and may benefit your hair, skin, and nails.
For those who enjoy a sweet, bubbly soda, kombucha can be a great substitute. You can still enjoy the great flavor but with a fraction of the sugar content, added health benefits, and all-natural ingredients.
How Much Kombucha Can You Drink in a Day?
We all know that too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing, and the same is true for kombucha.
Most commercial bottles found in the supermarket contain 16 ounces, but looking closely at the recommended serving size, these bottles actually contain two servings.
While drinking 8 ounces at a time is safe for most, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you limit your servings to 4 ounces one to three times per day.
Does Kombucha Have Alcohol Content?
Part of the fermentation process results in the production of alcohol. However, the amount of alcohol present in kombucha (about 0.5% at most) is not enough to qualify it as an alcoholic drink.
Drinking standard kombucha found on the shelves at the supermarket won’t interfere with your senses in the same way alcoholic drinks do. Nevertheless, you should always check the label before drinking.
There are some options available that have a higher alcohol content that requires you to be over 21 to purchase. Some doctors may also recommend that pregnant women stay away from standard kombucha as well.
Does Kombucha Need to Be Refrigerated?
One of the key things to making the most of a kombucha brew is proper storage. This not only means the container itself but also the temperature it is kept at.
Just because it is fermented doesn’t mean it can stay out of the refrigerator. If the drink is truly made with a live, raw kombucha culture, it should remain refrigerated at all times. This will help to maintain its taste as well as the health benefits of probiotics.
How to Make Kombucha?
While kombucha can be readily found on supermarket shelves and there are more and more kombucha bars popping up around the country, there are those who are interested in saving money and making their own kombucha at home for regular consumption.
So, how do you go about obtaining a SCOBY and brewing your kombucha?
Start by researching SCOBY sources. You can find dried SCOBYs on sites like Amazon, but the quality isn’t the same as obtaining a fresh one. Many times, you can find someone who grows and sells SCOBYs at your local farmer’s market.
If you’re adventurous, you can even try making your own SCOBY, though it is a bit tricky.
You will then need to gather all of your supplies: a large glass jar (quart size at least), stirring utensil, tight-weave cloth or coffee filter, and something to create a secure seal on the lid.
Then you will need your ingredients, which include water, white sugar, tea, vinegar, and of course, your SCOBY.
Look for a reliable recipe online to find precise measurements and ratios to get you started. Once you have everything combined and you start brewing, you will leave it in a spot out of direct sunlight that will remain between 68 to 85 degrees.
Leave it alone to brew anywhere from 7 to 30 days. It’s all about your preferred taste; the longer you leave it, the more vinegary and less sweet it will taste.
Once the brewing process is finished, you can flavor it however you desire.
Oregon Kombucha Breweries
The bottled kombucha you can find in the supermarket is fantastic, but nothing is better than kombucha straight from the tap.
Kombucha breweries and bars are becoming more common as the drink grows in popularity, and there are several to be found in Oregon, in Bend and beyond.
Here you will find a list of some of the most popular in the area, but don’t let this list limit you. There are so many more to discover and enjoy.
Humm Kombucha from Bend
If you are a regular kombucha drinker, chances are you’ve probably picked up a Humm kombucha from Walmart at some point. What you may not have known is that this famous kombucha brand actually originated in Bend, Oregon.
The philosophy Humm lives by is that of peace, mutual respect, and equality, which can clearly be seen from their attention to detail both in the quality of their kombucha and in their packaging.
Their kombucha can be found across the country at your local supermarket, but if you want Humm kombucha straight from the source, be sure to visit their brewery and tap room in Bend.
Humm’s flavors usually consist of a fruit and herb or spice blend. You will find blueberry mint (one of their best sellers), pomegranate lemonade, ginger lemon, coconut lime, or even their new flavor pineapple turmeric. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Caboost Kombucha from Bend
What started as the simple pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, starting with tea and growing to kombucha brewing, made way for the creation of Caboost, a kombucha brewery found in Bend, Oregon.
Though their kombucha blends can’t be found in supermarkets across the country like Humm, you can find them in your local grocery store if you live in the Oregon and Washington areas.
If you live right in Bend, you can even enjoy a growler (or twelve) delivered right to your door through Uber Eats. You can also find their brew at some of the local eateries and establishments like Bad Wolf and Sparrow bakeries, Chow, and Dudley’s Bookstore.
Caboost features some of the most unique flavors found amongst kombucha blends. If you get a chance, you will definitely want to try their seasonal favorite Summer Thyme Peach. You may also want to try one of their Caboostails, kombucha cocktails made with some of their famous kombucha flavors.
Brew Dr. Kombucha from Portland
Moving outside of Bend, Brew Dr. from Portland is another famous kombucha brewer whose products can be found in supermarkets across the country.
Ever heard of Townshend’s Tea Company? Well, that’s where Brew Dr. Kombucha started. It began as a casual teahouse where they started using their teas to make kombucha in house. Their brews became so popular, they decided to bottle them up.
Brew Dr. is available on tap across the country. You can find them at training centers for professional sports and major universities as well as corporate office in cities like New, York, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and of course, Portland.
Many of their flavors are named for the feelings they evoke or the benefits they produce, like Love, Clear Mind, Happiness, and Uplift. All of their teas are made with the highest quality ingredients to create a refreshing, authentic kombucha.
Happy Mountain Kombucha from Portland
Also from Portland, Happy Mountain Kombucha captures the spirit of adventure in each of their kombucha brews, achieving that perfect balance between sour and sweet.
Happy Mountain has focused all of their attention to detail and quality into 6 special flavors. Every batch starts with hand blended tea that combines white peony, herbs, flowers, spices, and extracts. No fillers are use, nothing that will dilute the taste and health benefits their kombucha has to offer.
Their kombucha can be found on tap at several establishments from southern Oregon all the way up to Vancouver. Be sure to check them out at Kebaba in Bend, Hop & Brew in Sisters, Urban Coffee House in Seattle, and more.