The Austin Kombucha Beat
Four commercial brewers to watch
Always on the forefront of weird meets wonderful, Austin is home to a thriving kombucha community. Here are four local commercial brewers to watch.
With founder Kimberly Lanski at the helm, Buddha's Brew bottles are currently available in more than 160 locations throughout Austin and several other cities. Of the local brews, these seven signature flavors and two seasonal options served in mason jars (currently, Strawberry and Tart Cherry Melon) are the most gentle and likely to convert skeptics. The sweet fruit juice dramatically cuts the sour, but leaves the beautiful kombucha tang intact. My favorite regular flavors are Ginger and Cranberry, and the Tart Cherry Melon is delightful.
The creatively crafted ingredient combinations in all 13 of the Kosmic Kombucha flavors added to a signature blend of oolong and green teas make this line of kombucha exciting to drink. When bubbly meets nutrient-dense and flavorful, we have a winner. It's like picking favorites among friends, but currently my favorites are Texas Blues (organic kombucha, organic blueberries, lime, basil, and agave), Ms. Pink (organic kombucha, guava, mango, papaya, and local honey), and Salty Dog (organic kombucha, grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange, organic ginger, sea salt, and agave). These fresh and fizzy drinks are available in a variety of sizes at various locations across Austin.
Wunderpilz translated from German means "miracle mushroom." This company's brews are noticeably more crisp than its local counterparts, but therein lies some of the appeal for many regular kombucha drinkers. Inspired by Li Ching-Yuen's secret to long life – "keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon, sleep like a dog" – the four flavors are: Heart, Energy, Strength, and Calm. The fair trade, organic teas and herbs used in these concoctions are thoughtfully designed to fulfill each specific purpose. Both effective and intensely delicious, Wunder-Pilz ingredients include such beauties as mugwort, fresh-pressed ginger, dandelion root, and cardamom. Available on tap, or prefilled in their unique bottles, at several shops throughout Austin, including Hyde Park Market (affectionately known as the Flag Store) on Duval Street.
Live Soda Kombucha
Released in fall of 2012, Live Soda aims to incorporate the appeal of soda pop with the health benefits of kombucha tea in four flavors: Culture Cola, Dr. Better, Revive Rootbeer, and Living Limon. The result is a fizzy collection of raw, organic beverages containing less than half the sugar of regular sodas. Refreshing bubbles and a well-balanced bite create a potentially effective gateway for those seeking to curb cola cravings; Live Soda also poses as a stand-in for bartenders' go-to mixers. Made convenient at a slew of retailers, including H-E-B, Live Soda offers a delicious replacement for less-healthy drinks. Michael Bloomberg would be so proud.