First came artisan coffees, then world-class wines, followed by the craft beer craze. Is kombucha poised to become northern Michigan’s next popular beverage du jour? Retailers say sales are booming, one local producer is established a foothold, and another second player is opening soon.
Kombucha is a fermented tea made by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast to a solution of tea, sugar and sometimes fruit juice or other flavors. It contains sugar, vitamins and antioxidants, as well as a trace of alcohol, a result of the fermentation process.
Bottled kombucha is stocked everywhere from health food stores to supermarkets. It’s sometimes referred to as “mushroom tea” because during the brewing process the bacteria and yeast grow into a mass that resembles a mushroom cap. The drink has a slight effervescence flavor and often has tiny remnants of the bacteria mix floating in it. That might not sound appealing, but it’s not much different than finding sediment in your glass of wine. Kombucha is also purported to have certain health benefits.
Nationally the beverage is flying off the shelves. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation report, kombucha sales increased 41 percent last year alone.
One local producer – Cultured Ferments – has been operating since 2015, when Courtney Lorenz began brewing up three five-gallon batches.
Lorenz’s volume has mushroomed to 23 50-gallon batches every week, with her varieties available at dozens of retail locations across the…
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