Kombucha keeps growing in popularity, it can now be found at nearly every grocery store. An estimated 14 per cent of U.S. consumers have tried kombucha in 2016, and just a few years later it is now a billion dollar industry. However, it’s still not commonly known what exactly the drink is, or how it is made.

The history behind this drink dates as far back as 221 BC in China. The name kombucha is not recorded until 415 AD —  when a Korean doctor named Kombu treated the Emperor of Japan with fermented “cha”, which means tea.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that can be flavoured through adding additional ingredients. It starts with sweet tea, sugar, green or black tea, and a scoby —all are added together before fermentation begins.

Kombucha has increased in its popularity but many still do not know what kombucha is or what happens behind the scenes. Video produced by Mackenzie Hermann and Hailey Payne.

Victoria Lundgard — who co-owns Happy Belly Kombucha with her husband, Chas Lundgard — defines scoby as a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

“It’s basically where the microbes on kombucha live and you need it to inoculate a fresh batch of tea to turn it into kombucha,” says Lundgard.

While the tea ferments, the flavouring ingredients are added to create different flavours and can include a variety of herbs, flowers and fruits, as well as other ingredients.

It’s not just the taste that has contributed to its rapidly increasing popularity though, many believe kombucha has a variety of health benefits.

Lundgard believes kombucha is “very good for gut health, and helps with digestion and detox.”

The health benefits commonly associated with kombucha are believed to come through its fermentation process, due to the addition of healthy bacteria during that stage. Therefore, the fermentation process is an important aspect of not only making kombucha’s unique flavour, but its health benefits as well.

Lundgard says that most brew kombucha between five to 10 days, but at Happy Belly Kombucha, the beverage is brewed for just over a month.

“We started this business as a passion and it’s important to us that what we produce yields the best tasting kombucha and the most health benefits,” Lundgard says.

Rose petalsRose Petals are just one of the unique ingredients Happy Belly Kombucha use in their kombucha, on November 21, 2018. Photo by Hailey Payne.

Her husband, Chas Lundgard, also speaks about their excitement and dedication.

“Both me and my wife were always big into health nutrition and just loved the taste of kombucha on draft at first and then [the business] just stemmed from a love and passion for kombucha,” he says.

He enjoys creating flavours and thinking of new original ideas within their business. Because of this and their different experimentation processes Happy Belly Kombucha has many unique flavours to offer consumers.

“We carry so many different flavours because everybody has different taste buds out there and one person’s favorite flavour would be another persons not so favorite so, we try to have so many flavours to appease all the kombucha drinkers out there,” says Chas Lundgard.

Victoria Lundgard remembers the creation of one of their latest seasonal flavours; strawberry rhubarb, which can currently be found in store.

“It was actually this summertime that we were having strawberry rhubarb pie freshly baked and the kids said, ‘Can we turn this into kombucha?’ and we thought ‘why not?’ So, the experimentation started, and it tastes delicious,” she says.

The couple credits mother nature and its bounty of flavours and resources as their influence in creating their kombucha flavours.

Victoria and Chas Lundgard both enjoy the work of running their own company together.

“It is an amazing feeling to get to work with my husband everyday and every night, weekday and weekend,” Victoria Lundgard says.

“Getting to grow with my husband is amazing.”

Editor: Rayane Sabbagh | rsabbagh@cjournal.ca

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