Nobody’s really sure who brewed up the first batch of kombucha; it may even have been a happy accident, but it was a long time ago. It was as early as the third century BCE, during China’s Qin Dynasty. It was discovered that tea, sugar and specific strains of yeast and bacteria came together in a potent symbiosis, forming a rubbery cellulose film as bacteria feast on the sugar and produce a plethora of healthy acids, vitamins and microbes that are great for digestion, immunity, and circulation.
Sage Nason-Regan spent countless hours doing research for the local company HowGood, reading ingredient lists, researching farming practices and animal husbandry rules. “One of my biggest takeaways was the lack of transparency in our food system,” he says.”There are over 250 ingredients that fall under the “natural flavors” umbrella that do not need to be disclosed according to FDA regulations, including certain animal derived ingredients such as Castoreum or Musk.”
So when he decided to become a kombucha maker, complete transparency was Job One. “At Kimmunity Kombucha we want people to know exactly what they are drinking, and will never use any ingredients that rely on “natural flavors”, he says. “Instead, we’re using fresh juice, concentrates, and reductions. Our first product, Golden Child, a collaboration with Immuneschein Ginger Elixir, uses a black tea with a blend of ginger, lemon, honey and turmeric.”
Sounds tasty—and Nason-Regan assures us that it is. If you think you’re not a kombucha fan, give the Kimmunity kind a try and you might be amazed. “I personally don’t think that kombucha should be just for people with adventurous taste buds,” he says. “Many people have come to associate kombucha with a heavy vinegar taste and aroma, combined with lots of juice—that’s the mass production that the big companies use to meet production deadlines.
“The genuine brewing process involves fermenting the tea with sugar, along with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), and a starter culture. This takes time, but it allows for the sugar to be consumed by all of the microorganisms present, and create a flavor profile that is a pure byproduct of that fermentation.
“Larger scale kombucha brewers are shortening or foregoing that initial fermentation period entirely, opting to essentially brew tea with varying levels of sweetness, and then cut it with a pre-made kombucha that is highly acidic. This method allows mass production, but sacrifices flavor; this vinegary flavor profile has become synonymous with kombucha, and turned a lot of people away. But sour does not necessarily equate to more health benefits. A little bit goes a long way.”
Nason-Regan’s collaboration with ImmuneSchein is the beginning of what he hopes will be many cooperative efforts with his fellow makers, and being a member of Hudson Valley Current is a perfect fit for the business. He first heard of the currency when asked if he’d come photograph an event at Tilda’s. “The opportunity sounded like a great experience, so I would have done it regardless, but upon learning about the Current and how it worked, I was hooked,” he says.
“The values of community building, networking, and alternative means for exchange of goods and services that work beyond the bounds of traditional monetary exchange spoke to me. I get a tremendous amount of joy in knowing that something I’ve worked so hard to create is being appreciated by people that understand the value of the work that Chris and the Current team are doing, and are actively immersed in supporting the local community.
“With so much of consumerism being tied to mass production and corporate entities, the value of local support from a tight-knit community cannot be understated. I’m extremely proud to be part of a network that sees the power in their purchasing choices, and chooses to support at a local level, helping small businesses grow.”
Tried a mass market kombucha without loving it? Stop in at Tilda’s (630 Broadway) and try a bottle of Golden Child. Your body will love you for it.