Kombucha is a living probiotic beverage made by fermenting black tea which communities have been brewing as a folk remedy for thousands of years. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can support your overall health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both “good” and “bad.” Probiotics are often referred as "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they can lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems. When you lose "good" bacteria in your body (like after you take antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
Buchi is our take on kombucha, and a cute nickname for the brew, don’t you think? It’s also a really cute nickname for our founders Sarah and Jeannine who are affectionately referred to as the “Buchi Mamas.”
We didn’t know this when we chose the name, but it turns out Buchi has a few other meanings around the world too. Here’s what we’ve learned so far from people who’ve emailed us and clicking on Instagram hashtags.
In Cuba, Buchi is a popular coffee drink that’s equal parts espresso and sugar and is taken like a shot.
In Japan, Buchi refers to a spotted cat. (citation needed)
In the Philippines, Buchi is a deep fried sesame seed ball made of glutinous rice flour and filled with sweetened mung bean.
Clark Buchi is also the name of a friendly and reputable plumber in Nashville -- if you’ve got leaky pipes.
If the word Buchi means something to you, we’d love to hear about it. Please email us at [email protected]
How is a small regional craft brewery different than a big national beer? Better ingredients, smaller batches, more creative flavors and made with love and intention. You don’t have to believe us, just taste it and see. ;)
Yes! Much of the benefit of drinking kombucha comes from the billions of living beneficial bacteria (probiotics) which are essential for good digestive health. Pasteurization is the heating of foods to kill microbes and bacteria. Many beers are pasteurized, and some kombucha brands are too which makes them cheaper to transport and store. Though it would make our distribution cheaper and our shelf life longer, pasteurized kombucha is not the real deal. We like it raw, and brew Buchi for others who feel the same way.
No. Kombucha got the nickname “mushroom tea” because of the pancake looking culture which forms across the surface of the brew during fermentation, however there aren’t actually any mushrooms in kombucha. It is something equally cool and strange called a SCOBY, an acronym which stands for a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. The bacteria and yeast work in harmony to turn the raw materials of tea and sugar into a wide and complex spectrum of beneficial nutrients. Technically SCOBY’s are a kind of biofilm called a zoogleal mat. If you wanna geek out on biofilms, check out this Wikipedia article.
Yes. Most mainstream media out there still touts there is no evidence kombucha is actually good for you. While it’s true not many studies have been funded in the United States on kombucha, much research has been done about about many of the individual components of the brew like probiotics, b vitamins, acetic acid and other raw nutrients found in the finished product after fermentation like niacin and folic acid. And other governments have done research too, like Russia and Germany. Check out this great article from Food Renegade on the Health Benefits of Kombucha.
Really the only answer is to listen to your body. Many people, most of our tribe included, drink 1 bottle a day and sometimes more. Regularity is key, but so is diversity. We recommended finding other probiotic rich living foods and beverages as well to get as many strains of probiotics in your gut as possible. You should be aware that if you eat a lot of processed or fast foods you may experience what we politely refer to as "a healing crisis" at first as the organic acids detoxify your digestive system, but this will quickly pass. Just make sure to drink plenty of water as well to flush your system. Members of our team have had up to 8 or 9 bottles in a day while working music festivals and can say the only negative effect we've felt is burping a lot, but that would be the case drinking that much of anything carbonated. Again, just tune into your body and see how it responds. Our bottles are all twist off twist on, so if you want to break down 1 bottle into 2 servings that's totally an option, especially as you are just starting with fermented foods.
No! Claims of kombucha being dangerous are blown out of proportion based on only a couple of isolated incidents. Like with any food preparation sanitation is important, but if you use common sense and are smart enough not to drink something that is obviously moldy then there is no real danger from drinking home brew kombucha, and even less from commercial brands who brew in certified kitchens with safety protocols in place. The kombucha culture turns the base tea into an acidic environment which makes it hard for harmful bacteria or common pathogens to take hold.
We do have a couple things in common. Maybe this venn diagram will help.
The idea our kombucha has “too much” sugar is one of the big obstacles between many people and drinking Buchi. While it’s true cutting back on sugar in your diet is a great idea, we feel the residual sugars left in our brew after fermentation are reasonable, especially when you consider that 16 grams of sugar in Buchi is equivalent to one apple or banana.
A few things it might help to know:
All kombucha has sugar in it -- it is the fuel source for fermentation. The only way to have a sugar free kombucha is to ferment all the sugars out which will make it more like a vinegar and then add a sugar alternative to restore the illusion of sweetness. We aren't into re-sweetening our brew with ingredients like stevia, sorbitol or xylitol as they are heavily processed. In all of our flavor experiments, we found that simple, whole ingredients the way nature intended are the best building blocks for a well-rounded and delicious kombucha. We use sustainably sourced, organic and GMO-free sugar cane, and much of that sugar gets metabolized during the fermentation bringing our brew to the perfect balance between sweet and tart.
The only other thing we could do is to use less sugar in the beginning which would result in a weaker, waterier finished product. Our signature flavor profile is a robust and well-rounded kombucha with bold flavors. Think of it like premium craft beer trying to get their calories as low as a lite beer -- it would lose what makes it awesome in the process.
For more information on sugar and kombucha, check out this great article from our friends over at Kombucha Kamp.
Good on you for paying attention and reading labels of the foods you eat! Unfortunately it’s not safe to assume nowadays that just because a product looks healthy it is healthy.
As you know, "Natural Flavors" seems to be a broad category under the FDA's definition. There are surely some companies who add "questionable" ingredients under that category which we would never choose to consume, feed to our families or put in our kombucha. MSG or aspartame derivatives are prime examples.
Rest assured we have thoroughly investigated the safety (source and process) and healthiness of all the ingredients we use--and we are very picky! The only Organic Natural Flavors we use as part of some of our recipes are all either tinctures, extracts or concentrates and are all:
- 100% Certified Organic
- Either Reverse Osmosis purified water or Certified Organic Alcohol or steam distilled only (sometimes under very high pressure)
- 0 chemical residue (since no chemical solvents are ever used for extracting flavors)
- 100% from natural (ie. real, actual) Certified Organic herbs, spices, berries, fruits, seeds, barks, etc.
We are fully committed to quality, authenticity and integrity in all areas, especially in our recipes and ingredients. We hold these values as a small company because we hold these values as the owners and families who work with Buchi. We are very sure of and proud of all the ingredients we use to create our drinks!
Seriously, thank you for asking. We hope this sheds some light on your very valid question. In order for our country's food system to become healthier we need consumers to demand transparency and accountability from all the companies who make their food and drinks. Thanks for doing your part!
There should be a date stamped in white ink right near the bar code, but sometimes it can be hard to see. This is a best by date, not an expiration date. Kombucha doesn’t spoil like milk or meat -- just gets continually more tart and the infused flavors get weaker over time. In terms of quality and safety it should be totally fine, and we wouldn't have any reservations about drinking it. Because we are a regionally produced product and ship generally ship out orders within a month of production, you’re unlikely to find an outdated bottle, unless you lost it in the back of your fridge. ;)
If you’ve been drinking kombucha long, you might have noticed it’s expensive! Our 12 oz bottles usually retail for $3.49-$3.99 depending on where you shop. We thought you deserved to know why. We've all thought while shopping for natural foods -- why is this stuff so overpriced? It wasn't until we became small artisan food producers that we realized how much work and cost goes into making many of these products and getting them to you, especially when they come from small local and regional companies.
Here's why our kombucha costs what it costs:
A) It's a premium product. We use organic, non gmo, local and sustainably sourced ingredients, including incredible medicinal herbs from some of our favorite companies. From the Numi Organic Tea we start with to the locally grown Gaia Herbs Echinacea and Sibu’s Wildcrafted Sea Buckthorn we layer in. Everything that goes into Buchi is top grade, and we hope you can taste the difference.
B) We're striving to be a triple bottom line company, which means when we make business decisions we factor in the wellbeing of the people in our tribe, our greater community and the environment equally to turning a profit.
C) It’s possible you’ve never owned a commercial brewery. We hadn't either. It’s expensive! We've had to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to produce over 1,500 gallons of kombucha a week. Think about how many bottles of kombucha we have to sell (even at $4) to do that, especially considering we pay freight to ship our product to distributors who mark up our product to retailers who then mark up our product to you.
Even with all that said, it's frustrating that the foods which are healthy are more expensive and harder to find while junk food is cheap and ubiquitous. If you're looking for more affordable kombucha, we do have a draft program and when you fill up on tap our product is around 40% less, bringing the price down to just over $2 per 12 oz serving. If that’s still too much, the best thing to do is brew your own -- it's really easy, affordable and fun!
There are also less expensive brands of kombucha on the shelf. Some of them pasteurize, many are mass produced, and some add probiotics after a short fermentation. We are proud of our product and our price reflects the hard work and extra effort we've put into crafting our kombucha.
Yes, you can -- and we are all about YOU homebrewing kombucha! It might seem counterintuitive for a commercial brewery to encourage their supporters to make the product they sell practically for free at home, but that’s not how we see it. Most people in our society need to be consuming far more fermented and probiotic foods than they currently are, and we can’t make kombucha for all of them. As big as the kombucha craze is, it’s still only the tip of the iceberg and the category is just going to keep getting bigger. The need is greater than our capacity or scope to produce, so there’s no reason to operate in scarcity. The more homebrewers there are, the more interest and conversation there will be around the kombucha culture forming right now in the United States. Plus, homebrewing is a great way to reclaim our food sovereignty -- by fermenting and producing our own food at home, we’re building a sustainable food system from the microbial level up.
We like to say kombucha is easy to brew, but hard to brew well. Like anything, it takes practice -- and we’ve definitely put our 10,000 hours into brewing to have the finished product we do now. But if you feel you and your family would benefit from daily consumption, buying single bottles of Buchi every day can get expensive (unless you live near a draft filling station) when homebrewing costs around 50 cents per gallon. So let’s get you brewing -- here’s a great and easy-to-follow tutorial from our friends at Kombucha Kamp that will make it so easy.
A few pro-tips to keep in mind:
- You can start a kombucha culture from any bottle of raw kombucha, you don’t need to buy one online. We recommend Buchi Unlimited as it has the least amount of juices and medicinals added in, but any of them should work. Just pour your Buchi into a glass or ceramic jar on your counter, cover with a paper towel or cheesecloth to keep the bugs out and leave it for 7-10 days until a new SCOBY forms.
- The longer it ferments, the less sweet it will get and the more tart. We find the best kombucha is the perfect balance between sweet and tart.
- Only brew in glass or high grade ceramic.The acids in kombucha an leach from plastic and other metals.
- When cleaning your brewing vessel, don’t use antibacterial soap. Vinegar works much better and won’t leave a residue which could hurt your culture!
We do! They are hidden inside every single bottle of Buchi on the shelf. :) Because Buchi is raw, it's still an active fermentation. Because of this you can pour a bottle (we'd recommend Unlimited because it has the fewest ingredients) into a glass jar on your counter, cover it with cheese cloth and leave it. After around a week, you'll have a Buchi Mama of your own! If you need any other kombucha brewing tips from there, check out our friends at KombuchaKamp. Have fun and let us know how it goes!
There are 2 main reasons we put Buchi in amber long neck bottles.
- The darker glass filters out the light and keeps the product fresher longer with a higher probiotic count.
- For thousands of years communities have brewed and enjoyed kombucha as a social beverage, and we seek to continue this tradition. In the United States, kombucha is commonly packaged and sold solely as a health food beverage with wide mouth medicine style bottles that would look out of place in a social setting. Our intention is to reintroduce kombucha at social events like music festivals, concert venues, craft beer bars, cafes and restaurants. This way Buchi is something which looks cool and tastes great, and also happens to be healthy and non-alcoholic.
Nope. Our kombucha falls under the .5% ABV set by regulatory agencies for what makes an alcoholic beverage. We even have our own alcohol testing equipment in house which lets us test each batch every week and then again before it leaves the brewery to make sure we are producing and shipping a non alcoholic product. That is of course until you mix liquor into it (which we recommend if you enjoy a good probiotic cocktail!) You can also try one at The Buchi Bar in downtown Asheville.
We think so! And we’re not alone, this idea is really starting to catch on especially on the west coast. Of course, drinking liquor isn’t the healthiest thing you can do for your body, but when you do occasionally want to celebrate with a cocktail here’s why mixing with kombucha is a good idea:
- The B Vitamins in kombucha can prevent and cure hangovers.
- The probiotics in Buchi aren’t killed by alcohol, in fact they naturally digest and consume alcohol and convert it into far healthier detoxifying acids. We like to say that kombucha takes the hit for your body and makes drinking much more “liver neutral.”
- Even if you’re not mixing liquor into kombucha, it’s a great alternative or addition to a night of beer drinking. Just remember: beer, beer, Buchi. You’ll thank us in the morning.
- Because kombucha is low in sugar and has a balance of sweet and tart, it’s actually a seriously tasty mixer. Click here for a mixology menu.
- Protip: Buchi Unlimited, Water and Fire all mix great with red wine!
We wish we could, but at this time we haven't worked out a sustainable way to ship. Despite our desire for everyone to have access to our kombucha, the carbon footprint of traditional shipping is something we can't abide. Eventually we'd like to find compostable shipping materials and insulation made out of biodegradable mycelium so we could ship to people privately all over the country, but we just aren't there yet.
In the mean time, we are growing quickly and already distribute into 18 states. Make sure to follow us on facebook to keep an eye on our expansion so you know when we make it out your way.
Totally, but only if you’re a local and can pick up equipment and kegs at the brewery. Buchi is an ideal option for weddings and other events with more health conscious crowds. It also makes a great mixer with liquor, wine, sake and champagne. Email us at [email protected] and tell us more about what you have in mind.
Great question, check out our Sustainability Page to learn more about how we express our values through our company and attempt to live into a triple bottom line business model. We are going to be communicating a lot more on this topic this year as it's core to our company, make sure to keep an eye on our blog!
We totally understand the desire to break out and build something of your own. Support for local, artisanal and nutritionally dense foods is building and opportunities abound for energetic entrepreneurs and visionaries. It's so cool that this is on your mind and we look forward to seeing your idea and company grow.
A big first step would be to check with the local food inspection departments in your area. That whole process is very location specific and everyone may have different rules so before you get going, find out the rules you're operating within. You should also check the TTB requirements for a kombucha business. It's not an easy business to get into now that there is awareness fermented beverages can go above the legal non-alcoholic beverage limit (.5%). The testing equipment is very costly and without it you can't be sure your kombucha is in compliance. You could also go the route of getting your alcohol license and then you won't have to worry about that equipment, but then you have a new set of challenges (and taxes).
As for brewing, the first thing I'd recommend is to find a community commercial kitchen in your area similar to Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Asheville where we moved after outgrowing Jeannine’s kitchen. It's a great transitional step to start a business without the huge capital required to buy all the brewery equipment. As for the actual production, what makes fermentation unique is how different each batch is. Scaling up all depends on what type of ingredients you use, the amount of sugar, and the environment/people it's brewed around ect. The jump to commercial is a big one, but like most challenges you just start slow and learn day by day with trial and error. We spent 6 years developing and our still refining our process. We share the basics on our site, but the proprietary details are part of what makes Buchi unique. Kombucha Brewers International, the newly established trade association for kombucha brewers is a great resource for help with getting started and scaling up. We hope this helps! We’re strong believers in a diverse and localized food system and wish you the best in your new venture.
What would you imagine as your ideal role within our company and community? To clarify, if you could design a job which showcased your highest potential and allowed you to express the fullness of yourself and your gifts, what would that look like and how would our community be uniquely benefited? The reason we ask is that while we aren't actively hiring, we are always on the lookout for magickal people whose potential is lightening about to strike. If you can share a bit more about yourself, what you're here on this earth to do and how you think Buchi will help you express that purpose, then we will have opened this conversation up to forces beyond ourselves and allow them to chart our course from here. You can email resumes and cover letters to [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you!