CommuniTea Kombucha - A Small Company with Big Ideas

CommuniTea Kombucha, as a company in Seattle, began in 2008. As a dream, it began in southeast Ohio, where I lived in a Quaker intentional community for 32 years. Through the sale of organic Christmas trees, we protected 1,260 acres of beautiful ravines and Appalachian hill land from strip-mining. We had big organic gardens and raised chickens and grass-fed beef. Even back in the 1970s, we understood the threat of global warming which is posed by our society’s unconscious use of fossil fuels. All our work was aimed at demonstrating new patterns for living in cooperation with the natural world. For example, we remodeled an old farmhouse with super insulation and solar hot-water heating, and built two new houses into the sides of hills, powered with solar panels and wind machines. 

When, in 1993, our oldest member developed a serious health problem, a nutritionist suggested that, as part of a comprehensive approach to restoring his health, we might try kombucha. We viewed kombucha as a gentle actor, an elixir that could help our bodies in basic ways, depending on our particular weak links. We saw in the kombucha a healthful beverage with a long history that could be useful in our contemporary world. 

I left Ohio in 2006 and moved to Seattle. Although I did not have a plan, I did have the seeds of one: I would continue to ask, “What does the future want?”  I also understood that “America speaks the language of business,” and that it could be effective to form a for-profit business that aimed to serve our community just as well as a not-for-profit business might, that is, it could also “enrich society and advance a public or community interest.” These seeds grew into CommuniTea Kombucha in Seattle.

Although making kombucha has neither the nobility nor the reach of preserving over 1,000 acres of our home planet, kombucha is a healthful and delightful beverage. We endeavor to make it healthful on multiple levels:  for individuals, our community, and the natural world

Healthful for individuals:  

My understanding is that the kombucha microbial culture has been cared for and passed down for several thousand years because people have valued its effects on their health.  We use green tea because we know it to be an especially rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols; the acidity of kombucha makes these beneficial compounds more absorbable. The flavor profile of green tea kombucha also helps keep residual sugar low. We are uncompromising as to the taste of our kombucha, and we have found a way to make the simplest, purest, unflavored, best-tasting (we think!) kombucha on the market, with residual sugar among the lowest.

Healthful for our community:

Engendering trust by providing accurate information is one of our my fundamental aims and an important way we can nourish our community. Our ingredient list is short, easy to understand, and of high-quality: organic biodynamic tea, organic sugar, filtered water and our SCOBY. In 2010, the kombucha world got a big surprise when it became clear that kombucha naturally produces a low level of alcohol (in the range of 1 to 3%). After months of trial and error, I decided it is not possible to make excellent kombucha without low levels of alcohol. Because it was important to me that our Seattle based kombucha be authentic, with no compromises, I chose to apply for an alcohol license, with all the attendant expenses and market limitations. Alcohol is a natural product of fermentation and an essential food for the bacteria, which use it to create much of what we find of value in kombucha. I believe that to try to limit the alcohol is to fundamentally change the nature of kombucha, and not for the better. 

We are Washington’s first and the on registered kombucha brewery in Seattle. Ours is not a kombucha-style beverage; it is authentic traditional kombucha. 

Healthful for the natural world:  

 

From the beginning, concern for our carbon footprint has been a prime concern; decisions in this regard have profoundly shaped the business. We have always washed and reused our bottles; we have elected to stay a local Seattle made company, and not truck our kombucha long distances; we put our fermentation room on the second floor so gravity, rather than pumps and motors, powers our bottling. We think about land stewardship when we evaluate our ingredients, so we not only use organic sugar, we source our tea from an organic, biodynamic farm.  We compost our used tea and old SCOBYs, and make many other smaller decisions on a daily basis that reflect our commitment to the health of the natural world. 

To learn more about our kombucha come visit us at our Seattle based brewery!