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Kombucha Crazy

January 11, 2019

Maybe I’m late to the kombucha game, but I’ve just recently been bitten by the bug. The word doesn’t quite roll of the tongue. I still feel a little silly saying it. But I have to admit that I love kombucha. And like all things I love, I’m a little obsessed with it right now.

Which isn’t to say I have a deep love for all kombucha, because like everything else that gets popular in America, there are a lot of terrible bastardizations that pop up to capitalize on a trend. And I’m still in the infancy of my kombucha journey, so there is still a lot that I do not know.

What I do know, and what I want to tell you, is how this whole new passion was started. And the kombucha that pushed me over the edge from being okay with the beverage to being an evangelist.

Right now, there is really only one kombucha that I love, and that’s the stuff made by Yesfolk Tonics over in Troy.

Had it not been from my friend VG, I probably would have avoided kombucha entirely. The idea of a fermented tea, made with a floating colony of bacteria and yeast, just never sounded entirely appealing. I saw pictures online of what those living organisms look like as they do their thing in the production process, and had no desire to put that in my body.

But I am always curious, and VG pointed me towards a very approachable and easy to find kombucha. GT’s Organic Kombucha™ Gingerade® is available at Trader Joe’s, so I bought a bottle of it, and thought it was a perfectly tasty soft drink. I enjoyed it’s natural effervescence, it’s restrained sweetness, and the refreshing ginger flavor.

However, I could not quite wrap my head around why I would want to pay $3 a bottle for a soft drink, even an organic one with beneficial probiotics.

Then I met Adam from Yesfolk Tonics at an Official Yelp Event at The Cheese Traveler, and now I’m happy to pay more for less.

Their approach to kombucha is different. At its heart, kombucha is a tea based drink. Whereas the popular mass market brands are taking a tea base and adding all kinds of flavors, Yesfolk Tonics is focused on making the tea the star of the show.

And as such, instead of introducing flavors, each of the Yesfolk Tonics brews is based on a different varietal of tea. So far I’ve tried the oolong, jasmine, black, and something called yaupon that is apparently related to yerba mate, and they are all amazing. The differences between them are profound, and I find myself waiting eagerly to see what the Yesfolk crew will be brewing up next.

What I love more than anything else are the aromatic complexities, and the taste experience of each one of these oak barrel fermented teas. Maybe there are health benefits to drinking the stuff, but I don’t care. It’s delicious. And as such, I don’t mind paying a premium over the GT’s for the stuff. Especially since as I’ve been exploring more and more kombucha brands, I haven’t come across anything I enjoy nearly as much.

Seriously, it’s not even close.

Plus, now that I’m on this crazy diet, I’ve given up high calorie beer, wine, and spirits until I reach my weight goal. So I’m excited to still have something to sip on in the evening that delights the senses and engages the mind.

Where do you all stand on kombucha? I’ve encountered some people who can’t stand the funk of the stuff, and others who love it. If you do love it, I’m still in my learning phase, so I’m always open to hearing recommendations. Feel free to share. Cheers!

By the way, I posted a review on Yelp that includes some of the above thoughts, but it also has photos from the production facility in Troy. If you’re curious, the link is here.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2019 12:06 pm

    If you can find it near you, definitely try OM Champagne Tea [] They’re at some of the farmer’s markets down in Westchester and its a great splurge item

  2. January 11, 2019 12:08 pm

    I fell in love with kombucha in San Diego, they have a million places dedicated to the drink and I must have tried them all. It was difficult to find low or no sugar varieties, which I preferred. I was also told the ones bottled in the grocery store didn’t have the same health benefits – haven’t done personal research on that though. Always appreciate a tasty probiotic glad to hear of this place in the capital region, will give it a try next time I’m back!

  3. Elyse permalink
    January 11, 2019 12:18 pm

    Yes!! I love kombucha and I’ve started making it myself recently (seriously, if I can do it, anyone can). When I lived in Albany, my favorite brand was Katalyst Kombucha (made in Western Mass). Wish I could try Yesfolk tonic’s brew.

  4. January 11, 2019 12:21 pm

    Next time you are in DC, I homebrew some pretty good kombucha.

  5. Ryan H permalink
    January 11, 2019 1:28 pm

    All I know about it is that until *very* recently I somehow thought it was made from squash…. mixing up kabocha vs kombucha…

  6. albanylandlord permalink
    January 11, 2019 4:56 pm

    I love Kombucha, and it definitely has a positive effect on my digestive system. My favorite is the AquaVitae line from Vermont. Specifically the Original or Ginger – not a fan of the sweeter ones. (though I have had a few not-as-good bottles from them lately).

    I do not like GT at all, much too effervescent for me. And I find their sweetness puzzling as they list a very low sugar content. They have been in legal trouble before about this, but after adjusting their sugar content on their labels my taste buds still say this it doesn’t match the product.
    I will definitely try out the YesFolks. Where can I buy it (other than presumbaly at The CHeese Traveler)?

    • albanylandlord permalink
      January 11, 2019 4:59 pm

      To answer my own question: They have a listing on their website of where they are. Most are bars, interestingly enough (CIty Beer Hall, Delaware Supply), but they are at Honest Weight and Westmere Beverage in Albany area.

  7. Lakesider permalink
    January 11, 2019 5:53 pm

    I attended a course on fermentation which Adam gave at the Saratoga Springs library, fell in love with their Oolong kombucha then. Nothing else comes close.


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