Chattanooga kombucha brewers focus on health
Kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea, isn't a new product. Its origins are believed to date back about 2,000 years to the Qin Dynasty in ancient China. But in modern day, the tea has surged in popularity, especially among people seeking more wellness-focused lives.
Kombucha, like other fermented products such as yogurt and sauerkraut, is said to be good for your gut health. The probiotic quality of the tea supports the body's digestive process by promoting the bacteria cultures within the stomach. For this reason, kombucha has found success among people wanting to give their digestive systems an extra boost. While commercial kombucha has made the drink more accessible, many store-bought varieties have a higher sugar content than kombucha made at home.
Now two local brewers want to bring kombucha back to its healthful roots — without comprising flavor.
Chattanooga Culture: Brewing Booch and Creating Community
Matt Cone, a current resident of Cleveland, Tennessee, was born and raised in Georgia before moving to Colorado where he learned from a friend how to brew kombucha. Cone has been brewing for five years now, and with his new company, Chattanooga Culture, he's bringing his love of kombucha, healthy living and community to the masses.
"[The goal of Chattanooga Culture] is to create a tribe around health and wellness," Cone says.
Cone's kombucha differs from other available options in that he tends to flavor the tea before fermenting it. He also adds additional ingredients into the starting tea blend that provide additional wellness benefits.
"I'll add in other herbs and supplemental aspects in the tea brew itself," Cone says, "and then I'll ferment all of that together so it really has a cohesive health benefit for the person."
Cone offers several types of kombucha each with its own purported health benefits. For example, one brew has cacao and ginseng for energy and brain support, while another has elderberry and rose hips for immune support.
"I think a lot of kombucha companies are focusing on flavor and just making it palatable for people so that it can reach a larger market, which is great," Cone says, "but for me, personally, I want to be able to provide the most potent, medicinal-grade kombucha, basically."
Cone has big plans for Chattanooga Culture, but for now, he's focusing on producing bottles, kegs and kegerators (modified mini fridges that work like a beer tap) to sell both individually and wholesale. Follow Chattanooga Culture's development on its website, chattanoogaculture.com, or on social media, @chattanoogaculture.
Chattanooga Kombucha: Brewing Booch Beer-Style
Daniel Reading's mother brewed kombucha in the 2000s, but it wasn't until he worked at a brewery himself that he developed a love for it. After getting married six years ago, Reading began brewing kombucha as a healthier alternative to beer. In 2021, he started Chattanooga Kombucha to bring his own spin on fermented tea to the Chattanooga area.
What makes Reading's kombucha different from other available options is that he adds spore probiotics and monk fruit to his brew. The spore probiotic withstands stomach acid, which allows it to move deeper into the digestive system to support gut health. The monk fruit keeps the overall sugar content of the kombucha low while maintaining a good flavor profile.
"The kombucha that I have since developed has kind of been focused on the health-minded, health-conscious person," Reading says. "But also I'm trying not to sacrifice my flavor where it might seem like there is no flavor, or the flavor is compromised because of [the health-minded focus]."
Influenced by his beer brewing experience, Reading uses a barrel aging process for some of his kombucha brews, such as his whiskey sour and sangria flavors. Additionally, like beer companies, Reading uses seasonal ingredients such as berries in the summer and apples in the fall to provide a rotating slate of flavors. Reading says he's always experimenting with ingredients to create new and interesting flavors for his kombucha.
"I just like coming up with new things for people to try," Reading says. "I mean ... part of the love that I have for brewing is just trying new things."
Currently, Reading's kombucha is available on tap at Common Table on Broad Street and Gaining Ground Grocery on Union Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood. Reading also sells his kombucha at local markets from his company-branded wagon which features eight taps that he uses to fill cups and growlers for his customers.
Like Cone, Reading has big plans for his company and its place in Chattanooga, including a potential rebrand in the near future. Follow Chattanooga Kombucha's progress on its website, chattanoogakombucha.com, or on social media, @chattkombucha on Instagram and Chattanooga Kombucha on Facebook.Chattanooga Culture: Brewing Booch and Creating CommunityChattanooga Kombucha: Brewing Booch Beer-Style