An Ode To Kombucha, An Alcoholic's Only Healthy Habit. But Why Does It Cost So Much?

Illustration for article titled An Ode To Kombucha, An Alcoholic's Only Healthy Habit. But Why Does It Cost So Much?

Birthdays are a convenient chance to reflect how one's identity has manifested itself in one's habits, and until the start of my twenty-eighth year my habits were numerous and universally awful. Kombucha changed that. Kombucha, a bacteria rich fermented tea beverage, is for the type of person who thought, upon taking her first sip of alcohol, "This tastes awesome!" Ever buy a six pack of O'Douls, just because it just seems so strange and foreign to have food without the accompaniment of beer? Kombucha is for you. I'm not sure what the science is, but to my mind a 16-ounce bottle of Kombucha works sort of like those oils you're supposed to rub on your face to make it less oily: in other words, it doesn't make sense if you don't have a hangover and if you don't have a hangover you probably don't need it.


But here's the catch with Kombucha: you have to buy it at Whole Foods, and Whole Foods, despite having a lovably crazy CEO, is the leading force aiming to brainwash you into thinking you can make up for a half century of national excess consumption by consuming shit. And it is fucking expensive, never less than $3 a can and sometimes more than $5. Why?

I read a lot of stories about the issue that basically explained that making Kombucha, because it has to be fermented and the cultures are like highly-prized and some of them date back to the Truman administration something and it's hard to get it right, is kind of labor-intensive. It's also perishable. But still, the beverage industry is one of America's highest-margin industries; someone has to be making a killing on this shit! So I called Trader Joe's, which is how to figure out how much a certain hipscale trendhumping natural food item should cost, and they don't carry it. At an independent food store I called, the clerk informed me that the wholesale cost of Synergy-branded Kombucha tea was about three bucks, and they made very little selling it, and the Synergy website doesn't make it appear that the company tolerates middlemen distribution companies milking huge profits, so it falls to G.T. Dave, the Coke of the Kombucha industry, which was founded by some vaguely smarmy Beverly Hills cancer survivor's son. Anyway, so that guy is getting my money, and Lindsay Lohan's money, and pretty soon every alcoholic you know's money. Now you know!



DO NOT DO IT!! There are so many cases of people dying from their home-brewed Kombucha. It's so ful of bacteria, and in case you don't have an autoclave to sterilize the instruments you use to handle the Kombucha, there's a good chance you could poison yourself. There is also a simbiotic relationship between Kombucha and a certain strain of mold- they grow together throughout the fermentation process. The mold is not harmful, per se, but if you home-brew your Kombucha, you can't eliminate the mold from your brew. Over time, if you drink your own Kombucha daily, the mold builds up in your system and causes an allergic reaction that has killed a few people in reasonably good health. Seriously, this shit almost killed my grandparents.

If you want the drink so badly, pay to have the bottled stuff, because chances are major bottlers are the only ones who can produce such a beverage safely.