Kombucha is a 2,000 year old drink the Chinese dubbed the “Immortal Health Elixir,” for claims of its energizing and detoxifying properties.

Expanding trade routes brought kombucha to Europe, and it got big in France and North Africa in the 1950s. The Swiss were promoting its health benefits in the 60s. And now, a local operation is making it here in our province: St. John’s Fermentary.

Kombucha is basically fermented green or black tea, and the fermentation accounts for the drink’s sharp or cider-like refreshing profile. The fermentation also adds a slight carbonation, which some companies amplify with additional carbonation.

Sondra Nurse is the woman behind St. John’s Fermentary, and her kombucha uses only organic ingredients, and does not add CO2.

Some larger brands will add CO2 because their filtering or preserving processes have halted the natural fermentation and effervescence,” she explains. “Being small and local allows TSJF to keep the product completely natural – it’s exactly what you’d find on my kitchen counter.”

Sondra started her business as a spin-off from a dayjob. “I’ve worked at The Natural Heath Shop on Stavanger Drive for six years and have been studying holistic health, both formally and on my own, the entire time.”

She says gut health is a major part of the discussions around holistic health, and fermented foods promote gut health.

Gut health is definitely a big part of the kombucha craze. Like proper yogurt, Kombucha contains probiotics, so it promotes the wealth of “good bacteria” that help us better absorb and digest water, vitamins, minerals, and food stuff in general. A healthy gut has also been linked to other benefits, like improved moods and stress levels, and better weight management.

Other health claims are that kombucha lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and defends against cancer, diabetes, and even ageing.

Sondra considers kombucha to be a great way to kick a soda habit to the curb. That alone would improve anyone’s health.

“I’ve found that most people are initially attracted to kombucha as a way to kick a soda pop addiction. It has a natural fizziness and endless flavour possibilities. The beneficial probiotics, enzymes, and bioavailable nutrients that kombucha and other ferments offer is totally an added bonus.”

In the realm of fermented goods, she says she’s hoping to offer more than kombucha to her customers soon, “but for now, kombucha is a trendy, and delicious beverage and a great way to introduce people to ferments … like kefir, sauerkrauts, kimchis, and wild yeast sourdough starter.”

She also currently offers workshops that teach people to ferment at home.  Check out their Facebook page for more details there.

Better yet, grab a bottle and see what all the buzz is about. Their kombucha is better than any shipped-in brands offered in the province, and it’s currently available at places like The Natural Health Shop, Simply for Life, Food for Thought, and The Grounds Cafe at Murray’s Garden Centre, “with more exciting locations to come,” she adds.

We will be at the new St. John’s Farmers Market too,” she says. “We also have six new locally inspired flavours on the way!”