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Going ‘Bucha Bonkers with NOLA Kombucha Maker Alexis Korman

Long-time vegetarian and contributing editor to Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Alexis Korman is bonkers for ‘bucha. What’s ‘bucha? Short for Kombucha, it’s a fermented tea that’s this generation’s top avant-garde beverage. Alexis is co-owner of “Big Easy ‘Bucha,” a New Orleans-based Kombucha business, along with her fiancé, Austin Sherman, an experienced barman and cocktail expert.

Whether you’re already in the raw, vegan, or vegetarian communities or just Kombucha curious here’s Alexis’ take.

MPL: How did you get hooked on Kombucha?

We’re part of the yoga, vegan crowds and it’s been in our consciousness for over ten years. We brought the brand to NOLA this year.

MPL: What are the basics you always have on hand to make a batch that fits your brand?

Well for home kombucha makers, all you really need is a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), also known as a “mother,” starter fluid, filtered water, sugar and tea. That said, Kombucha brewing at home can be a tricky business. It sounds simple, but you have no idea how many people come up to us asking us what went wrong with a batch they tried to make at home.

MPL: What are the Fall trends in Kombucha?

I think commercial kombuchas, the ones like GTs and those you see on supermarket shelves, are trying to up the ante a bit with unique, almost cocktail-inspired combinations.

But in general I think that you’ll start to see more seasonal flavors take shape, especially as more artisanal kombucha makers take some of that market share.

MPL:  How does working in a  commercial kitchen change your maker lifestyle? 

We do 100% of the making ourselves. We would love to own our own kombucha brewery at some point! We’re not there yet, but we are a part of a commercial kitchen that operates like a co-op.

One of the most special things is that we serenade our tanks, which sounds crazy. But in my other life, when I’m not making kombucha, I’m an editor at wine enthusiast magazine. I once wrote a story about the positive effects that music had in the vineyard, and cellar room, on wine.

Actual studies have been done on this! So I thought, let’s try it. We play new orleans brass band and old timey jazz to our tanks and during bottling.

MPL: That’s so fun! How long does a batch jam out to jazz for?

It depends on the volume of the vessel! Typically, about two weeks We check on them all the time, the “mothers.” Change it up so they don’t get bored.

MPL: Ha! Now that’s an image: a pancake of bacteria asking for a music change. If “mothers” could talk, what do you think your mothers would say about how they’re treated?

I think they would say we respect the fact that they are a living entity. It’s amazing to see them change, and grow, and to consume raw ingredients and gift us with a healthy product.

We spend quite a bit of time with these mothers, so you know, we like to keep them happy.

MPL: What’s a big problem with the kombucha business? And how are you competing?

Being in small business is very rewarding but it is expensive. One way we are cutting down on waste, financial and literal, is by offering kegged kombucha, kombucha on tap.

MPL: Are you the only NOLA-made ‘bucha?

For those who “get” the kombucha maker lifestyle, I think they appreciate that we are taking a creative look at the category, and giving back to our community. We are, at least one that is available for sale anywhere.

There is no other one commercially available that’s made here in New Orleans that we can find or have ever heard of.

For more information about NOLA’s “first and only” small-batch Kombucha and how to get your hands on some, go to Big Easy ‘Bucha’s new website.

If you’re inspired to become a ‘bucha maker yourself, here’s a guide to making your own Kombucha mother. But if you’re feeling less adventurous, try one of these low-cost Kombucha starter kits which include the mother.

Interview By Jack Meyers

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