Kombucha, a fizzy cultured tea with deep roots in traditional Chinese medicine, has battled its image as a hippie home remedy found at health food stores. But the eye-catching rainbow of Champagne bottles at area farmers’ markets is changing kombucha’s image and has given new meaning to “breaking open the bubbly.” Pound Ridge-based Om Champagne Tea—kombucha tea in a variety of flavors, packaged in Champagne bottles—has aligned its taste with the times, using organic, nutritional ingredients such as fresh turmeric and ginger.
The tea is fermented with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY, whose glob-like presence is fed with sugar, resulting in a slightly sweet, nonalcoholic beverage with the hint of sour zing we’ve become familiar with as probiotic products go mainstream. James Hibler started brewing it for family and then selling it alongside his 9-year-old daughter’s jewelry stand at the Pound Ridge farmers’ market. He brews the tea in small batches in a commercial facility using purified water, organic black tea, and organic cane sugar; other than the classic variety, flavors include ginger, turmeric, and six-year Korean red ginseng. It’s more like soda than Champagne. But Hibler, who swears by its enzymes and vitamins, is “not trying to mimic or replace soda but to expand the palate with health-driven ingredients and rethink hydration beyond water.” The turmeric is especially delicious.
You’ll find Om Champagne Tea at farmers’ markets including Larchmont, Bronxville, Hastings, Irvington, Nyack, New York, and Park Slope, Brooklyn.