Vegetarians of Washington

Kombucha – the inside story

Kombucha is a rising star in the health-food world.  We reached out to GT Dave, founder of GT’s Living Foods, one of the first companies to bring Kombucha to the American market.  Here’s what he told us:

What is Kombucha?

Authentic Kombucha is an organic, raw, and naturally effervescent probiotic tea. The tea is fermented with a Kombucha culture, known as a SCOBY (which looks a lot like a giant mushroom). During fermentation, a variety of beneficial enzymes, probiotics, and organic acids are created. By nature, Kombucha is low in calories, 100% vegan, and dairy-free, making it a wonderful and healthy alternative to soda.

Where did it come from?

Kombucha originated in China in around 221 BC. It was a household remedy that villagers would use to stay strong and healthy. Kombucha later migrated to other countries, like Russia and Germany, until it arrived in the US in the early 1990’s. That’s when I fell in love with it and decided to bottle it for people to enjoy.

How popular is it in the United States?

Interestingly enough, less than 10% of American consumers are familiar with Kombucha. Those that know about it, however, drink it – and talk about it – almost religiously. That’s why it’s growing in popularity so rapidly.

What got you interested in Kombucha? What’s your story?

Kombucha came into my life when I was a teenager. My parents started making it at home and drinking it dally. At first, I didn’t truly understand the power of Kombucha. When I saw how it helped my mom with her breast cancer, that’s when I began to realize how special Kombucha is and why it needed to be shared with the world.

When did you found Millennium and what are your goals for your company?

I made my first bottle of Kombucha in February of 1995. My mission, at the time, was to make authentic Kombucha in its freshest, purest, and most potent form. I would bottle my batches by hand and deliver them to my local natural foods store. Today, over 22 years later, I have more help, but the way we make our batches remains the same – thoughtfully handcrafted and made with love. My goal for my company is to continue to handcraft authentic and raw living foods, like Kombucha, that improve people’s health and uplift their lives.

What’s on the horizon for Millennium, any new innovations?

We recently renamed the company GT’s Living Foods, putting our stake in the ground to say we stand for foods that support life, provide life, and make you feel more alive. As we innovate with that in mind, we’ve expanded our offerings beyond Kombucha with two lines of non-dairy living probiotic shots, CocoKefir and VeggieKefir, a line of sparking probiotic cider, Alive, and a line of dairy-free living coconut yogurt, CocoYo.