Kombucha, a fermented beverage with a long lineage in Asia, has become popular again in recent years thanks to promised health benefits. Mamachari Kombucha, Salt Lake’s only local kombucha, quickly built a fanbase at the Downtown Farmers Market, which led to restaurants carrying the bottles and making delicious cocktails with the brew.A quote from Mamachari's website sums up its healthfulness: “Kombucha contains acetic acid (a mild antibacterial), gluconic acid (a mild detoxifier), lactic acid, malic acid (what gives kombucha that slightly sour taste), amino acids, and various probiotic strains. This organic acids are essential in keeping your body balanced and in good health.” Basically, it keeps your guts clean: Mamachari Kombucha’s tag line “Poop like a champ” says it all.
I grew fond of the drinks over the summer, picking up a few bottles with my weekly CSA from Urban Farm & Feed. Jasmine rose, Concord grape and lemon ginger are some of the tantalizing flavors I’ve come to love. I’d pour the fizziness into a glass with vodka, a perfect combination for day drinking, sitting on the porch with a good book or puttering away in the kitchen. And, now, Mamachari has a tap room, so fans of the drinks and their benefits can have their fill of it—even a growler full.
The tap room is a bit hard to find. Pull into the Club X parking lot, and look for a black door with 455 over it. But, once I walked into to the tap room, I fell more in love with Salt Lake City’s food scene—we have our own kombucha brewer! The tap room was tidy, organized and accented with cheerful orange. An overhead chalkboard menu explains the different ways to enjoy the flavors of kombucha. A growler will set you back $20—the glass container is $5, and refills are $15. Single-serving bottles are $3 a pop.
Mamachari Kombucha is lovingly brewed by Christy Jensen, using only organic ingredients. She showed me around the tap room, filled with all sorts of brewing equipment and large containers of kombucha covered with colorful fabric. Kombucha starts as a sugary tea, and then is fermented. As I carefully opened a large barrel, the smell of jasmine and rose made my mouth water. I saw my first SCOBY (an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast); It was fascinating. It looked like a waxy grey seal formed over the brewing kombucha.
Where did the Mamachari name come from? Jensen is passionate about sustainability. The word “mamachari” is the Japanese word for bicycles outfitted with baskets and seats for kids over the wheels—sorta like a station wagon bike—and deliveries around Salt Lake City are made via bicycle, drastically cutting down on pollutants and oil/gas consumption. Since August, Mamachari Kombucha has diverted 300 pounds of glass and 311 pounds of mixed recycling from the landfill, according to its latest report from Momentum Recycling.