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Kombucha Brews Customer Appeal…

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Restaurants are serving the fermented tea served on tap and in cocktails and desserts

Bret Thorn | May 04, 2017

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been gaining popularity for the past couple of decades among the health-food crowd.

Today, the beverage is showing more signs of crossing into the mainstream, as consumers are drawn to its probiotic content and promises of well-being, and restaurant operators see it as an on-trend beverage to serve alongside nitro coffee and cold-pressed juices.

“It seems to us as a no-brainer,” said Nick Porpiglia, general manager of Norman, a casual New Nordic restaurant that recently opened in A/D/O, a new design space in the trendy Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood of Greenpoint, where he said even local bodegas carry kombucha. “We’re seeing it more and more in restaurants,” he added.

Kombucha is made by adding sweetener, usually sugar, to brewed tea, along with scoby, an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.” Kombucha from a previous batch is also typically added to the new one.

Similar to mother of vinegar, scoby catalyzes the fermenting process, in which yeast converts sugar to alcohol and bacteria converts alcohol to acid, resulting in a tart, lightly carbonated drink that’s generally low in alcohol — most producers keep it at less than 0.5 percent so it remains classified as non-alcoholic.