Human bodies need a healthy population of “good” microorganisms to maintain optimum wellness. These helpful microbes occur naturally in the body, and a well-balanced diet is typically all that’s needed to support a robust microbiome. However, some choose to supplement with probiotics.
Science has yet to decipher the degree to which probiotics improve health, but many who supplement report improved digestion, better immune function, and reduced inflammation. Probiotics are available in capsule form, which is a simple method of supplementing (if a bit boring). Other sources of beneficial bacteria are fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. A more refreshing and effervescent way of inviting some good bacteria into your microbiome is drinking a fermented tea called kombucha.
Many cultures have imbibed kombucha for its purported health benefits for millennia, and it has experienced a boom in the U.S. in recent years. Morgantown has a local source of the beverage. The Neighborhood Kombuchery at 119 Pleasant St. has been producing kombucha since 2019.
One of the co-founders, Dr. Andrew Rhodes, competed in the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition earlier that year and won a grant to launch the Kombuchery. The COVID-19 pandemic surfaced soon after, but the business plan was nimble enough to pivot to a more lockdown-friendly model. Instead of selling their product on tap to bars and restaurants, they began to distribute kombucha in cans for enjoyment in private homes. The cans stuck around, and are now found at retailers in West Virginia and as far afield as Pittsburgh and Maryland.
The Kombuchery’s blend consists of Japanese Sencha Green Tea and Darjeeling Black tea from India mixed with sugar and a culture of bacteria and yeast. To tempt the modern palette, it is flavored with spices, herbs, and fruits to achieve heady combinations like strawberry basil, cucumber lime mint, and blueberry lavender. After fermentation — voila! — a tart, fizzy beverage rich in microbes and antioxidants. Kombucha might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those that find it beneficial will appreciate a local, high-quality source.
EVA MURPHY is a freelance business writer for The Dominion Post. She writes a column on businesses, churches and other entities in the city. To suggestion a topic, email her at Newsroom@DominionPost.com.