WRITTEN BY Alejandra Saragoza
Alejandra is the managing editor of California.com. She's a California native based in the Bay Area and enjoys writing about all things food and travel related. Her work can also be seen in Diablo, T…See full bio
Kombucha has taken the health world by storm in recent years, making its way into grocery stores, convenience stores, and even restaurants. While this healthful beverage may be dismissed by some as another fleeting trend, kombucha has actually been around for centuries—since around 221 BC—and its resurgence in popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The health benefits of kombucha continue to attract consumers, especially in health-centric California.
The fermented drink, sometimes referred to as booch, is crafted using a base of sweetened tea cultured with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast); over time, the SCOBY transforms the tea into a tangy, naturally effervescent drink with billions of living probiotics to support gut health. The result is an improvement in overall well-being, with many people experiencing additional benefits such as healthier skin and hair, more energy, better sleep, and enhanced digestion.
George Thomas Dave believes the healing powers of kombucha are what helped his mother win her battle with breast cancer. Now known as GT Dave, the L.A. native and resident went on to start GT's Living Foods—the first kombucha beverage brand in the entire country and one of the best kombucha brands based in California—which specializes in raw, organic, handcrafted kombucha.
“My parents first brought kombucha into the household when I was 15 years old,” GT Dave recalls. “Initially, I was turned off by kombucha due to its unusual taste and smell, but I quickly changed my mind when I witnessed how much my parents loved it … To this day, it’s my belief that kombucha was part of my mom’s journey to recovery. From that point on, I had realized my true purpose: to share the gift of kombucha to help people live happier, healthier lives.”
You can find GT Dave’s kombucha at seemingly every store alongside other probiotic drinks like Oakland’s Olipop. From the superfood-rich Multi-Green and healing Gingerade to the refreshing Watermelon Wonder and tropical Golden Pineapple, there’s an array of offerings for every interest. But if you want to try your hand at crafting homemade kombucha, GT Dave has you covered. Here’s a simple guide to making kombucha at home, according to the “King of Kombucha.”
What you’ll need:
2. Once the tea cools, add the SCOBY to the glass jar, and pour the tea on top.
3. Seal the jar with a tight-weave breathable terry cloth and a rubber band. Leave your jar in a slightly warm (but not hot) part of the house with little direct light and no heavy moisture in the air, where no children or pets can reach it.
4. Over several weeks, the SCOBY will transform the tea by feeding on sugars and caffeine. During this time, it develops a natural effervescence, probiotic cultures, and a signature, tangy bite.
5. After fermentation, flavor the kombucha with fresh-pressed juices, herbs, or botanicals to your liking.
I'm plant-based and my diet is simple, consisting of protein smoothies and small meals throughout the day, so I don’t eat at restaurants that often. However, L.A. has a wide offering of plant-based and vegan eateries. For special occasions (or if I need to grab something quickly to/from work), I like to go to Café Gratitude, Craig’s, Gracias Madre, or Au Lac.
I make sure to break a sweat and meditate every day. Daily exercise ensures I'm healthy—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Typically, I work out at Equinox West Hollywood but more recently due to COVID restrictions, I’ve been swimming in my pool and working out at the company gym with trainer Nick Tipple. Whenever possible, I like to connect with nature and be outdoors, so I’ll hike Runyon Canyon, which is perfect for getting a bird's eye view of the city.
I was born in Los Angeles, and it’s the hometown of my company, so I feel deeply connected to California. I’ve continued to reside here, not only because I enjoy its diversity of people and places, but also because I believe it is very progressive. It has been a birthplace for many health and wellness advancements that I have a personal passion for.
I hope to help people think and feel differently about kombucha and fermented foods in general, ultimately guiding them on their health and wellness journey. I’ve noticed people become more curious about fermentation and the importance of gut health. But not all of them are ready for the bold flavor of kombucha.
For this reason, I launched AQUA KEFIR, a very easy-to-drink cultured beverage that could be their entryway to this incredible world of fermented foods. I’m always inspired by ancient wellness practices and have been drinking water kefir for a long time, so I’m excited to now share AQUA KEFIR for all to enjoy.