Ogden's Sunnte kombucha makes a strange brew easy to swallow

Wednesday , May 17, 2017 - 5:00 AM

Christina Huerta, Standard-Examiner correspondent

Like coffee, tea can be consumed in a variety of ways. Some people like black tea, some like green tea and some like their tea fermented — better known as kombucha.

Ogden resident Josh Smith was introduced to the fermented drink by a friend. He liked it so much he began brewing it himself.

“I just went on Amazon and just found everything kombucha-related and I bought it,” Smith said. “Then I just read blogs and read about different techniques.”

Smith teamed up with fellow kombucha lover Blake Fluhart, and the duo put a tap into their brew and started selling it locally, labeled as Sunnte. The company name is homage to their Norwegian roots, “Sunn” meaning “healthy” in Norwegian and “te” meaning “tea.”

“I have about four or five years of home-brewing experience and just kind of playing with what I like,” Smith said. 

Tea, sugar, and water fermented with an active bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY (an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) are the main ingredients of kombucha. The combination forms a gelatinous layer of yeast, the idea being that it seals in the healthy bacteria and keeps harmful bacteria out.

After 10 days, the concoction creates a naturally fizzy, cider-vinegar-flavored drink believed to have digestive and immune system benefits similar to yogurt.

“Kombucha lives in a pH level where bacteria can’t form,” Smith said. “So, it’s basically like vinegar, it’s a nonperishable.”

They implement a process of secondary fermentation in which the liquid is transferred into a keg for an additional 10 days, which creates more natural carbonation.

The origin of kombucha remains widely unknown, but it can be traced back to early 19th century China, Europe and Russia.

“I think what differentiates us is that we do produce small batches in 7-gallon fermenter tanks,” Sunnte business manager Jared Rawling said.

PH levels are tested in regular intervals to ensure that each batch is fermenting correctly. By producing smaller batches, there is less waste, Smith said.

“I like the quality assurance it gives you, and control,” Smith said. “I feel as though it gives a better taste.”

Current flavors include black tea, green tea, yerba mate, and a honey and green tea combination called Jun.

Customers can fill their own containers or buy a reusable 64-ounce glass growler or 16-ounce glass bottle.

“We want to be responsible about what we’re selling and we want it to be sustainable,” Rawlings said.

The tea is on tap at Grounds for Coffee in Ogden and Riverdale, and Good Earth Natural Foods in Riverdale.

“It tastes fresher than the ones in the bottles,” Grounds for Coffee bartista Rachel Van Leer said. “You can just tell that they do a really good brew for it.”

Sunnte will soon be operating out of a new location in the Business Depot in Ogden — or you can catch Fluhart handing samples out around Ogden from his “kombucha mobile.”

“Just drink it and see how it makes you feel,” Smith said.

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