Many years ago, upon seeing my first SCOBY, the gloopy, vaguely fetus-like culture of yeast and bacteria required for home kombucha-making, I was instantly turned off from the probiotic beverage. With kombucha gone mainstream — exhibit A: National Kombucha Day is January 15 — I reluctantly agreed to try the alcoholic versions made by Flying Embers, an Ojai-based producer that emerged from the ashes of the Thomas Fire.
They currently produce six flavors, including Ginger & Oak, Pineapple Chili, and Grapefruit Thyme, each enhanced by an “adaptogen root blend” of ginger, astragalus, turmeric, and ashwagandha and canned in clean, slick packaging. Despite my fears that they’d be sour, chunky messes, every single one of them was enjoyably clean, crisp, and flavorful in balanced ways, with herbs or spice or wood expertly offsetting the background fruit. I even occasionally opted for them rather than an afternoon beer, as the experience left my body feeling refreshed rather than dulled.
Which is to say, happy Kombucha Day!