Exactly what “kombucha” is—and why they should drink it—may not be general knowledge for the majority of Chattanoogans, despite the probiotic tea’s increasing popularity nationwide. But Zach and Karen Atchley, the husband-and-wife team who founded Blue Indian Kombucha, are out to change that. Since 2012, when their midwife’s apprentice gave them a kombucha culture, the duo has admittedly been obsessed with creating the beverage, turning into a sort of health-food mad scientist team. These cultures, a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, or SCOBY, create kombucha by converting sweetened tea’s sugar into alcohol and their unique colonies of bacteria convert that alcohol into a collection of various acids. (Blue Indian Kombucha is non-alcoholic.)
“The impetus was rooted firmly in the wisdom of ancestral diets and in Chattanooga’s blossoming local food renaissance,” says Mr. Atchley. Their own home kitchen became the lab where they experimented with dozens of flavor combinations of what was first referenced in China during the Tsing Dynasty as the "Immortal Health Elixir." Using locally sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients, including some from their own home garden, they tried the results out on each other, friends, family and neighbors (“less than one in 10 works,” Ms. Atchley notes).
“We began informally selling kombucha out of our kitchen while we perfected our brewing techniques and flavors," Mr. Atchley says. "Every dollar we made was reinvested into our cottage industry. In July, 2014, after 18 months of research and development, Blue Indian Kombucha moved into a commercial kitchen and was officially born. We are a family business; our goal is to grow organically with our customers and to add a unique element to Chattanooga’s growing collection of craft brews.”
While continuing to sell the product both by the cup ($2 for an 8-oz. serving) and by the growler ($4 for the bottle; $16 for each 64-oz. fill-up) at the Brainerd and Main Street farmers’ markets, Blue Indian Kombucha is now available seven days a week at New Moon Gallery on the Northshore.
The natural customer base for kombucha is diverse, Mrs. Atchley says, including healthy eaters, foodies, people trying to drink less sugary soda, and kids. The couple’s own two daughters, ages 4 and 2, “would drink it all day long if we let them,” she smiles.
Pairing fruits and herbs is Blue Indian Kombucha’s signature. In addition to the flagship flavor, Blackberry Sage, current offerings include Strawberry Basil, Peach Basil, Strawberry Lime, and Blueberry Ginger, with others in development.
Mr. and Mrs. Atchley are using ingredients sourced from the Harvested Here Food Hub, as well as continuing to grow their own. The Atchleys believe their product is an ideal case of right place, right time. “Kombucha is widely revered as a source of probiotics and beneficial acids said to aid digestion, boost immunity, and enhance overall health,” says Mr. Atchley. “The human microbiome is just beginning to be illuminated by the light of scientific investigation. We can’t wait to see what’s discovered. In the meantime, we will continuously strive to craft the best-tasting, most innovative kombucha on the market.”
For more information call 227-3288, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/blueindiankombucha.