About Us

History | Kombucha FAQ

House Kombucha is a family-run, community business dedicated to bringing the ancient tradition of fermenting living, probiotic teas into modern light. Founded by Rana Lehmer-Chang in 2009, we've become an integral part of the San Francisco Bay Area’s thriving food economy. Read our Founder's Story!

Beyond just making a great tasting and healthy beverage, we are a young, owner-operated, social enterprise. We value quality craftsmanship, health and safety, local economic development, and environmental stewardship. We distribute our kombucha in bottles and kegs through a growing network of coops, neighborhood cafes, offices, popular grocery outlets, and natural food stores. See our new Store Directory!

Our management and brew teams are all locally-based, and involved in a number of faith, social justice, and environmental organizations. We frequently sponsor local events and donate 5% of our kombucha to local organizations serving youth and the community. Request a donation here!

History: Our Founder's Story
[In her words, circa 2009]

Hi,
 
I'm Rana, the owner, operator and founder of House Kombucha. Here's a little history on how this company came to be.
 
thirsty and broke.
 
I started this company during the summer of 2009.  I was a new law graduate and had passed the bar (what a breeze!) but the economy was so SLOW, I had to make my own kombucha.  I remembered my mom making it when I was growing up and she survived on her homebrewed kombucha, so I figured I could too.
 
It turned out the kombucha liked me as much as I liked it! So I said eff lawyering (oops!).  I had no money to start a business but I believed this: if I put as much work into creating my own job as I did asking others to give me one, I ought to get somewhere.
 
I started a sustainable kombucha business in the now defunct Metreon Farmers Market October 2009 with my true friend Asad Modarai, a couple buckets, a sleeve of paper cups, a folding table and a dry erase board.
 
not looking to brand and bottle the kombucha.
 
My vision was to sell kombucha by the refillable growler to customers and kegs to restaurants, bars and cafes.  I wanted my kombucha to be enjoyed by the glass, not the bottle.  I saw kombucha as a social beverage, complex and refined, not just a healthy a sports drink.  I wanted the best hotels and eateries of San Francisco to have an in-house kombucha on tap.  I was not interested in branding my business.  I had a negative connotation w/ bottled beverages and all the marketing and garbage they produce.  I didn't want to waste time w/ all  of that.  I just wanted to make the best kombucha ever and have other people like it so much they would want to put their own name on it and call it their house kombucha.  Hence the name House Kombucha!
 
learning a lot.
 
It turned out my original vision made no business sense.  People like to-go bottles.  They prefer to have it in a 16oz. glass bottle even if the bottle costs up to $1 more.  At that time, most hotels and restaurants had no idea what kombucha was and did not want to find out.  I realized that bottling the beverage would be the only way to succeed.
 
the perfect bottle.
 
As an environmentalist I vowed to re-use my glass bottles, all of them.  I needed the perfect bottle and I found it.
 

 

It's called the WOBO, short for the World Bottle.  It was envisioned by Alfred Heineken in 1963 after he went on vacation to the Caribbean and was saddened to see the beach littered with his beer bottles.  He had no intention of polluting the earth with his business and wanted to encourage another use for the bottles, building houses!  The WOBO is designed to fit together like bricks and its perfect for House Kombucha.  What better way to bring back the old fashion bottle re-use than with an iconic brick bottle?
 
Mr. Heineken was ahead of his time with the concept and only a few bottles were ever made.  We will have to re-make the bottle since Heineken is not giving out their original design.  Nonetheless the idea is strong in our company.  One day when we have these brick bottles and we're the prize of SF, I dream one of the Heart of San Francisco sculptures will be made out of our glass bottles.  Hence, the logo!

 


on my own.

 
The Metreon farmer's market shut down after I was only vending for 1 month! I was left w/ a boiler-room fermentation enterprise (click for video from our earliest days), some encouraging fans and no way to sell besides an occasional underground market or street food event.
 
So I held my breath and bought $500 worth of glass bottles.  This was a huge investment at that time because city permit's and farmer's market rent had wiped me dry.  Reliant on the MUNI bus and City CarShare, I set forth selling cases of 16oz bottles to cafes and grocery stores.
 
 
thank you.
 
One year of hard hustling labor later and I had built a state of the art fermentation facility and successfully employed 3 talented San Franciscans who were previously jobless.  
 
Every day, House Kombucha continues to enjoy the unsurpassable distinction of being the best kombucha in this world class region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
 
When I look at my lovely factory I feel so proud and thankful. 
 
I will always owe my brilliant workers, forbearing parents, and enthusiastic customers for helping this happen.  And if you haven't noticed ;), I totally believe in the power of divine assistance (Yes, we PRAY for the fermenting kombucha so that it stays healthy and may make YOU healthy too).  I give my whole thanks to the Lord on High for all the opportunities that make up LIFE.
 

 

Make my prayer, O my Lord,
 a fountain of living waters whereby I may live
as long as Thy sovereignty endureth,
and may make mention of Thee in every world of Thy worlds.
 - Baha'u'llah
 
 

 
the fountain of Ridvan, Haifa Israel


Kombucha FAQ

Kombucha is an ancient and special way of enjoying tea.  For thousands of years, kombucha has been revered as a healing tonic that combines the wonderful benefits of tea with the magic of fermentation to create a fizzy, sweet and sour beverage.  Worldwide, people brew and drink kombucha for the way it make them feel, alive and replenished.  House Kombucha is brewed in the traditional way, steeping delicious tea until it is nice and strong, then hiding it away in a quiet dark room to ferment. Our high quality herbs and teas and fine tuned attention to time and conditions is what gives House Kombucha its distinctive, exquisite taste. For more on our tea and process, check out our video!

What about caffeine?
 
House Kombucha contains approximately less than one-third as much caffeine as its equivalent amount of tea.  The process of fermentation alters the caffeine molecule making a beverage that, for many people, is more soothing and grounding than caffeinated.  Because we use either green, black or white tea in our brews, each one has a different caffeine concentration.  Also some our brews are mainly herbal, which cuts down the caffeine level as well.  For context Black tea brewed is 47mg per 8oz and Green tea brewed is 29 mg per 8oz. Brewed coffee is 155 mg  and decaffeinated coffee is still 5-12 mg of caffeine per 8oz.  So House Kombucha is about the level of decaffeinated coffee.  (Source: https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/ingredients-of-concern/caffeine-chart)

Our independent tests have shown the following results for House Kombucha:
  • Citrus Hibiscus 12.93 mg per 8 oz. serving (Assam Black tea and hibiscus flowers)
  • Ginger Fire and Ginger Ice 7.66 mg per 8 oz. serving ( Imperial Green tea and chili peppers or dried peppermint)
  • Lavender Lemonade  3.7 mg per 8 oz. serving
  • Rose Black: 19 mg per 8 oz. serving (Assam Black tea)
  • Sun Blossom: 5.6 mg per 8 oz. serving (White tea)
  • Vanilla Sarsaparilla 12.93 mg per 8 oz. serving (Assam Black tea and Chicory Root)
How much should I drink?
 
While some traditional healers suggest that a 4 ounce serving of kombucha daily is sufficient to have a positive probiotic effect, there is no recommended serving size.

Is it Non-GMO, Organic Vegan, and Made in an Allergen-Free facillity?

YES!

Do I need to refrigerate it?

YES, but don't worry about it spoiling on your drive home from the grocery store.  It's alive but it's not going to spoil like milk.  The main concerns about leaving it out at room temperature is continued fermentation and flavor alteration.  The pH of the kombucha keeps it naturally preserved from spoilage.  We are filtering out yeast to prevent over-fizzing and flavor alteration, but we are new to this process so if you get an over fizzy bottle let us know!  We value all product quality feedback and concerns!  In the meantime put it in the fridge as soon as you can for best quality.

Are there Mushrooms in this? Do you use a SCOBY? EXPLAIN!

Ok so, kombucha is also known as mushroom tea because of the gooey awesome layer that grows on-top of a batch of kombucha.  This layer can develop super thick and globular layers.  Some people are making kombucha leather and other cool things from this material.  It is basically a cellulose mat that is both the by-product and the substrate in which yeast and bacteria to grow, kind of like a coral reef for bacteria.  Back in the 1990's moms were giving these mushrooms to each other and teaching each other to make "mushroom tea".  That's how I learned about kombucha, from my mom and her wacky Thai immigrant friends!  

This mushroom is not really a mushroom at all.  It is commonly called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.  Home brewers tend to get a little over fascinated by SCOBY.  I eventually learned that the SCOBY is not necessary for brewing because the yeast and bacteria are abundant in the kombucha beverage itself.  We use an aged vat of kombucha as our Starter and do not intentionally save or grow SCOBY.  We strain it out and compost it.  No, we don't sell it and we probably can't save it for you.  Since we don't have a ton of space and capacity to get into a SCOBY venture this stuff goes straight into the compost.

I am avoiding yeast!  And sugar! And need to alkalize my body!  Can I drink Kombucha?

Candida fighting diet

Kombucha cultures consist of beneficial yeasts, which ought to rebalance the system and help fight pathogenic yeast like Candida.

Alkalizing diet

Kombucha is considered alkalizing because it is like a raw vinegar.  The acid profile of kombucha is mainly from aceterbacter, the same bacteria that is used to make mother of vinegar.  In fact, kombucha vinegar is what happens if you don't bottle your kombucha and just let it continue to ferment.  While processed vinegars are acid forming, raw vinegar has an alkalizing effect.  So does raw lemon juice which we use in some of our brews.  Ultimately the House Kombucha flavor profile strives to be mild and not too acidic, so it should be easy on your system.  However, everyone's body is different and it is important to pay attention to what you put in your body and how it makes you feel.

Sugar-free diet

As for sugar, the sugar content is far lower than soda and juice, but there is some sugar!  These sugars are mainly pre-digested by the SCOBY into a low-glycemic form. 

Is this alcohol?

House Kombucha is considered a non-alcohol beverage because the alcohol levels are kept below the .5% legal limit.  Whether you are in recovery,  breastfeeding, pregnant or have a religious aversion to alcohol, understand that there is a trace of alcohol in it.  Personally, I drank kombucha through both pregnancies and am a member of a religion that forbids alcohol consumption. It is my interpretation of my body and faith that kombucha is a healthy choice for me.  Others may be more sensitive and cautious, especially those recovering from alcohol addiction or suffer a real allergy to alcohol, and so I want to be clear that a trace amount of alcohol is in all kombuchas pretty much regardless of brand.

How long do you ferment?

We use a long ferment continuous style brew starter that is well aged and and use this starter to do a shorter fermentation tailored to the needs of each flavor.  

Can I get a keg at my party or event?

Possibly, if the time and location work for us.  There may be a charge for delivery, rental equipment and set-up, sometimes ordering a case of bottles actually is easier! But we have setup kombucha on tap at a number of weddings now and are pretty proud that people choose to serve House for their most special occasions. Check out our On-Tap page for more information.