Kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea that has been touted as a health elixir by the Chinese for millennia, has recently seen a rise in popularity throughout the United States. Now, Louisianans have access to locally brewed kombucha, thanks to Austin Sherman and Alexis Korman, a husband-wife team who founded New Orleans’ first kombucha brewery, Big Easy Bucha.
Austin, a bartender, and Alexis, a food and beverage journalist, started Big Easy Bucha after brewing the beverage at home for years. The company opened in 2014, and Austin and Alexis take pride in supporting local charities and supporting Louisiana’s economy by using locally sourced ingredients.
“We have this amazing produce that we can pull from,” Alexis says. “Most American kombuchas come from the West Coast and Texas…but they’re not really even using regional or local ingredients. We came at it from the opposite angle: ‘How can we do a kombucha that’s artisanal and representative of where we live?’”
To find those local flavors, Alexis and Austin employ a forager who sources ingredients at their seasonal peak, including Ponchatoula strawberries and Franklinton blueberries. The ingredients produce drinks with uniquely New Orleans monikers, such as Basin Street Blues (blueberry and mayhaw) and Cajun Kick (ginger, citrus, and cayenne). Big Easy Bucha also offers limited edition flavors at their brewery, where customers can fill up growlers of their favorite kombuchas.
“You’ll see a lot of floral notes in our kombuchas, like honeysuckle and elderflower,” Alexis says. “Those things make ours a little softer than some of the others…and it makes it so that they play really well with some spirits.”
Austin and Alexis serve kombucha cocktails often when entertaining at home. Austin likes to mix Cajun Kick with Old New Orleans Rum’s Cajun Spice Rum and a squeeze of lime, while Alexis enjoys how Bayou Berry tastes mixed with Crescent Vodka. “Kombucha’s great because you get the bubbles and you get the flavor, but you don’t get the guilt, which is really nice,” Austin says.
The next time you entertain, mix up this Strawberry Kombucha Spritz for a delightfully fizzy twist on the classic cocktail, or experiment with different flavors to find a combination you love.
recipe development and food styling by anita simpson spain | styling by mary beth jones