It took a younger generation to rediscover the health benefits of a centuries-old drink – Kombucha.
“Kom-what?” I asked my sons who tried to convince us to drink it.
Kombucha sounds like a trendy drink, but it’s hardly new. It is fermented tea known as a health elixir and dates back to ancient China nearly 5,000 years ago. Written records date back to the Qin dynasty (220 B.C.) when the medicinal tonic was referred to as the “elixir of life.”
Kombucha consists of tea + cane sugar + a starter. Equipment needed are glass jars, spoons, a sieve and bowls. Loyal fans of this beverage claim it is a cure for everything – from tummy aches to aging. Taken regularly, it has been known to be beneficial for conditions like arthritis, gout, digestive issues and even acne. Tanya describes kombucha as a fun drink, too.
Tanya loves tea so she started making kombucha at home as a hobby. Inspired by her parents’ passion for good health, Tanya took to crafting her own beverage. What started as a small amount for her family expanded to gifts to neighbors, and later to strangers she met while walking her dog Guinness in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. Before long, those same strangers came back wanting more and offering to pay for her kombucha.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm of her family, Tanya ramped up her Kombucha production. From ten gallons a week, she made 50 gallons weekly which could no longer fit in her refrigerator at home. A neighbor offered their bakery’s kitchen space for processing and storage.
Soon Tanya needed more funding to expand, so she turned to Kickstarter, a popular crowd-sourcing program. She only had a month to raise the amount needed. Tanya’s Kickstarter video impressed her audience because it showed her sincerity to provide a healthy drink. People supported her story. Despite being new to the food business, the opportunities to craft and sell Kombucha kept coming. After a month, her Kickstarter bore fruit, and she got funding for more equipment, a bigger staff, and a space to sell.
Today, Craft Kombucha sells 12,000 liters per week at over four locations. Sales have tripled since she opened for business.
She believes in staying true to tradition and keeping the health food movement alive. She delights in serving a young base of customers in the D.C. area, specifically those who like to eat local and eat natural.
Tanya teaches a kombucha-making class at the Union Market regularly. She explains, “I teach a class because it is not easy to start a food business. I want to help those starting out. If you can make kombucha, if you can embrace this drink, then it will have an impact on your life.” This is her way of giving back to her community.
Craft Kombucha’s flagship flavors are ginger, elderflower and pomegranate. There are seasonal flavors: Bavarian in the fall, Stout in the winter and a calamansi variety aptly called “Filipino.” The refreshing, effervescent and sparkling probiotic drink floats down your throat like a balm when you are parched.
Tanya’s circle has expanded. She is a member of the trade association, Kombucha Brewers International. Its members share her passion and most have the same founding story – they started out by making a healthy drink for the family.
Tanya is no stranger to strength and courage, which runs deep in her family roots. She belongs to the tightknit Manglapus-Maynigo clan that came to the DC-Virginia area when patriarch, the late Philippine Senator Raul Manglapus and wife Pacing went into exile during the Martial Law years. As a baby, Tanya along with her parents Ben Maynigo and Tina Manglapus, arrived as political refugees, escaping Manila by boat through southern Philippines.
“When I talk about my kombucha, I am proud to tell people I am a Filipina. I am grateful that Filipino food is now becoming recognized.”
Tanya’s contribution to holistic nutrition is her Craft Kombucha. She believes this type of wellbeing affects the body and mood.
Tanya has an infinite love for her husband and family’s good health. Her parents’ wellbeing was the root of her motivation – her love for others and her community built her business. This was what sparked her desire to craft Kombucha. It was a spark so strong that it bubbled, burst and spewed into a vibrant business that promotes wellness for many.
Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “How to Cook Philippine Desserts: Cakes and Snacks” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site AsianInAmericaMag.com.
More articles by Elizabeth Ann Quirino