Many Thacher students and faculty may have noticed a sudden rise in the mention of the mysterious beverage, seen students toting large black jugs back from town, and heard talk of the new club Kombucha Krew, but what is kombucha and why has it taken over Thacher this fall?
Kombucha is a flavored tea fermented using a fungus that is a combination of yeast and bacteria. It is rumored to have extreme healing properties, although the only clear benefit is the gut bacteria that come in unpasteurized kombucha. Molly O’Neill of the New York Times says, “Some say it is a miracle cure. Some say it is a miraculous catalyst for community. Some say it is nothing more than a marketing miracle and may be dangerous.” We do not know about the long-term effects of kombucha, but its consumption rate continues to grow among the Thacher population.
Revel, a kombucha store and restaurant in Ojai, supplies students with large amounts of the beverage every weekend and a new club at Thacher, the Kombucha Krew, has an impressive 86 members. One club head, Lila Potter, spoke to why the Krew is important, saying, “There’s a lot of stigma around kombucha and it being this hippy drink that tastes bad and is weird but it’s just a really good drink.” Potter also noted, “It tastes like soda but it’s better and it doesn’t have as much sugar,” an important quality for sugar-addicted teenagers to stay healthier. Many students, agreeing with Potter’s beliefs, frequent Revel on weekends and take pride in the jugs and jars with a white or orange logo stamped on them that they bring their kombucha home in. In fact, the sophomore girls have so many Revel containers that Ms. Merlini, Middle School dorm head, announced on Sunday night that the dorm now has a separate fridge exclusively for kombucha.
Kombucha, although new to Thacher, has a long and conflicted history, and many know the name from a scandal. In 2010, Synergy brand kombucha was taken off grocery store shelves because it continued to ferment in the bottle so that by the time it was consumed it often had the same alcohol content as some beer. Kombucha, therefore, is sometimes regarded as a semi-alcoholic drink, though its alcohol content is now within regulations, and may be appealing to students for this reason because it could serve as a small act of rebellion to drink a beverage that, although not alcoholic, has a similar fermented taste to some alcohol.
Although the kombucha craze seems to be ever-growing among Thacher students, we have not found one specific reason for its popularity, though the aesthetically pleasing Revel containers, the taste, the fermented appeal, and the fact that everyone else is drinking it are important contributors.