Mt. Hood Breweries – 103 Miles

Obviously the result of a marketing experiment designed to test the late-90′s discovery that consumers will buy any beverage that comes in an unusual shaped bottle, the makers of kombucha decided to push this law to its limits. Not only would they provide us with less liquid than ever before and charge more for it, but they would give us a drink that tastes like bile and contains chunks of an unidentifiable floating slimy substance.

There is no fucking way people will buy this, they thought.

Well, people did. Kombucha costs $3. It tastes like used tea. And we all keep buying it. And I think therein lies the magic of Kombucha: The “wonder” part of the wonderdrink comes not in its elixer-like qualities, but in it’s ability to defy all laws that mankind has discovered or developed. It violates laws of supply and demand, it violates laws of good taste, it violates laws of thermodynamics. It’s as if rules don’t apply to Kombucha. It is the beverage of mavericks.

Kombucha has long been considered a magical elixer by cultures yet to discover Zima and muscle relaxers, and the Western method of brewing kombucha came to us from Russia in the late 1800s. I can’t speak for the Russian doctors of the 19th century, but my Russian friend once told me the national cure to the common cold was to “drink a pint glass of vodka with fresh ground pepper, then go cross country skiing”. So they clearly know their wonder drinks. And aside from ingestion, I’ve also heard that that topical kombucha cures psoriasis and makes a wonderful addition to any poultice.

In times of economic crisis, it’s often the Veblen goods that are the first to go, when people begin to eat rotten food out of necessity rather than desire. So it should be no surprise that a roommate of mine tried to make his own kombucha. But he insisted on referring to the kombucha starter that lived in the jar by it’s official name, “the baby”. Which would be fine if “the baby” didn’t look so much like a fetus in formaldehyde. I kept imagining him drinking his creation straight from the mason jar, with what looked like a complete meatloaf bobbing around inside the glass. Then I’d wimper. But he would just laugh, because at least his kombucha was free. And he knew that I was going to keep paying $3 for my tiny jar of rotten beverage.