Fog Drop Ferments is a small business owned and operated by the Geselbracht family in Oakland, CA producing small-batch fermented kombucha. We are currently in the scale-up portion of developing this business and we welcome you to join us in our journey.
We are developing this business as a local-foods venture, where we source as many of our raw materials as possible from local growers by way of farmers' markets, etc., and our offerings are tailored to seasonal fruits and botanicals. We are committed to minimizing the carbon footprint of our operation, and all of the energy used in the production process is solar-powered.
Jim Geselbracht is a Civil Engineer and spent much of his career designing water and wastewater treatment systems, especially biological treatment systems, which rely on micro-organisms to convert waste products and raw food sources into clean, purified water. Brewing kombucha, where bacteria and yeast convert sugar into organic acids, is a natural extension of that work. Jim has applied his experience in industrial treatment systems to the production process by ensuring that each step of the production cycle follows standardized procedures and is monitored to ensure the quality and safety of the finished product.
In following our committment to producing the freshest, best-tasting kombucha on the market, we are using a home-delivery model for distribution of the final product. Growing up in the 1960s, we had a milk man who would deliver fresh milk and eggs to our house on a regular basis. We'd like to return to those days, with direct home delivery to our neighbors. If you are interested in having kombucha delivered to your home, you can create an account on this website and place an order. We'll include you in our next delivery round.
We live in Oakland, a town where the word "Hella" is used as an adverb to provide emphasis in a statement like "It's Hella Good!" "Holler" is the rural pronunciation for "hollow," an area that is lower than the land that surrounds it. Jim and Sam play old-time American fiddle music from the Midwest and Appalachia, places where folks might live in hollers, often isolated from the community at large. Places from which a rich musical heritage has developed and continues to spring forth. The name Hella Holler implies a nice mash-up of urban and rural sensibilities, reflecting the ancient and often isolated roots of kombucha springing forth in an urban setting. So we're using Hella Holler as our Kombucha brand name. And our hipster banjo guy is just fun.
We brew many flavors of kombucha using seasonally-available fruits and botanicals.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage. The process starts with a sweetened tea (11 g sugar per 8 oz. serving), which is then metabolized by acetic acid bacteria and yeast to convert the sugars into some alcohol (< 0.5%) and various organic acids. After about 2 weeks, the bacteria/yeast mat is removed and the fruit/botanicals are added to the fermented liquid. The free-swimming microbes left in the liquid work on the additives for another week (the secondary fermentation), extracting their sweetness and flavor. At the end of the secondary fermentation, we filter the beverage to remove most of the yeast (but keeping the pro-biotic bacteria), carbonate it with CO2 gas and then bottle it.
We brew all of our kombucha starting with green tea. We have found that green tea doesn't muddy up the flavors of the additives the way black tea does. Plus, green tea has those great anti-oxidants.
We select our secondary fermentation additives based on what fruits are currently in-season. During the winter months, when local seasonal fruits are unavailable, we switch to botanicals such as mint, lavender and rosemary. Our kombucha offerings have included the following:
|Lavender||Jujube (red date)|
We haven't completed our nutritional testing for our kombucha yet. But what we expect to find when we do is the total amount of sugar in the finished kombucha will be less than 10 grams per 8 oz. serving and the calories will be less than 40 calories per 8 oz. serving. Alcohol content will be less than 1.5%.
% of Fructose Remaining after Kombucha Fermentation, based on data in "Analysis of Kombucha Ferments," Michael Roussin, 2003
The sugar content and calories for our kombucha are on the low side, partially due to the fact that we have worked at reducing the amount of sugar with which we start the fermentation. We also have been working at reducing the amount of residual fructose in the kombucha. Many studies of the kombucha process have noted that when pure sucrose (table sugar) is used to make the sweet tea that starts the kombucha brewing process, there is a significant amount of fructose that is not metabolized by the SCOBY. Refer to the figure at the right, which gives a frequency distribution of remaining fructose for 17 different kombucha products based on analysis work done by Roussin. The results of his work show that the median value for fructose remaining at the end of kombucha fermentation is about 55%.
One of the first things that happens in the brewing process is that yeast cleave the sucrose molecule into glucose and fructose using the enzyme invertase (we also hasten that process by inverting the sugar when we make the sweet tea). Both the yeast and the bacteria prefer glucose over fructose, and so they work on the glucose first. Once most of the glucose has been metabolized, then they work on fructose, which is harder for them to metabolize. The good news is that fructose is much sweeter, gram for gram, than glucose. But the bad news is that fructose is harder for you and I to metabolize; it is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and almost entirely metabolised by the liver. Under "normal" dietary conditions that metabolism is not a problem. But the high fructose load of many of our contemporary diets has been indicted as one of the problems that has led to increased obesity and liver disease. We think it is a good idea to reduce our contribution to this problem, and so have reduced the amount of fructose in the kombucha we produce. It is a bit of a balancing act, since we don't want to get completely rid of the sweetness that fructose brings, and we think we've hit on a good compromise.
If you surf the web and read health blogs and producer web sites about kombucha, you might think that drinking kombucha will solve all of your health and personal problems. I don't know about that. The truth is that there have been few reputable scientific studies that identify all of the fermentation products in kombucha, let alone the health effects of drinking kombucha. Part of the problem is that each SCOBY has a unique population of bacteria and yeast and the fermentation conditions (temperature, fermentation time, sugar concentration, type of tea, etc.) differ from producer to producer. If we don't know exactly what is in the kombucha, it is hard to say with certainty what effects drinking it might have.
Here's a Link to a good article that discusses some of the kombucha myths.
Kombucha is also marketed as a pro-biotic, since it contains a live population of acetic-acid bacteria. While many people believe that consuming fermented foods is important for maintaining a healthy population of gut bacteria, it isn't clear that the live bacteria in fermented foods can make it past the low-pH environment of our stomach (which is designed to kill foreign bacteria) into our colon.
Our position on the health claims of kombucha is:
We like the taste of kombucha, and find it a refreshing drink
The probiotics and low pH in kombucha certainly don't hurt and likely help in attacking any pathogenic bacteria that might have found their way into our gut.
The fermentation process produces many organic acids and other metabolites that might be helpful to our body. A drink that contains this "pre-digested" sugar is certainly healthier than one containing raw sucrose or fructose.
We hope you enjoy our kombucha. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send us an email at: email@example.com