Homebrew has a new meaning with Big Easy Bucha, Louisiana’s very own kombucha.
Offering 14 different flavors of raw and vegan kombucha, Big Easy Bucha is an ideal fizzy alternative for sugary sodas. Among the flavors are Bayou Berry, a strawberry and honeysuckle infused kombucha, Cajun Kick, a ginger, citrus and cayenne infused brew, Jazz Juice Tea and Streetcar Sipper.
“Kombucha is a sparkling probiotic tea,” co-founder and CEO Austin Sherman said. “Ours is raw. We don’t pasteurize like some of the big brands, so there’s active living cultures in the liquid that are great for digestion. But really, we see it as a soda replacement for people that are addicted to sugary sodas.”
For those unfamiliar with the popular drink, kombucha is a fermented, effervescent sweet tea drink with live probiotic cultures made by fermenting sugared tea using a SCOBY or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Flavors can be added to enhance its taste. Ginger, cayenne and fruits are popular flavor infusions.
The exact origins of kombucha are not known but it is thought it may have originated in Asia as far back as over 2,000 years ago. In recent years, the drink has become a popular, refreshing replacement for sodas. Whereas a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar, a 16 ounce bottle of Big Easy Bucha has fewer than 10 grams of sugar.
Big Easy Bucha kombucha is 100 % natural and contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, according to the website. In addition, probiotics aren’t added after fermentation, so the drinks are naturally probiotic-rich and a slight variation in flavor from batch-to-batch is welcomed in accordance with their small batch methods.
Sherman founded Big Easy Bucha alongside his wife, Alexis Korman, who oversees the creative, branding and marketing of the company. The couple met in New Orleans, where Sherman was a bartender while Korman worked as a journalist primarily in the food, beverage and travel space.
Sherman’s background as a bartender gave him experience developing flavor profiles. In turn, Korman has worked as a conribting editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine and freelance writer for Fodor’s, New Orleans Living Magazine, The Daily Meal, USA Today and The Travel Channel. What started as a hobby turned into an innovative, profitable business in 2014 for the co-founders.
“I was making kombucha at home for personal consumption and we both had made a couple of big batches, passed them out to some friends, and got some really good feedback,” Sherman said. “We started renting a few square feet in a commercial kitchen in Norco, Louisiana, and that’s how the brand was born.”
Five years later, Big Easy Bucha is available in Walmart, Costco, Publix, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Amazon and the list continues to grow. The company has plans to launch nationwide in 2020 with some key retailers. Currently, Big Easy Bucha is available at CC’s Coffee shops around the University area, and Sherman says it will be available at the CC’s on campus very soon.
“We’re going to keep the pedal on the floor with innovation,” Sherman said. “We’re really getting into an experimental phase. We feel like we’ve got manufacturing down, we can innovate new flavors at a pretty rapid pace, and customers really like that. We’re just trying to keep up, keep on pace and on trend with flavors and innovation on that side.”
In addition to the kombucha, the Big Easy Bucha brewery at 4040 Euphrosine St. in New Orleans is Louisiana’s first kombucha brewery. According to the website, guests can try the local kombucha libations on draft, fill up a growler, buy a Bucha T-shirt or take a community class. Touring hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When asked about the possibility of one day having a specific LSU kombucha flavor, Sherman had exciting things to say.
“I would certainly welcome a Tigers' brew,” Sherman said. “Maybe it’s ‘LSbreU.’”