Tabu’s home brewed kombucha reaches milestone

February 17 - Home-brewing kombucha is an ancient tradition so old that its mythological origins spin off into various stories which all share a common theme: Created in a desperate attempt to give a dying Emperor additional life or discovered by accident after a tea was created with a living culture inside the brew, it gave the consumer healing properties.

The potion was deemed a Tea of Immortality” by those that tried it and its use began to grow steadily for centuries.

Today, kombucha is brewed at home all over the world and is also bottled and sold in stores. As of 2019, the market for kombucha was estimated to be worth $1.7 billion. By symbiotically fermenting sugared tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), often known as a "mother," kombucha is created.

Tabu Lain, founder of Tabucha Kombucha Plus, told The Sentinel in a recent interview that she began making kombucha as a household passion that grew quickly after she began gleaning extra fruit from neighbors and using it to flavor her green tea kombucha.

My first batch was brewed in my kitchen,” she said. “I had expressed the love for kombucha to a friend who happened to have a SCOBY. They wrote down instructions for me and I began immediately.”

Almost 10 years ago, she turned her hobby into a small-time business when friends encouraged her to bottle and sell the product.

I started making large amounts of kombucha right away. I enjoyed all the different flavors from the seasons’ harvests immediately,” Lain said. Through the grapevine, I heard of ‘Bread Club’ and was advised to meet Betsy and Hal [Hartzell, owners of Kalapuya Books]. Betsy welcomed me and I took some [kombucha] in for people to sample.”

Bread Club is a 20-year-old social tradition for local residents who gather on Thursdays at Kalapuya Books and the Axe & Fiddle to create a space for home-crafted goods and art for purchase, prior to the weekly South Valley Farmers Market.

Lain began to serve samples at the events and created an educational brochure for those interested in learning more about the company and her method of creating small batches. Eventually, she said, It paid for the gas, then the sugar and tea and into labeling. Moving from my kitchen to a certified location, licensing was next.” 

Her methods to brew kombucha were serious. As she dove into spending a lot of time researching how to do it traditionally, she found it best to brew and store batches in glass – only transferred to kegs before delivery. The structure of the product changes when brewed in plastic,” she said, and the good bacteria dies.”

As her clientele grew, so did the variety in flavors, which she said come to her naturally from her upbringing. I love cooking, grew up canning. My grandmother sent me up in trees and through the bushes to gather fruits. The combination of them came at the cost of rebelling from the norm. I wanted peppers in fruits and anything else with strawberry than kiwi.” 

Refined flavors began to give Tabucha Kombucha Plus a distinct and delicious maturity in selections. Turmeric and elderberry might be the most popular with health minded people, and the plum and Watermelon seems to be what makes people swoon otherwise,” said Lain.

Identifying what ingredients work together, and what products sell, generated a market of interest and experimenting with combinations that can make or break a company. With the rise in alternative brews offered at markets, restaurants and bars, kombucha is fast becoming a go-to drink for those also wishing to try new fusions in flavors.

I've made over 350 different flavor blends and have watched other kombucha companies serve them in later years,” Lain recalled.Kind of cool to be the small penny-grown company. It was hard to watch the bigger-buck companies blow up around me, but I know my product is as quality as you can get. That's what matters to me.”

Shes not looking to make a fortune with her business; its an act of grace that defies monetary expectations, even when inflation soars. I have no desire to be huge or get rich. This is a labor of love for agriculture and community, and I'll keep it going as long as I'm able,” Lain said.

Gratitude is given to those that have helped Lain accomplish a special milestone that she personally lodged as sole operator of the business. Scott Burgwin, owner of Coast Fork Farm Stand on 10th Street, began carrying Tabus brews in 2017 and, recently, she celebrated her 200th invoice — and approximately 250th drop off overall.

Delivering kombucha from Eugene to Roseburg since 2014, Lain is proud of any motion moving her company forward with demand. Tabucha Kombucha Plus can now be purchased at several outlets on tap or in bottles, including Coast Fork Farm Stand, Coast Fork Brewing, Big Stuff BBQ, Jack Sprats, Axe and Fiddle, Shady Oaks in Cottage Grove, the Hilltop Bar & Grill in Pleasant Hill, Dorena Grange events, and Konfetka in Roseburg.

With Lain now the host of Bread Club most evenings, she says she seldomly has kombucha with her at the events but wants to try and give back to the community by taking private orders and setting up delivery options for those customers. I'm happy to expand in Lane and Douglas County. Anything further is not time or cost effective.”

Bread Club is every Thursday at Kalapuya Books, 637 E. Main Street in Cottage Grove, between 4 and 7 p.m. Tabucha Kombucha Plus can also be found online at