Fermented foods are having a moment. And the increasing popularity of kefir, vinegar drinks and pickled, well, everything, shows that it’s not going away anytime soon. Lucy Kreger, co-owner of Luluna Health, a company that brews a fermented tea drink called kombucha, says that this is more than a trend. “People are paying attention to their health, and that wonderful awareness is not something that will go away,” says Kreger. Drinking kombucha has a lot of health benefits. “People come up to me at farmers markets and say that after drinking kombucha, they’ve noticed changes in their mood, an increase in energy and reduced IBS symptoms.”
Kreger began experimenting with brewing kombucha several years ago. Then about a year ago, Kreger and her partner, Connor Maroney, committed to developing Luluna Health. And they’ve also committed to the local economy by using only locally sourced ingredients for their products. To make Luluna’s kombucha, organic cane sugar is mixed with brewed tea from a local source. After a two-week fermentation period, the resulting kombucha is flavored with locally sourced herbs and produce. Even the water used to brew the tea is local. “We use local spring water instead of tap water,” explains Kreger. The result is a naturally effervescent drink that is low in both caffeine and sugar because the fermentation process cuts the tea’s caffeine content and the sugar content by about 50%. “In one serving of kombucha, there are about 5 grams of sugar, and it contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of green tea,” says Kreger. For those who prefer a completely caffeine-free product, Luluna offers kombucha brewed with naturally caffeine-free hibiscus tea.
Because the produce used to flavor the kombucha is locally sourced, Luluna offers seasonal flavors to coincide with different harvest periods. “Strawberry harvest is coming to life, so we’ll be offering a strawberry tulsi flavor soon,” Kreger says. Last winter, Luluna offered a kombucha flavored with cranberries and a variety of spices, which was perfect for the holiday season.
But flavor isn’t the only thing Kreger and Maroney think about when developing produce and herb combinations. They also think about the health benefits of each ingredient. For example, Hibiscus Lemonade offers drinkers the detoxifying properties of lemons, while Blue Ginger, made with blueberries and ginger, offers the antioxidant properties of blueberries and the inflammation reducing properties of ginger. Other flavors offered include Elemint, which is made with peppermint, lemongrass, chamomile and fresh squeezed lemon, Vanilla Rose and Raspberry Rooibos.
It isn’t only health nuts drinking Luluna’s kombucha, though. “People often tell me about their cocktail experiments,” says Kreger. And because of kombucha’s detoxifying properties, it makes a relatively guilt-free cocktail. “You detox while you retox,” quips Kreger.
Luluna Health is finalizing plans to move into a new building in Pawtucket soon. This is strictly a production facility, however, but there are plenty of places where you can buy Luluna’s kombucha. Find them at the Hope Street farmers market on Wednesdays, at the Block Island farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at the Armory farmers market on the West Side on Thursdays and at the Schoolyard Market at Hope and Main on Sundays. They’re also on tap at Crazy Burger in Narragansett, and Stock Culinary Goods has a fill station with two flavors where you can grab a 16 oz bottle or a 32 oz growlette and fill it up with the good stuff.