Life in the South moves at a slower pace than in other areas of the country. That proves true in many ways, including trends. It often takes longer for new movements to trickle down from larger cities. It’s true in fashion and music, as well as food. And it’s something Jovan Sage has certainly noticed. The holistic health coach, entrepreneur and all around food expert has seen it time and again.
Sage formerly lived in New York City, where exciting things were constantly popping up.
“There is always something new there ... here it takes about five years for a trend to make it down,” she said.
Since relocating, Sage has made a point to keep her eye on what’s happening in the culinary world nationally and even internationally. It comes in handy considering her career. She works with fiancée Matthew Raiford on a number of projects — including co-owning the Farmer and the Larder. The duo is also opening a new location called Strong Roots Provisions, a jazz and blues bar. Both are located on Newcastle Street in downtown Brunswick. She also owns her own company Sage’s Larder that focuses on crafting organic and natural herbs blends, teas and sauces.
To say she’s busy is a drastic understatement, but Sage always makes it a priority to understand the changing landscape of the food and beverage industry. One of the most recent trends might be new to some but not to Sage. That’s kombucha. The fermented tea craze sweeping the nation fully arrived in Georgia fairly recently. Sage, however, has been brewing batches for quite some time.
“I started it when I lived in New York, so I’ve been doing it for over a decade,” she said. “I was just trying different things. I think one of my friends was like ‘you should try this tea thing.’ I started tasting more and more flavors, more and more types. The commercial producers have gotten better and better.”
Kombucha hails from Japan and comes in a variety of flavors. It is a slightly sour beverage that promotes digestion and gut health. Sage has long appreciated those qualities and now makes it available for purchase through Sage’s Larder. She also hosts classes where she helps people interested get started on brewing their own tea.
One of those workshops is on tap for this weekend from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Farmer and the Larder. During the event, Sage will demonstrate how to get started brewing the tea at home. While it is a fairly simple process, that anyone can do, it does take some guidance.
“So you start with the SCOBY ... which stands for a ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.’ It eats or drinks the sweet tea,” Sage said.
The SCOBY continues to grow as it eats more and more sugar. It’s byproduct is a fizzy, slightly sour fermentation. It is similar to producing vinegar or alcoholic beverages such as beer, however, kombucha’s alcohol content is so low (0.5 percent) that it produces no intoxicating effects. It is sold to all ages of customers across the country. In rare cases, some teas have higher alcohol content but those are noted on the label.
Instead, kombucha works to improve the digestion system and keep the body healthy.
“Kombucha has all kinds of beneficial bacteria for digestion. Now a lot of folks think of our stomach as our second brain ... and if you think about it, it makes sense. If it is controlling our mood and how we move in the world, don’t we want to do the best thing for it?,” Sage said.
In addition to the probiotic effects, the tea allows other elements such as herbs to be mixed in for additional benefit. Sage, who grows a number of plants for herself, reaches for hibiscus or elderflower and likes to bring additional flavors into the tea.
“I always say ... it’s all about the flavor,” she said.
During the class this weekend, she will demonstrate how potential brewers get started. She will also offer a number of tips and tricks, as well as offer a step-by-step demonstration. Her process, listed below, takes roughly a week and allows a number of personal touches to be added for preference. But, overall, Sage says it’s a wonderful way to add a tasty yet healthy treat to your day.
“It’s another way to get all of that good stuff in your body ... and up the level of beneficial bacteria you are taking into your system,” she said.
Fermenting: Kombucha Directions
- Boil 4 cups of water
- Remove from heat and add 12 grams of tea
- Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes
- Remove tea leaves (or bag) from the liquid tea and add 1 cup of sugar; stir.
- Fill 1 gallon brew jar with 1/2 gallon of cool, clean water.
- Add warm sweetened tea to brew jar.
- Empty entire content of SCOBY bag (1-2 cups liquid and solids) to brew jar
- Add cool, clean water to brew jar until liquid surface is just below the neck of the jar; stir.
- Cover the brew jar with paper towel or cloth and affix to brew jar with rubber band (do not use a cheese cloth).
- Let brew jar sit in a warm place for 7 to 14 days.