Have you heard of Kombucha?

The other day, one of my coworkers said to me, “I’m drinking ‘Kombucha’! It’s very healthy.” So I said, “Oh, it’s Japanese. It’s a bit salty, isn’t it? It’s made of seaweed, so maybe it’s good for health.” Then she went, “No, it’s sweet. There are many flavours, but Gingerade is my favourite!”, and showed me one of these this bottles.


I was totally confused, because “Kombucha” I know and any Japanese know is this.


Japanese Kombucha is powdered kombu — edible kelp — and you mix it with hot water to drink. It’s slightly salty, but has a savory taste, “Umami”. We enjoy as is or use it for cooking as seasoning. Obviously the Kombucha my coworker was talking about was not the same thing. So I did some research on it.

According to Wikipedia, in Western countries “Kombucha” refers to any of a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks. Unlike the name “Kombucha”, it doesn’t contain any kelp, but it contains tea fungus originated from east Mongolia and later drunk in Siberia. I see, mystery solved.

Actually, tea fungus was a huge health fad in 70’s and 80’s in Japan. Apparently, people were growing tea fungus at home. Later, it disappeared completely from Media, but it changed the name to “Kombucha” and it has been making another fad in the US. Very interesting.

I haven’t tried “Kombucha” yet, and I am still having a hard time not associating the word “Kombucha” with our “Kombucha”. Has anyone tried “Kombucha” yet?


Chocolate Beer in a chocolate glass

I don’t drink, but I want to sip a little bit when I find something interesting. This is the one of them.

SanktGallen Brewery, a Japanese microbrewery, has been producing a lineup of sweet beer since 2003.

The founder and president of SanktGallen Brewery, Nobuhisa Iwakmoto, is a pioneer of microbrewery in Japan. He opened a brewery pub called “Café Pacifica” in San Francisco in 1993 with his father. At that time, microbreweries in Japan could not get a license unless they produced at least 2 million liters of beer per year. After coming back to Japan, he opened a restaurant “SanktGallen” in Tokyo and he was reverse importing his beer from the US. After Japan changed the requirement for brewery, he finally obtained the license and opened the microbrewery “SanktGallen” in 1997.

SanktGallen’s imperial chocolate stout became available in the market in 2006 and all 6,000 bottles were sold out in one week. It won the Monde Selection Grand Gold in 2008. Despite the name “chocolate stout”, the beer doesn’t contain cacao or chocolate; it creates chocolate like aroma with only regular beer ingredients. With 9% of alcohol, this rich black beer can be matured up to 2 years.

The imperial chocolate stout actually goes well with real chocolate. For Valentine’s Day only, a special glass made of chocolate comes with the imperial chocolate stout. The chocolate glass won’t melt even after drinking 5 glasses of beer. SanktGallen’s chocolate stout family has three other members: Strawberry Chocolate Stout, Orange Chocolate Stout, and Sweet Vanilla Stout. The pioneer Iwamoto’s journey continues…