EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Louie Castorena, owner and founder of El Paso’s Madre Nostra Kombucha, says kombucha, fermented tea, is quickly gaining in popularity in the Borderland.
Kombucha seems to be one of the faster growing beverages at the moment. Kombucha is a fermented, fizzy tea that dates to about 2,000 years and its origins are believed to come from China or Russia.
“The tea can be made from any kind of tea. In this case, we use a blend of green and black tea with a combination of water and sugar,” Castorena said. “After fermentation, the product becomes a sparkling probiotic, rich-acidic tea full of vitamins and antioxidants from the tea and fermentation.”
Sugar, such as honey, that can be fermented is also added, eventually fermenting out with little residual of sugar in the end. Fruit is added after the process is complete for flavored teas.
Castorena said he began brewing kombucha at home because he could only find it at certain stores in El Paso, such as Sprouts. Once he started brewing a few flavored combinations, he began posting it on social media and he started gaining fans of the drink.
He now distributes his kombuchas at different locations throughout El Paso and can be found at the farmer’s market, where he says he has received a lot of support.
“The farmer’s market has been very essential to our growth. It’s helped to bring that education to the customers through samples and letting them know what it is. El Paso was behind the curve, the Kombucha curve,” Castorena said. “But, a lot of people knew about it, it’s just some didn’t like it. They only knew about it from trying it out at the store, that vinegary one. So, they didn’t want to try it. We would give them samples and many ended up liking it.”
Many people who had previously tried it at grocery stores would often tell Castorena how different his local Kombucha tasted. From people that are into fitness to the elderly, many El Pasoans are now becoming regulars.
Some people say they drink it for the health benefits since it has a lot of antioxidants, enzymes, some vitamins and different acids that some claim to help with inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Limited evidence suggests kombucha tea may offer benefits similar to probiotic supplements, including promoting a healthy immune system and preventing constipation.” Some kombucha fans say they appreciate it as an alternative to soda.
Castorena and his team are now producing about 550 gallons of Kombucha each month, a stark contrast from his humble beginnings when he started brewing about 4 gallons at a time.
“El Paso did embrace us more than I actually expected at the beginning,” Castorena said. “We started off doing like 15 gallons and we just grew out of our space, then we started doing 150 gallons a month and growing.”
Castorena said he hopes to keep expanding, eventually getting into retail stores in the Southwest region, especially in New Mexico and Austin.
Customers have the option of buying a bottle or growler that can then be refilled. They also have cans and serve the tea on draft.