Tucked amongst somewhat nondescript buildings in Gert Town is bright pop of color where New Orleans’ first and only small batch kombucha brewery, Big Easy Bucha, greets its visitors. That immediate splash of vibrancy is carried forward into the brewery, which crafts the fermented beverage of choice for both the health-conscious and trend-conscious of today.
For those not in the know, kombucha is an effervescent tea packed with antioxidants and probiotics, both of which can aid in digestion, immune system functions, and overall health. The beverage is vegan, raw, and is naturally sweetened but very low in sugar, especially compared to nearly all juices and sodas on the market. Big Easy’s signature mellow flavor blends are particularly easy to drink — a "gateway kombucha," as Big Easy Bucha's founders said of their brews.
Austin Sherman and Alexis Korman launched the company in 2014. To say it has grown exponentially in the intervening years would be an understatement. From homemade creations in their own kitchen to hand packing and labeling, this couple has done it all.
Korman and Sherman met in New Orleans, first bonding over their mutual background and enthusiasm for the food and beverage industry. Alexis is originally from Canada and moved to the Crescent City on a whim from New York a little over five years ago. She’s a long time vegetarian and kombucha drinker and has been a food and wine writer for the past decade. The Tampa-born and raised Austin has worked as a bartender in New Orleans, as well as other entrepreneurial pursuits. Through hard work and dedication, the love they have for this product has grown, spread, and manifested itself into what is now a well-known brand in the region and beyond.
“Louisiana is blessed to be an agricultural state: we put two and two together when we realized there was no local commercial brand of kombucha and set out to flavor our ‘bucha with the wonderful and unique fruit that can be sourced from the region.” – Austin Sherman and Alexis Korman
One of the main goals of Big Easy Bucha is to source locally whenever possible. Austin and Alexis have worked to establish relationships with local farmers, which has truly become one of the joys of their business. The family-owned Zeringue Farm in Taft, LA has been their source for satsumas for the last few years. In 2016, the farm partnered with the company and were able to plant based solely on the brewery’s projections for the year.
While some of their suppliers can change due to harvest conditions as well as supply/demand, their recently promoted on-staff forager Danny Milojevic has got it under control. His job is specifically to source fruit for each of their flavors. At the present time, there is no other commercial kombucha company with such a program, and Big Easy is at the forefront of the farm-to-(kombucha) bottle movement.
Along with Zeringue, Big Easy Bucha has great relationships with Baglio Farms, Liuzza Produce Farm, and Inglewood Farm. The company also works closely with the economic and employment opportunity initiative STRIVE New Orleans, and donates a portion of their proceeds to local charities such as St. Jude Community Center and Grow Dat Youth Farm.
Kombucha on tap: like any good brewery, Big Easy Bucha allows visitors to sample and sip on their favorite flavors while they tour the facility
Since there isn’t exactly a catalogue of commercial kombucha brewing equipment, the owner’s cherry-picked theirs from a variety of different industries including beer and soda plants. A batch of kombucha can take anywhere from 10-14 days or longer from start to finish, depending on the size of the batch and the temperature.
While the brewers wait to meet certain internal parameters such as pH, they are also allowing ample fermentation until their batches achieve “those soft, rounded floral notes that are a signature of our brand, and strike the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity,” said Sherman and Korman. Kombucha has a decently long shelf life, about six months, but must always be kept refrigerated lest you get any of that bad bacteria. Once opened, it should be consumed within a day or two for maximum flavor and freshness.
Big Easy Bucha can presently be found at Whole Foods Markets, Rouse’s, Canseco’s, Hollygrove Market + Farm, and many other retailers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and all the way in New York City. Check out the Big Easy Bucha website fo