When kombucha gained popularity in Portland in 2009, Summer Abbot knew she had to get in on it.
“People were hooked,” she said. “Kombucha’s this product that people love and they feel really great about drinking it. There’s the perception of good health.”
Kombucha is a fermented, sweetened tea that brought in $1.5 billion globally in 2017. That market is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent over the next five years as health-conscious consumers increasingly seek probiotic foods like kombucha, kimchi and kefir for purported digestion benefits.
Abbott got in on the kombucha craze early: She started Oregon Kombucha in 2009, selling her line of fermented tea in bulk to cafes.
But then an idea struck. What if she helped others make their own kombucha at home, she thought. So Abbott developed DIY kombucha kits, complete with tea and a SCOBY, or bacteria and yeast starter.
She sold the kits and her bottled kombucha at the Portland Farmers Market, but before she knew it, one of her suppliers, a distributor in town, offered to sell the kits to grocery stores in Portland and Seattle.