This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper
It seems Montauk is just brewing with new ideas lately.
It’s a literal hot spot of innovation. Beer, whiskey, tea, and now kombucha. As much as I’d like to write about beer or whiskey (again), being a fitness column this week I’m putting the spotlight on Monbrewcha.
Molly and Jean Nolan are the sister duo who created a kombucha brand right in their hometown. The four-year age gap, with Jean being the older sister, proved to be a family recipe for success. Flavors range from Tart Cherry, the newest year-round flavor, to Lemon + Ginger + Cayenne + Tumeric, to Elderberry, Hibiscus, and the seasonal Chai Spice.
This #MagicForYourBelly (company motto) fits right in with their life motto of ‘Food is Medicine.’ Let’s get ‘tauking.
Molly, where specifically did you travel that inspired the business?
After I finished my masters, I turned down a job, my boyfriend quit his job, and the two of us traveled to Kauai, Australia, New Zealand (South Island, only), and Thailand. The two of us were drinking Remedy Kombucha (an Australian brand) mid-afternoon when we were feeling zonked after exploring. After a few sips, we felt more energized and ready to keep going.
The ‘bucha struck a nerve and I found myself tinkering with the idea of starting up a kombucha business when I got home. I applied to the Montauk Farmer’s Market, was accepted, and sold Monbrewcha by the bottle along side raw vegan treats (bliss balls) the summer of 2016. Some places in Montauk wanted to carry it, and so we started wholesaling more seriously that fall (that is when Jean joined forces with her).
What are the benefits of kombucha?
Kombucha, although acidic, has an alkalizing effect in the body. It is also packed with probiotics, which is why many people report improved digestion. Kombucha contains B vitamins, B12 included, which is why some experience increased energy levels. It also contains organic acids like glucuronic acid that binds toxins, helping to detoxify the liver. Hence its nickname, the “tea of immortality.”
What’s the process like to make it?
Essentially, tea is steeped, sugar is added and dissolved, and then a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is added to either a one or two-gallon glass vessels for fermentation. The vessels ferment for at least eight days and upwards of 21 days for the two-gallon batches. Once the pH and taste is just right, the kombucha is flavored and then bottled. We don’t force carbonate our bottles, meaning the fizz is au naturel.
How do you make Monbrewcha stand out so with a smoother taste?
We went with simple flavors to cut kombucha’s vinegar-like taste, to ultimately create a smooth drinking experience. To add to that, we don’t force carbonate, making it more tame than other brands.
What’re some of your favorite places to eat healthy and stay fit on the East End?
Happy Bowls, Joni’s, Naturally Good in Montauk, The Squeezery, Organic Krush, Hampton Chutney in Amagansett.
The Market in Greenport, Love Lane Market, Good Food in Mattituck. Saaz in Southampton is Molly’s new favorite restaurant—they have a ton of vegan options. Many of the places we sell our kombucha to are great, healthy spots. We both try to get outside everyday and go for long hikes/walks. Navy and Shadmoor trails are our favorite spots.
Favorite meal to pair the Monbrewcha with?
Molly prefers her bucha on an empty stomach, but if she had to pick a food it would be bliss balls. Jean’s morning routine: coffee, water, kombucha, smoothie
As a fairly recent start-up, it seems your growth is consistently increasing. What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
There’s been many hurdles across all aspects of the business from accounting to labeling rules to inspections to delivery logistics and more. It’s been a learning curve for sure, but has made us stronger as individuals and a business. Our biggest hurdle thus far has been getting new accounts—there’s no business without the accounts.
We have learned the value of forming a relationship with each and every account. For us, the best part of wholesale is getting to be a small piece of each business we sell to.
Sisterly advice you constantly give to each other…
Jean to Molly: Take a deep breath and relax.
Molly to Jean: Step it up, let’s go. We balance each other out.
Finish the following sentences…
I religiously stick to a health/wellness philosophy of …
Molly: a plant-based diet.
Jean: everything in moderation.
My friends would probably laugh at me if they knew …
Molly: I got colonics.
Jean: the amount I drool in my sleep.
I’m most myself when I’m…
Molly: in a giggly mood.
Jean: with my family.
Mombrewcha is best enjoyed …
Molly: on a hot summer day straight off the tap.
Jean: straight after fermentation.
Check back with their upcoming partnerships with Tote Taxi and Beauty Disclosed, other female-founded brands. Visit their website for a list of where you can purchase their kombucha, follow them on social media @monbrewcha.