Winter in Wisconsin can be difficult on our bodies. Some of us make commitments to gyms for the New Year, but shortly thereafter we make new commitments to never make commitments to gyms again. We may genuinely want to be healthier, but our quest for health and detoxification turns out to be short-lived after our daily lives intervene. We also don’t drink as much water in the winter as we do in the warmer seasons. This is somewhat ironic considering “winter” is a derivative of the old English term wintar, meaning “time of water.” While water is essential for health and detoxification, it can be, well, a little dull for our sun-seeking spirits. Fortunately, good ole boring water has an exciting counterpart that will help our vitality and detoxify our bodies year-round—kombucha.

When I told my dad I was writing an article about kombucha, he thought it was a form of dance. Kombucha has been around for centuries; only recently has it become a part of Western culture. And it’s not a dance, although it does like to shake up your body, in a good way of course. Just don’t shake a bottle of kombucha. Kombucha is created by combining tea with a SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. When you marry the SCOBY and tea, the former absorbs the sugar and ferments the tea. What you’re left with is an effervescent drink that possesses countless healthy attributes, namely: detoxification, joint support, immune system care and digestive improvement. If the tea used in the production process is caffeinated, most of the caffeine is absorbed in the fermentation process. Also, if you’ve heard the rumor that alcohol is present in kombucha, well, it’s technically true, but it contains less alcohol than a glass of fresh orange juice. You can add alcohol to kombucha for some serious cocktails, but that’s an article for a different time. Here are the kombucha-making companies Willy Street Co-op carries.

Nessalla
Our first kombucha company is Nessalla, from right here in Madison. Nessalla uses organic, Fair Trade ingredients and creates their raw kombucha in small batches using Rishi tea from Milwaukee. Each bottle you purchase has been bottled “in the last week or two.” Since our bodies need to get accustomed to kombucha, Nessalla recommends four to eight ounces a day followed by an equal serving of water. Willy Street Co-op has several flavors to choose from, including Lemongrass Ginger, Blueberry and Traditional Oolong. If you’d prefer to brew your own kombucha, Nessalla also offers home brewing kits that include everything you need to make your own batches. These are available in our kombucha coolers.

Reed’s
If you’re dreaming of southern California this winter, this Los Angeles company has a kombucha for you. Available at Willy West, Reed’s utilizes oolong and yerba mate teas to create their organic, raw kombucha. Reed’s has won awards for their ginger beer and Virgil’s Root Beer—both offered at Willy Street Co-op—so it’s no wonder their kombucha selection has had an impact. There are many flavors to try, most of which contain the gloriously therapeutic herb, ginger. Cranberry Ginger, Passion Mango Ginger and Pomegranate Ginger are just three.

GT’s
GT’s is another Los Angeles-based kombucha company, but this one has an exceptionally wonderful genesis. When he was all of 15, the owner of GT’s learned his mother had an aggressive disease. Since kombucha was already something his mother was drinking to help her, GT Dave, as he’s known, found inspiration and began creating his own kombucha and selling it door to door. His company now makes over 17 flavors, many of which are offered at Willy Street Co-op. Some even contain chia, the little seed with the huge nutritional profile. GT’s mission is, “to combine the wisdom of ancient medicinal foods with the resources of the modern day to create products that uplift and enlighten the health of all those who enjoy them.” Suffice to say, we could all use a little extra light over the winter. By the way, his mother is just fine and has a role in the company.

Celestial Seasonings
You’ve probably encountered this Boulder, Colorado, tea company before. Celestial Seasonings has become a major tea manufacturer since its inception in 1969, so its venture into the kombucha universe seems natural. Willy Street Co-op carries a varied assortment of their products, including their organic, raw kombucha. Take your pick from Original, Pomelo Citrus, Superfruit, Meyer Lemon Ginger or Berry Guava. Celestial Seasonings kombucha is available at Willy West.

January is the ideal time to start detoxifying your body. The holidays are complete, spring is around the corner—hopefully—and you can finally focus on your health. Drinking kombucha everyday is a fantastic way to help you body welcome a new year. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, you can make it to the refrigerator.

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