by Tanya Henry
“I am a pH freak,” contends Brian Igersheim, who started selling his handcrafted 16-ounce brown glass bottles of Marin Kombucha in March of this year. “The right pH and high-quality tea is everything.”
After spending more than five years in the islands overseeing quality control for the Maui Gold Pineapple Company, Igersheim moved to Corte Madera and put his chemistry and biology background to good use with his small-batch kombucha operation. Working with Fermin Alvarez at the Food Business Incubator Program offered through the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center in San Rafael, Igersheim rolled out three signature flavors: Original Oak, Pinot Sage and Apple Juniper.
“I use only high-quality, organic ingredients,” explains Igersheim, who sources his teas locally from the husband-and-wife team behind Silk Road Teas in San Rafael. The water, a critical component in brewing 200 gallons a week, is pure, reverse osmosis.
Before Igersheim moved his enterprise beyond his home kitchen, he tried to learn from other producers, but found most to be proprietary and unwilling to share their knowledge. “I’m all about transparency—I will happily give my exact recipe to anyone who wants it,” Igersheim says. His goal is to eventually have a space large enough for customers to hang out in and enjoy his non-alcoholic brew in a communal and open setting.
Igersheim’s brews are unique in that he keeps the pH levels at 3 (most on the shelves are in the 2.5 and lower range). A quick chemistry lesson: Pure water has a neutral pH of 7—pH values lower than 7 are acidic, and pH values higher than 7 are alkaline. Though decidedly tart, Marin Kombucha’s unique oak-aged treatment and original non-fruity flavors add smooth notes to the brews, making them more food-friendly and accessible than many.
Not surprisingly, Igersheim has outgrown the commercial kitchen at Renaissance and will soon move to a larger space where he and his small team can continue to grow more ‘mothers’—or SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeasts) for raw, active and continuous fermentation. For now, the tasty brews can be enjoyed on tap from five-gallon kegs at local spots like Woodlands Café, Sweetwater and True North Pub & Grill, among others. Select Marin retailers also carry the attractively labeled 16-ounce bottles. Learn more at marinkombucha.com.