Fermented, fizzy kombucha now flowing fresh from Del Mar and Carmel Valley taps


With plenty of probiotics, kombucha is growing in popularity. And thanks to San Diego County-based company Kombucha on Tap, health-conscious locals can now find the fermented tea fresh from the tap rather than straight from a bottle.

“It tastes good and it’s good for you,” said owner Deanne Gustafson.

Naturally rich in probiotics and special cleansing acids, kombucha can aid digestion and boost immunity. Live, raw and gluten-free, the fizzy tea helped Gustafson kick her sugary soda habits three years ago.

“When I don’t drink it for a day, I can tell the difference,” said Gustafson, an Encinitas native and La Costa Canyon High School alumna. “Your body needs probiotics; we just don’t get enough of them. This is a great way to get it into your system.”

Already a kombucha drinker, Gustafson discovered the tea on tap during a trip to Oregon with her now-husband and business partner, Jared Gustafson, in April 2013.

“It was on tap every single place we went,” Gustafson recalled. “It was at every restaurant, every bar — even the gas stations had kombucha on tap.”

Because the healthy lifestyle in Oregon was similar to the healthy lifestyle in San Diego, the couple decided to bring the concept to the region, establishing Kombucha on Tap at the start of 2014. Since then, the company has contracted with five manufacturers, including GT’s Kombucha, the nation’s largest manufacturer of kombucha.

With its connections, Kombucha on Tap has brought the drink to more than 30 locations in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties.

“It’s really taken off,” said Gustafson, who served kombucha at her fall wedding. The couple also have kombucha on tap in their Oceanside home. “Every week, we get new clients.”

Stratford Court Café became the first Del Mar restaurant to offer kombucha on tap in August 2014. Urban Plates at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center started serving kombucha fresh from the keg soon after.

Kombucha will soon be available on tap at four more locations, including GoodOnYa, which is set to open in the spring in Encinitas.

While some places simply offer a variety of flavors, others offer “kombucha floats,” pairing kombucha with ice cream, or “kombucha cocktails,” mixing the drink with alcohol. Some breweries, including Oceanside Ale Works, combine kombucha with craft beer, creating “Beerbuchas.”

No matter how it’s served, kombucha on tap helps businesses cut costs and help the environment because kegs are refillable and sustainable, Gustafson said.

“It also offers customers a fresher, better-tasting product,” she said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

For more about Kombucha on Tap, including a list of locations where the drink is available, visit www.kombuchaontap.net.