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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Drink Up: Raw Honey Kombucha From Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 4:01 PM

click to enlarge Raw honey kombucha, aka Jun, from APIS Honey Kombucha - APIS HONEY KOMBUCHA
  • APIS Honey Kombucha
  • Raw honey kombucha, aka Jun, from APIS Honey Kombucha
At the season's last Farm to Pizza night at Golden Well Farm & Apiaries in New Haven, farm cofounders Ryan Miller and Nicole Burke turned a couple of pizzas in the belly of a domed clay oven. A pie emerged from the wood-fired furnace, the charred edges peeking out behind layers of heirloom tomato sauce, leeks, apples, butternut squash and spiced merguez from Shakeyground Farm.

Miller was pulling drafts from two chilled kegs by the pizza oven, but the taps weren’t filled with Vermont craft beer. Instead, they brimmed with a fermented drink known as “Jun,” made and sold by the Golden Well farmers under the name APIS Honey Kombucha.

Kombucha is traditionally made by fermenting green or black tea with a “symbiotic colony of bacteria or yeast” — also known as SCOBY — and granulated sugar, which is added to the brew to aid the fermentation process. The result is a lightly carbonated drink rife with probiotics, those helpful microbes touted to boost immunity and support a hearty digestive system.

Jun is kombucha’s fraternal twin; it feeds on raw honey instead of concentrated sugar. As raw honey carries its own antimicrobial system, explained Miller, Jun also uses a specific type of “Jun SCOBY” to handle the honey’s unfiltered ecosystem.

Miller and Burke craft APIS Honey Kombucha (dubbed kombucha as it's more recognizable than Jun) with raw honey gleaned from the hives at Golden Well Farm. Addison County neighbor Kirk Webster, the beekeeping guru at Champlain Valley Bees and Queens, contributes honey, as well. Tea leaves are sourced from Stone Leaf Teahouse in Middlebury. The couple then ferments the brew with seasonal Vermont produce for flavors including cherry-tarragon, lemon verbena, crabapple and local ginger. Since raw honey doesn’t administer carbonation quite like sugar, the APIS duo finishes the brewing process with a stream of CO2.

The resulting honey kombucha is sparkling and gently sour, a taste more akin to a lightly funky ale than a probiotic health tonic. A cold draft of APIS’ cherry-tarragon kombucha is light and tart, complementing a slice of merguez and butternut pizza without overwhelming it with sweetness. (My stomach's simultaneous offering of probiotics and pizza felt like a double success.)

APIS Honey Kombucha is on draft for glasses and growler fills at the Old Brick Store and Vergennes Laundry, with a slot planned for Winooski’s upcoming Commodities Market as well.

Those driving by Golden Well's farmstand at 1089 River Road can pull a few filled growlers from the onsite cooler on Saturdays and Sundays.  The farm's colonies of Apis mellifera — that is, honeybees — will be humming in the sweet craters of their nearby hives. 

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Julia Clancy

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Julia Clancy is a local chef and Seven Days food writer.

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