Kombucha Dog is one of those “only in California live-your-passion” stories. According to the Kombucha Dog website, the beverage company was started in L.A. by Michael Faye, a successful commercial photographer who loved traveling the world on assignment, until he found that the photo business was beginning to require spending more time on the computer than on location. That’s when Faye sold his studio and set up DogIsArt, a dog portraiture business, combining his avid love of dogs with his professional talent.
The kombucha link comes in because Faye, who was raised as a strict vegetarian by a mother who even made her own yogurt, was strongly into the raw food movement and yoga. An early adopter of kombucha, Faye started drinking the fermented tea back in 2005, but had to stop when actress Lindsey Lohan failed an alcohol test. Lohan’s attorneys launched a “kombucha defense” saying that drinking lots of kombucha caused a false positive on the test. The controversy caused L.A. retailers to pull kombucha from the shelves, forcing Faye to experiment with brewing his own.
Fast-forward to the present. Faye decides to market a commercial line of his flavored kombucha to L.A. area stores, and feature homeless dogs he photographed on the label to try to find them a home – kind of like putting photos of missing kids on milk cartons. So far more than 30 dogs have been adopted, thanks to being featured on Kombucha Dog packaging.
Actually, I knew about kombucha decades before it became trendy. Back in the 1970s, my mother and her friends made their own kombucha in Mason canning jars. The ingredients called for tea mixed with a little sugar and a dollop of bacteria and yeast on top. The bacteria and yeast would grow like a mushroom into a live colony that gave the liquid a slightly fizzy, vinegary taste. At that point, it was ready to drink, and according to Mom and her friends, it was a wonderful probiotic that did everything from aid digestion to warding off cancer. For a while kombucha mushroom tea on ice was all the rage among elderly Japanese American ladies in California. Then the fad fizzled out. It’s nice to see that kombucha is making a comeback – and finding new fans.