Favored Life Kombucha Bar in Soda City
I’ll be honest - I can’t quite call myself a kombucha aficionado…. I’ve tried it once or twice in an attempt to find a healthier alternative to soda; typically, I’d grab a bottle with my meal at Whole Foods. Each time, I’d meet with utter disappointment. The stuff tasted much like vinegar and I could hardly get through the bottle.
But recently, on a Friday, I woke up with an intense kombucha craving. I was not sure where it came from or why - all I knew is that I wanted some kombucha! Strange, right? So I decided to scratch that itch. Curiously enough, that was the moment when I remembered reading something about a new kombucha place in Five Points. I looked it up to find out where it was exactly, and without much further deliberation, drove there.
Located on Santee Avenue - a street that branches off Harden, connecting it to Blossom in the heart of Five Points and is marked by the Hootie & the Blowfish statue - Favored Life Kombucha Bar is a cozy spot with actual bar seating, a few tables with chairs, several cushioned armchairs & a sofa. There is bottled kombucha in the fridge and kombucha on tap. Customers can purchase a “sampler” to try all 4 flavors on tap, or purchase a growler - which, when brought back, can be refilled for half the price of what it originally costs to buy it.
I ordered a serving of the Blueberry Grape kombucha. Landing at one of the tables with my journal and a book on mindfulness, I took the first sip… Surprised, I took another, and another, until about half of the kombucha within the mason jar was gone. It tasted DELICIOUS! Refreshing, flavorful, with just the right "kick” to it - I couldn’t believe how much better it was than anything I have previously tried at Whole Foods or anywhere else. So I drank all of it pretty fast and went back to get another serving.
A week later, I met with the owner, Kinya Gramblin, to find out how she started the business, how she makes her kombucha, and what is her vision for the future of the company.
She told me that her discovery of kombucha was an accident. She went on a trip with her church, and didn’t have that big of a budget. But she had just enough to try a new drink - which happened to be kombucha made at a local brewery. It was love from the first sip… She liked the drink so much that she realized it was her calling to make it back home in South Carolina.
She began making it at her place, and friends began placing orders with her. Soon, she was up to full capacity, and confessed that her home was beginning to become unmanageable. One time, having received double the order that she placed with the bottling company - and with the company telling her to keep it - she realized that it was time to expand.
Kinya found investors that helped her get a location in Five Points, and within two months bought them out, allowing her to have full ownership of her business and complete control over the direction of her company. She shared with me that she absolutely LOVES Five Points and the energy of the neighborhood. Since opening in November, she has been able to break even - which is quite an achievement for someone who starts out as a small business entrepreneur.
Kinya has a true passion for making her product, and her sights are set high. She wants to expand and told me that she is already capable of meeting a higher capacity and is prepared to start hiring help along with growth and expansion of her business.
I wanted to find out more about the process. There was definitely something very, VERY special about the Favored Life Kombucha, and I just knew the secret had to be in the way it was made. Kinya explained that the process involves two main steps - fermentation using the tea mushroom (otherwise known as Manchurian mushroom) that lasts 7-14 days, and flavoring that lasts 2-3 days. “But would you say there was something different that you do that sets you apart from other brewers?” - I insisted, following my instinct. Turns out, Kinya plays Gospel music during the fermentation process, and she believes that it makes a big difference. “They’re alive, you know!” - she said, referring to the mushrooms - “My faith played a big role in my discovery of this calling, and so I make it part of the process. This is reflected in the name of my business, too.”
Kinya stays humble and present, facing challenges of running a business day in and day out. Her vision, however, is quite ambitious. She told me that she has been looking at bigger spaces for future expansion - and right after sharing that, she almost retreated, saying she doesn’t want to get ahead of herself. I encouraged her to dream big; we both agreed that focusing on the big vision will take you much farther than only keeping your sights on what’s currently in front of you.
If you haven’t tried the Favored Life Kombucha yet, this is your cue. Speaking from personal experience, I promise you - it will taste infinitely better than anything you have ever bought at the store.