Kombucha: A Passion to Live Green

We’ve got a lot of fascinating Greenwise clients, many of whom work hard in their effort to live a green lifestyle. Regina Sant’Anna and her husband, Doug Skites, are no exception. Three years ago, they made a radical life change. Doug went from working in the commodities market to working at the farmer’s market, and Regina stepped up to help grow their business.

Both found themselves at a stage in their lives where they could freely follow their passion of brewing kombucha. In 2016, they opened their own tap room in Evanston, called Kombucha Brava.

I was lucky enough to meet with them and get a taste of their latest creations. Michelle, our wonderful admin manager, has already held two weekly tastings for our Greenwise team. I think we’ve created some kombucha converts!

Similarities between Kombucha and Organic Lawn Care

Did you know a parallel exists between creating kombucha and organic lawn care? According to Doug, just as organic lawn care allows for less space for weeds, the same is true for the gut. Ingesting good bacteria leaves less room for bad bacteria.

But, first things first. For those of you who haven’t caught on to the kombucha craze, kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years, making its way to us from China. It’s a fermented drink brewed with tea, sugar and a SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). It’s touted as having a lot of health benefits, including being a great source of probiotics.

A few years ago, Doug was experiencing some unpleasant digestive issues. One day, when he wasn’t feeling great, he happened to be in Hewn and picked up a bottle of kombucha. He drank it and remembers feeling remarkably better by the time he walked out the door.

As a previous crafter of beer, Doug knew a little something about brewing, and soon started to brew his own kombucha. “It’s in my nature to enjoy making things, cooking, and being methodical about it,” he explained. That was three years ago, and now he and Regina have opened their own tap room with an amazing and regularly changing selection of five or six flavors each week. This past week, I tried two delicious flavors: Smoked Cherry and Turmeric, Lemon and Ginger with Pepper.

kombucha selection

Kombucha Brava always changes its flavor offerings

“Doug goes out of his way to buy specific organic products, often running to local specialty shops for just the right ingredient, such as the Spice Shop in Evanston for a particular high-quality spice he can’t find elsewhere,” said Regina.

Living Green in All Aspects of Their Lives

Regina and Doug focus on different ways of living green in all aspects of their lives. “Doug pays attention to our water usage and I focus on using as little plastic as possible,” Regina said.

For example, they don’t use plastic containers for fermenting their kombucha, they use re-purposed oak barrels from FEW Spirits, an Evanston gin and whiskey distiller. “The oak barrels give our kombucha a great flavor and plus provide an optimal habitat for the SCOBYs,” Doug says.

They avoid single-use plastics; in fact, if you see a plastic bin in their store, it’s definitely one that has been around for a long time and has had several past lives.
Regina avoids serving tastes of kombucha in plastic cups, even if they are compostable, and instead uses a mixed assortment of small glasses that she found at Secret Treasures, an Evanston antique store. And, when you purchase your kombucha in one of their howlers or growlers, you get a discount if you bring it back for a refill. In fact, bring them any container and they’ll happily refill it.

Both are extremely conscientious about how much energy they consume, and they worked closely with their landlord and friend to build out a space that used the least amount of energy, while keeping the space fun and creative.

They compost everything and even use Who Gives a Crap for their toilet paper (no trees involved). “We strive to be green and zero waste (we still drive cars, fly and are not completely plastic free in our home). We are learning and educating ourselves in ways to improve our practices. It is a journey,” said Doug.

Why Greenwise?

“We chose Greenwise because we wanted our lawn to reflect our values. It’s hard to find a lawn care company that will take care of your lawn without using any chemicals. Lightening our footprint is important in all steps of our lives, and our outdoor space is no different,” said Doug.

Besides their tap room at 717 Custer Avenue, you can find their kombucha at the Evanston Farmer’s Market in the summers, and served at local Evanston establishments, such as Found, La Principal, Sketchbook, and Patty2 at Northwestern University. They hope to also be at the Logan Square farmer’s market this summer.

“We experienced a new layer of Evanston businesses coming together to root for and support each other. It’s been really cool to be embraced this way,” said Regina.

We are grateful to have Greenwise clients like Regina and Doug who care so much about the environment and live a truly green lifestyle, and are making a difference in our local community. Do you have a greenwise story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it–just send us an email.

people tasting kombucha

We ran into Andy, our turf technician, during our Saturday tasting of kombucha!

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