One local man has turned his passion for kombucha into a product whose popularity is growing at a substantial rate, especially considering it’s only been on shelves since August.
Michael Iannarino, founder of Luna Kombucha, began having digestive problems five years ago. After doing a little Internet research, he discovered that kombucha −an effervescent tea-based beverage− could be a cure. He began drinking kombucha regularly and, sure enough, his digestive issues were eventually corrected.
As an experienced winemaker, he felt confident he could successfully brew kombucha, which can be made at home by fermenting tea using a mass of yeast and bacteria.
“Over time I kept on tweaking the recipe and process, and was happy with the end product,” he says. “Other kombucha drinkers would tell me that it was the best they have ever had, so that is why we started.”
The first case of Luna Kombucha was sold at Weiland’s Gourmet Market. Today, it’s also sold at Studio 35, Europia Gourmet Foods, Giant Eagle, Pace-High Carryout and Till Dynamic Fare, and will soon be available at Grandview Theatre and the Arena Grand Movie Theatre. Iannarino is in talks with Hal and Al’s, Raisin Rack, and Explorers Club.
Unlike many kombuchas on the market, Luna is non-pasteurized.
“Most nationals kill the yeast bacteria to keep alcohol levels below .5 percent,” Iannarino says. “We have a brewer’s permit and you must be 21 to buy Luna.”
He describes Luna as “slightly sweet with a lot of carbonation, like champagne.” It’s available in two flavors −Black Raspberry and Kiwi Strawberry− and a third flavor −Black Cherry− will be added in the spring.
Iannarino’s yoga instructors have been his primary “taste guinea pigs,” he says.
Thus far, Luna sales have been strong, which he attributes to the beverage’s traditional kombucha formulation. The fact that consumers generally think it tastes great doesn’t hurt either.
“When we do tastings, it make us feel good for non-kombucha drinkers to try it and love it,” he says.
Iannarino makes a conscious effort to use regional vendors and service providers whenever possible, including Mrs. Miller’s Jams & Jellies of Fredricksburg, L.D Carlson of Kent for bottles and equipment, and Columbus-based Fulcrum Creatives for marketing.
“We need to promote our small to mid-size Ohio businesses,” he says. “This also saves resources and the environment due to more efficient logistics.”
To learn more about Luna Kombucha, visit LunaKombucha.com.
Photo of Michael Iannarino provided by Chris Walker Photography. Chris Walker works as a on-location commercial photographer working with cooperate, advertising, and editorial clients. If you would like to connect with Chris Walker Photography, email [email protected], or visit CWalkerPhotography.com.