Neu Kombucha Expands in Farmington
Jennie Neu-Sipkay first began making kombucha tea while working at the Cacao Tree Café in Royal Oak. Always a healthy eater, she was immediately drawn to the unique flavors, nutritional properties and probiotic content of kombucha.
“I went to nursing school for a while and I really liked helping people get healthier and improve their digestion,” she says.
Neu-Sipkay explains that kombucha is a fermented tea that originated in the Far East and contains a mix of cultures of bacteria and yeast. Caffeine, tannins and sugar convert into beneficial properties, B and C vitamins and probiotics, which are helpful for good digestion.
While at the café, she studied the fermentation process and experimented with flavoring. “My husband thought the tea was so delicious, and we started thinking that we should consider bottling it,” she says. “The Cacao Tree thought it was a great idea, too.”
Jennie, her husband, Julius, and her father, Doug, worked together to create their own brand and labels, calling it Neu Kombucha. They began with 50 bottles a week, which they sold at the Cacao Tree and at the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market. “Since then, we have been growing in leaps and bounds,” says Neu-Sipkay. “Now were up to 900 bottles a week.”
They moved their production facility to Farmington, where they have a store with a walk-up window and a counter where customers can purchase kombucha on draft, in bottles or in growlers. They also began selling their product at Eastern Market and wholesale to 30 retail spots across the region.
“We’re a family business. My dad retired, but now he works every day in our business and my husband works at Ford, but he helps with bottling and goes to Eastern Market on Saturdays,” she says.
Neu-Sipkay makes fresh batches of kombucha every week with a 17-day ferment of different flavors, including: Plain, Lavender Lemonade, Tart Cherry Ginseng, Turmeric Ginger, Pineapple Ginger, Root Beer and Super Berry. In the colder months, she also offers Cranberry and in the summer months, she makes a cold-brew coffee. Regularly, Neu-Sipkay comes up with new flavors for people to try on draft, such as Beet Lemon and Orange Cardamom.
“Our ingredients are pure and simple,” she says. “Fruit juices, roots, turmeric and ginger, all really basic. Everything we include in our bottles is organic or wild sourced.”
At the farmers’ market and store, Jennie offers samples for customers to experience the different flavors. “To explain it to new customers, we compare it to yogurt and sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. We tell people that it’s naturally effervescent, like a healthy soda. Some of our teas are sweeter and some are more traditional. The sweeter ones are good for the palate of people that aren’t used to it.”
“We have a loyal following of regular customers, too. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly. It’s so great to talk with people who have a common base of understanding about health and kombucha.”
Find out more at Neu Kombucha