What is kombucha exactly? The simplest answer is “fermented tea” – a statement that rarely encourages a first time sipper to indulge in the sweet and tart flavors that the fermentation process produces. I fell in love with the drink myself when living in Seattle, one taste-bud-convincing sip at a time. The beverage was different, and I can’t lie and say that I was crazy about the stuff on day one – but as time went on I found myself using it to quench that desire for a sweet and flavorful beverage. Years ago, I remember visiting the UP from Seattle, and not being able to find Kombucha in the stores at all. However, in the last few years, the UP has gained some fantastic brewers who are changing the local culture.
Meet Alex Rowland, founder and owner of Superior Culture in Marquette, MI. This new Kombucha brewer got his start last year at the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market and his products can now be found in stores all around the area from the Marquette Food Co-op to Barrel + Beam Brewery, and it’s even on tap at Contrast Coffee. The iconic logo stands out amongst many, and the familiarity of the Lake Superior shape has residents and visitors alike reaching for a bottle.
There are a lot of things that make Superior Culture unique. One is that although you’ll always be able to grab a bottle here in Marquette, you’ll also run into Alex and his team at festivals and events all over the UP and beyond, he even spent this winter building his own refrigerated trailer to make sure customers get the most refreshing product possible on those hot summer days. Did I mention he’s only 26?
Even with the impressive growth of Superior Culture this past year, there is one thing in particular that I love the most: utilization of local products and his relationship with local producers. That’s right – you’ll find Alex shopping at the Marquette Food Co-op, perusing the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market, or ordering directly from farmers for the flavor ingredients of his brews. And his leftovers – those go to Shady Grove Farm hogs who love the bi-product of the fermentation.
Last but not least, Superior Culture stays involved, especially when it deals with Lake Superior, the inspiration for the products name. This summer the team released a new flavor: Four The Water, made with organic kiwi, lime, and Blue Majik- a spirulina extract that supports healthy joints and reduces inflammation. Proceeds from these bottle sales will support the Superior Watershed Partnership. To get an update on the Four the Water Crew’s journey around Lake Superior click here.
To get updates on upcoming events this summer where you can find Superior Culture, like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. If you are passing through Marquette, be sure to visit one of the many establishments serving their flavors. And just as the label on the bottle says, remember: “Something magical lies in the culture born on [Lake Superior’s] shores…”
Alex Palzewicz is the TLD Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula. To learn more about the health benefits of this fermented beverage send her an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org