kombuchaAre you drinking kombucha? Among my friends, it’s becoming all the rage. Kombucha is a tea-based drink that has been fermented and is effervescent. Many varieties of kombucha are available these days at stores like Whole Foods and Rainbow Grocery. While not proven, many tout health benefits such as liver detoxification, better digestion, increased blood circulation, and a general boost to the immune system. I personally like kombucha because I like the flavor — with its fermented qualities, kombucha reminds me of an alcohol-based drink without the alcohol.

Last week, I had the chance to taste a great kombucha that is being produced locally: Lev’s Original Kombucha. Lev Kilun is making kombucha-on-tap in carefully created small batches. He sources his ingredients with intention, starting with a green tea that is chosen for its flavor. “You can’t make good wine from bad grapes,” he says, explaining that the same is true for kombucha.

Contrary to what I learned, Lev says that kombucha is not a mushroom-based drink. Instead it is fermented with a mother — similar to vinegars. Lev says that the Russian word describing a mother is close to the word for mushroom, so the misinterpretation began the myth.

Lev’s Kombucha is available in two flavors: black currant and original. You can try it at Cafe Lyon in Rockridge, Power Source Cafe in the San Francisco Financial District, or eight other locations around the Bay Area.

Cafe Lyon
5701 College Ave
(510) 547-0800

Power Source Cafe
81 Fremont Street (at Mission)
(415) 896-1312

Lev's Original Kombucha 19 November,2008Jennifer Maiser

  • A friend of mine was one of the pioneers of this trend in the early 90s, harvesting and peddling Kombucha tea to all of the health food stores in L.A. His kitchen was full of fermenting “mothers” and you could smell it the second he opened the front door.

    I’m actually surprised people are still drinking it, let alone appreciating it merely for the flavor. Sounds like it has come a long way since its humble beginnings, with flavors and everything. Neato.

    Thanks for sharing.


    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • Jennifer –

    Is it possible to have the Cafe Lyon link go to its website instead of the Yelp! site? Thanks!


    Harry Marshall

  • Dear Kombucha Drinkers,

    I would like to update your taste buds…

    We now have more than 8 locations and, Cafe Lyon is now focusing on wine and does not serve kombucha.

    Check out our facebook and twitter pages for information on promotions, parties, and new locations serving our kombucha on tap and in bottles.

    As of today, the newest locations you can find our Lev’s Original being served are:

    – Farm Fresh To You juice bar in the SF Ferry Building (on tap and in bottles)

    – Sidewalk Juice on 3287 21st St @ Valencia, SF (on tap)

    – lululemon Cow Hollow 1981 Union St, SF (FREE! every Wednesday night!

    Drink to your health!
    – Nabolom in Berkeley 2708 Russell St. @ College Ave. (on tap)


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor