Not your average tea: The Favored Life Kombucha Bar opens in Columbia

Owner Kinya Gramblin pours a cup of mango peach kombucha from one of the four taps. Karamie Sullivan photos.

Kinya Gramblin has recently embarked on an unanticipated business venture that involves patience, creativity, and a whole lot of tea.

She was first introduced to kombucha tea while on a church convention in Denver last July. Gramblin said she loved the way it tasted, but was disheartened when she found out that company’s product was not available in South Carolina.

Unhappy with the types of kombucha options she discovered locally, Gramblin decided to learn how to make her own. “I started making it in my house for myself, then my mom tasted it and was like ‘make me some,’ and it’s just kept growing,” she said.

For those who are unfamiliar with the fermented drink, Gramblin described the process the tea undergoes to become kombucha:  “First you start with sweet tea, and you put it in a fermentation jar. I use a ‘scoby,’ which [stands for] a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast – you have to grow it,” she said. “You stick them inside the gallon jar, and that eats the sugar out of the sweet tea, and outputs CO2. It takes all the sweetness out and replaces it with that fizzy taste.”  She then removes the scoby, strains the liquid, and adds flavor with organic juices. The whole process takes approximately two weeks.

As Gramblin continued to make more kombucha in her house, she said she ordered a shipment of bottles, and the company accidentally sent her a double order. “Which that was awesome, but I just had nowhere to put it,” she laughed. “So I needed a store. Then I had a friend on Facebook contact me saying they’d like to invest, and that’s how we got here.”

The benefits of drinking kombucha, Gramblin said, have been obvious for her. “It helps with anxiety, and I have really bad panic attacks. I guess when you introduce good bacteria into your body, it kind of counteracts the bad,” she said. Other benefits Gramblin mentioned include natural energy boosts, and appetite suppression.

The fermentation does cause the kombucha to become ever-so-slightly alcoholic. However, no ID is required to buy the drink due to the extremely low level. “Yeah, it’s the same amount of alcohol as you find in sauerkraut,” she laughed.

Gramblin said it was an easy decision to name her new business The Favored Life, because that is what she considers to be the “tagline” of her life. “All along, you could see God’s hand in it, through the whole thing. ‘The favored life’ has always been about God’s grace and favor in my life,” she explained.

Some of Gramblin’s kombucha flavors include acai, soursop strawberry, elderberry, blueberry grape, orange mango pineapple, black cherry, lemon ginger, and her original creation: mango peach.

Gramblin said she feels this business is just the beginning of her new career path, and plans to eventually expand into a full cafe. The sequence of events that have led her to open The Favored Life reassure Gramblin that she is moving in the right direction. “I tried kombucha for the first time last July, and it’s not even July again – and it’s already a store,” she said.

The Favored Life is located at 716 Santee Avenue in Five Points. Visit the business Facebook page for additional information.

Categories: Business, Columbia, Richland County