Ku Cha’s New Ready-To-Drink Iced Teas and Kombuchas: Ready for Summer!
Iced tea is a year-round kind of drink. We love it with rich autumn meals. After a few hours in the garden in April. While sitting on a bench up at Brainard Lake at the halfway point of a snowshoe tour.
But iced tea’s charms grow especially keen as the days warm and lengthen.
Iced tea and barbecue at a backyard cookout? Perfect. We sip iced tea in the kitchen on a hot day, with a Rockies game in the background and stir-fried chicken in the wok. Iced tea pulled from a cooler packed with ice after a trail run, and then slugged back while standing in the dirt parking lot, is highly recommended.
For the longest time, all of the above iced tea activities revolved around our own homemade iced tea. The stuff in bottles and cans and available in convenience stores and supermarkets involves dismal tea. Too often, it’s stems and stale leaves swept up from the floors of huge tea processing factories. To mask the tea’s bitter, poor flavor, brands saturate the beverages with artificial flavors (gross simulacrums of lemon, mint and mango, for example) and sweeteners.
As importers and merchants of fine, artisanal tea, this was simply unacceptable. Dreck!
Bad commercial iced tea compelled Ku Cha into ready to drink
So towards the end of last summer, during the height of the pandemic, we found a commercial co-packing space and began experimenting brewing ready to drink beverages. We used our trusty, well-tested iced tea recipes as guides. But we ventured far from those original formulas.
After months of R&D and extensive tweaking, we arrived on winners — ready-to-drink iced teas that reflect the glories of our whole-leaf teas. These products are free from all preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and sweeteners. Just glorious brewed tea.
Meanwhile, as kombucha relies on interactions between sugars, yeast and natural compounds found in tea, Qin began home-brewing our own kombuchas using Ku Cha whole-leaf teas. Just as our iced teas served as spectacular showcases for the artisanal products we import from around the world, so did Qin’s kombuchas. As a result, we began canning Qin’s kombuchas as well, each of which reflects a different style of tea.
At first, we sold our ready-to-drink teas only through our stores in Boulder, Cherry Creek and Fort Collins. But as we offered samples to restaurants, coffee shops and markets, buyers responded with enthusiasm, and began ordering cases of our products.
Now, you can find Ku Cha ready-t- drink iced teas and kombuchas in outlets up and down the Front Range.
Ku Cha Ready to Drink Iced Tea and Kombucha Outlets
- Lucky’s Market (Boulder and Fort Collins)
- Cured (Boulder)
- Lolita’s (Boulder)
- Pacific Mercantile (Denver)
- FoCo Food Coop (Fort Collins)
Restaurants & Cafes:
- Ginger Pig Restaurant (Denver)
- Bao Brew House (Denver)
- Hunter Bay (Arvada)
- Blofish (Boulder)
- Pig & Tiger (Boulder)
- Fuji Café (Boulder)
- Fresh Thymes Eatery (Boulder)
- Ozo Coffee (5 cafes in Boulder and Longmont)
As we march towards Memorial Day — the official kick-off of summer — look for our iced teas and kombuchas at your favorite spots, as well as your favorite tea shops (Ku Cha, naturally). In addition, all of our beverages are available for online purchase.
Let’s explore Ku Cha’s line of delicious, thirst-quenching, healthy, unique iced teas and kombuchas.
This is based on one of our favorite whole-leaf teas, Golden Monkey, from China’s Fujian Province. The region, just across from the Taiwan Strait and the island of Taiwan, is one of the world’s most important tea growing areas. Among other things, it is considered the birthplace of oolong.
Golden Monkey is a black tea with elongated, twisty leaves broadcasting colors of black and gold. When brewed, Golden Monkey is a deep golden-amber color. With a rich chocolate aroma, malty mouthfeel and perfect balance of bitter and sweet, we think it one of the best teas in the world for iced tea. If you want to try a black iced tea — most iced teas are based on black tea — this is an excellent choice. Only when you drink Golden Monkey you’ll savor complexity, beauty and pleasure, rather than … dreck!
Many commercial iced teas use artificial flavors to mask the poor quality of the tea. Our Jasmine Oolong, on the other hand, combines superb oolong tea with the natural perfumes and flavors that come with fresh, evening-harvested jasmine blossoms. Nothing artificial about that.
Crafting jasmine oolong tea in China is an ancient practice. After harvesting tea leaves, tea farmers encourage enough oxidation to turn the green tea into oolong. Then they incorporate jasmine blossoms, which only open during the night, into the tea during successive evenings. After at least seven additions of blossoms, the tea is ready to package and ship to tea importers like Ku Cha.
As iced tea, jasmine oolong is ambrosial. It combines the balanced nuances of oolong with tantalizing floral aroma and flavor. We think it’s perfect for many occasions, including backyard barbecue. The floral parts cut through the fatty barbecue and add another layer of flavor to smoked brisket, chicken or ribs.
Many iced tea fans prefer the addition of fruity flavors to their favorite beverage. We bypass fake mint and mango. We skip faux lemon. Ku Cha would never even consider adding some chemical rendition of raspberry flavor to a tea. But we, too, sometimes like a little bit of fruit in our iced tea.
As we experimented with fruit teas, we tried different styles from our collection of natural fruit teas. With the first sip of our Summer Tranquility, we stopped messing around. This whole-leaf tea yielded the most superb fruit tea we had ever tasted.
The tea itself is white tea, which is the least oxidized of teas other than greens. This tea is subtle and satisfying, with whispers of honey. And then we infused the whole-leaf white tea with natural peach and apricot. When brewed hot, it is a favorite. Iced, it’s superb. Quaffable. The kind of cold beverage you want to glug all afternoon on a warm day.
Cherry is such a wonderful and versatile flavor. It pairs majestically with many savory dishes, for example, including roast duck. It rarely overpowers, like fruits such as banana and papaya. Instead, it often complements whatever it butts up against. Almond and cherry flavors, for example, are classic in baking.
This stands as another fruit tea that we adored from the first sip. The tea is a blend of superb Japanese green teas, which stand apart from Chinese green teas for their more herbal and grassy profiles. To this we add cherry blossoms and dried piece of fruit. The combination sings when brewed hot. When iced, it sings with even more finesse.
Lemon Blossom Kombucha
We love kombucha for its health-promoting properties, its bracing tang, and the way in which it so deeply satisfies thirst and even hunger. Somehow, a glass of kombucha helps keep appetite at bay. Maybe that’s because of all of the gut-fortifying microbes that kombucha offers. Every day we hear more about the importance of an important gut biome. Kombucha can serve as a key assistant!
Our whole-leaf lemon blossom tea is based on a Chinese oolong that is blended with tea and heather flowers. The tea provides the backbone. The lemon lashes the tea with bright flavors. And the heather infuses it with subtle floral perfumes and flavors.
Brewed as hot tea, our lemon oolong is always satisfying. When transformed into kombucha, it’s absolutely wonderful.
Sakura Cherry Kombucha
We understood the glories of sakura cherry tea long before we turned it into iced tea, and then kombucha. We routinely brewed it at home, and sold it an abundance in the stores. The blend of classic Japanese teas and cherry blossoms and dried cherry pieces betrayed a certain magic.
As we played with different teas for kombucha, some were duds, others just adequate. Our whole-leaf sakura cherry kombucha won us over immediately. This tea ferments into an arresting kombucha, shot through with cherry flavors and green tea’s herbal qualities.
Fruit flavors and herbs dominate the kombucha market. We wondered if a profoundly floral whole-leaf tea would produce beautiful kombucha. Given our love for jasmine tea — it was among the first teas we turned into iced tea — this was an early candidate for kombucha.
The test worked splendidly. Now, jasmine is one of our signature kombucha flavors. The jasmine’s flower power melds in outstanding fashion with the oolong tea from Fujian province and kombucha’s fermentation process. As with all kombuchas, it offers a certain funkiness that we champion. Given kombucha’s wild popularity, we aren’t alone. And then it enlivens kombucha’s funk with complex oolong and alluring jasmine blossoms.