Maui Kombucha: All You Need is Lovelovelove
By Vanessa Wolf
- Kombucha – a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened tea that most likely originated in China before spreading to Russia in the early 1900s.
- Lovelovelove – a listed ingredient in several Maui Kombucha food items
- SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast
A little after the turn of the century, a co-worker gifted us with a freaky slime pancake and a new hobby was born.
Soon thereafter, our basement was bustling with several gallon-sized jars of a tart, sweet, fizzy, vinegar-esque bacteria-fueled beverage we thought was made from a mushroom.
Long story short, after realizing the alleged magical health elixir was packing a notable booze-y punch (coupled with the full wall-to-wall explosion of a friend’s jars), we retired our SCOBY.
Recognizing the Potential for Untold Riches that Has, Once Again, Slipped Through Our Fingers
What do you mean we could have made a fortune off the stuff?
Now, a decade or so later, kombucha is something of a feverish craze all across the country, right up there with kale, Greek yogurt and hating on gluten.
You can find it bottled at the grocery store and even on tap in a variety of locations.
Yes, you can make it in your basement, but why bother when Maui Kombucha is brewing up so many creative flavors, all kinds of things can go horribly wrong if you do it yourself, and you have all that cash to burn?
Drinking the Kool Aid
The kombucha itself is outside our critical métier.
If memory serves, the flavor is lighter and brighter than our more vinegary, pungent home brew.
Recipes feature black or white tea booch bases with fresh fruit juice or hydrofoils added to the finished product.
We don’t know nothing ’bout no fancy booch making – we’re probably lucky we didn’t inadvertently kill ourselves back in our own fermentation heyday – but the Black Mango and Ginger Lime flavors were bright and pleasing.
The stuff ain’t cheap, but if it’s fizzy, vinegary, sweet probiotic water you’re after, this is likely a holy grail.
The vibe at Maui Kombucha is one of local watering hole, with every third customer greeted like a long-lost soldier returning from war.
Despite the preponderance of regulars, service is warm and welcoming. You almost hate to leave.
What Kind of Food Goes with Beverages Made From Symbiotic Colonies of Yeast and Bacteria?
We had the same one ourselves, and decided to start our search for answers with the Bagel Sandwich ($8.50).
Oy, veh. This is so strange, yet so good.
First off, it looks like a bagel with lox, but it’s actually some kind of voodoo veggie magic.
Cashew cheese is spread upon a raw, dehydrated everything bagel that honestly tastes a lot like a regular everything bagel.
We’re really not sure what this is made from – nuts? carrots? fairy dust? – but topped with fresh avocado slices, tomato, sprouts, capers and black salt it’s vibrant, fresh and truly delicious.
The fact that it’s raw and- presumably – quite healthy for you? Even better.
I Never Met a Pizza Like You Before
We also tried the Pizza ($12).
Although choose-your-own-toppings options are available, we snagged the daily special, featuring smoked pine nut gouda “cheeze” with caramelized onion compote, eggplant bacon and arugula.
Would your average five-year old declare the flavor combination that of pizza?
Not on your life.
Raw cuisine rarely doubles as a knockoff for the non-raw foodstuffs for which it is named and this is one of those instances.
The “pizza” tastes more like a thick, crisp cracker topped with a rich, zesty spread and intermingled with the flavors of pungent sundried tomatoes, peppery arugula, and sweet caramelized onions.
It doesn’t really taste like pizza, but the intense combination of flavors do somehow vaguely evoke pizza and are replete with hippy dippy deliciousness.
Where’s the Beef?
The MK Veggie Burger will set you back seven bucks.
If you’re expecting a regular burger well… Give us a break. The bun is a giant leaf for Pete’s sake.
Still, the burger is dark and meaty looking and the flavors earthy and substantial.
Combined with the “cheese,” tomatoes, pickled cucumber, sprouts and avocado slices, it must weigh a pound and a half.
And it’s tasty.
Yes, in a quirky, healthy, filling, “make sure you have enough toilet paper at home because this thing is wrapped in a raw collard green” kind of way, but still good.
Leave your expectations at the door and embrace it for what it is: Good, clean, hearty raw burger magic.
For all the work that probably went into this thing, seven dollars feels like a steal.
Forget Love. We’d Rather Fall in Chocolate.
Enter the Kundalini Bar ($5).
It’s like a raw, gourmet Mounds Bar with an unexpected – and unexpectedly delightful – salty finish.
Made with raw cacao, cashews, coconut, macadamia nuts and lovelovelove, just try not to close your eyes as your taste buds get a load of this wonderment.
In other news, the Coconut Lime Pie is eight dollars.
For a piece of pie.
But not just any piece of pie, but a piece of culinary raw cookery pie wizardry so amazing it’s worth every red cent.
Rich, creamy and perfectly tart, it’s like a coconut cream and key lime pie had an all-natural, raw foodie, booch-drinking baby and she’s making eyes at you.
Resistance is Futile
Initially dubious about the all-vegan and mostly raw cuisine, we were won over by the unique and delicious fare.
If love love loving Maui Kombucha is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Maui Kombucha is located at 810 Kokomo Road in Haiku. They are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.