WALLINGFORD — Maryann Houde became interested in making kombucha after her daughter Sarah returned from working for a naturopathic doctor.
Her daughter would bring home bottles of kombucha, filling the fridge, she said.
“I was trying to figure out how to organize everything and why do you keep and bring all these bottles home,” Houde said.
She finally asked her daughter “What the hell is that?” Her daughter replied, “Kombucha.”
It was early 2021. Houde, at first, didn’t like the taste of kombucha, which is a raw, living drink made from filtered water, organic tea, pure cane sugar, and a cultured alive with bacteria and kombucha yeasts. But due to her previous experience in the wine industry, she decided to experiment and make her own kombucha with a kit she bought online.
“You just ferment the tea and you keep the pot on your counter,” Houde said. “You could see how it was transforming and fermenting and all that. My husband and (Sarah) they loved it. It was so different from what you would get in the store. He just took off.
Houde has started giving pots of the kombucha she made to friends and family who have digestive issues. After hearing how his kombucha helped people feel better, Houde wanted to start making it on a larger scale.
“I was at a point where I was at a crossroads where I had to change (career) so I dove in headfirst,” Houde said.
Houde began selling his kombucha at the Wallingford Garden Market, which took place in Doolittle Park every Saturday throughout the summer and early fall. Houde was there every week from July 23 until the market closed for the season on October 29.
“I just try to take small steps and grow slowly,” Houde said.
Market Supervisor Jon Scagnelli said SouLstice Kombucha was a nice addition to the market vendors.
“It’s a very popular item at the farmers market this year,” Scagnelli said.
The SouLstice Kombucha Brewing Company is located at 29 North Plains Highway, Suite 4. The lease for this location began June 1.
At the store, Houde added a counter and a refrigerated area for people to pick up bottles. People can return their bottles and Houde sanitizes them for reuse.
“They’re durable,” Scagnelli said. “They take their bottles back and reuse them. They put them through a sterilization process and then reuse the bottles. It’s good that they give people that option.
Each month, Houde offers a new flavor, trying to follow the seasons.
“We just made an apple cider for September and we made a cranberry orange for November, thinking about Thanksgiving and we’re working on something for December for Christmas and New Years,” Houde said.
Houde offers select flavors year-round, including Summer Triangle, made with raspberry, lemon, and ginger; Blue Moon, which is blueberry lavender; Twilight, which is butterfly pea flower and lemon, and Solstice, which is a blend of lemon, ginger and mint.
Houde’s products are also now available at the East Center Market.
“We’re looking for small boutiques, sandwich shops, health food stores, yoga studios that might want to carry it,” Houde said.
Along with that, Houde said they are collaborating with other small businesses. For Halloween, she worked with the owners of Bones and Botanicals, a cafe in Wallingford, to sell Halloween-themed kombucha drinks, such as a blackberry thyme drink.
A bottle of Houde’s kombucha costs $5.50. A pack of four costs $20, while a case costs $55. Its window is open Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Since COVID, I’ve noticed that people are looking for healthier alternatives to sodas, even alcohol. People are drinking less alcohol these days and they’re very aware of the ingredients that go into the things that they do. ‘they eat,” Houde said. “It’s just a very simple, minimal drink that people can enjoy.”