Seattle’s first kombucha brewery, CommuniTea opens the taps at 21st and Union

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CommuniTea’s Joyner (Images: CHS)

“We want to have kombucha that a babushka in Russia would recognize…”

Seattle’s first kombucha brewery and cafe has turned on the taps, albeit just a trickle so far, in the heart of the Central District. While production hums along, CommuniTea Kombucha’s 21st and Union cafe is still in its infancy. Currently, customers can buy bottled kombucha at the shop Monday-Friday (closed weekends) from 10 AM-5 PM. Kombucha is currently served in the cafe from 3 PM-5 PM at $3 per six-ounce glass.

Owner Christopher Joyner said the cafe will soon expand its weekday hours and open on weekends when the cafe will also start offering a small selection of fruits and cheeses. “We’ve had to go slow. This is a realistic schedule,” Joyner said.

CommuniTea showed off its new base of operations during its grand opening on April 2nd. Like its coffee and beer counterparts, CommuniTea’s interior is a mix of industrial and bar vibes. Tables and chairs, buckets and crates.

Kombucha production had already been underway at the brewery before the public-facing component opened. CommuniTea supplies several restaurants and shops with its pro-biotic rich fermented tea. The drink is also slightly alcoholic, coming in around 2% ABV, meaning Joyner had to obtain a liquor license to open the cafe.

“Our kombucha we call ‘traditional kombucha,’” he said. “We want to have kombucha that a babushka in Russia would recognize and to do it you have to allow it to have alcohol.”

Though you have to be 21 to buy a glass, anyone is welcome inside, Joyner said.

CommuniTea’s production and distribution capacity is expected to grow in the expanded space, and the mezzanine level is allowing the tea makers to let gravity to handle the work of emptying the tanks.

CHS talked with Joyner just a little more than a year ago about the company’s plans for its new Central District home. After brewing his tea for a year in a small Ballard kitchen, Joyner moved to 26th and Judkins in 2009. Pushed out by development, Joyner took the opportunity to expand CommuniTea’s production capabilities with the new brewery and tasting room.

The new CommuniTea is located in the space formerly occupied by Reel Grrls. The non-profit that trains girls to produce their own film and media moved out last year in order to put more resources into programming, according to director Nancy Chang. Reel Grrls is now based out of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Delridge.

Located next-door to Central Cinema, CommuniTea joins an eclectic block of activity that includes Hollow Earth Radio, 20/20 Cycles, Mind and Body Pilates, and Rare Medium.

CommuniTea Kombucha is open Monday-Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM at 1409 21st Ave. Visit communitea-kombucha.com for more information.

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