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Krazy Kombucha has made its home in Dixieland along South Florida Avenue for nearly a year, selling its locally-brewed kombucha tea with many flavors to choose from and mix. 

At the front, customers are greeted by either Wendy Johnson, a third-generation Lakelander, or her best friend, AJ Jackson, behind a glossy butcher-block bar, ready to serve their signature kombucha on tap ranging from their Mermaid Lemonade to Spirulina Mint. 

Since Johnson’s business was featured in The Lakelander in 2019, Wendy Johnson has continued her passion-driven mission of serving kombucha, serving quality products that help her customers’ gut health. 

“I believe with my background in nursing for 25 years and doing holistic nutrition, there are so many health benefits, and that’s the educational portion of my business,” Johnson said. “A lot of people don’t know that just by consuming fermented foods that there are so many health benefits to the body, to anyone.” 

Kombucha caught her attention and she saw the demand for more healthy drink options—specifically kombucha—that no one else was providing locally. Johnson started Krazy Kombucha in 2017 and is still the only kombucha distributor in Lakeland. 

Krazy Kombucha originally set up a tent every Saturday at the Downtown Lakeland Farmers Curb Market, they shared kitchens with various restaurants and, at one point, they brewed their kombucha at Catapult.  Johnson still sets up the same tent every Saturday, but much has changed in the past five years.

Johnson was looking for a place for her business to finally call home, where staff could easily control the variables that determine the condition of the kombucha they brew by the keg. 

She started talking to a realtor about available properties in Dixieland. There were many candidates, but at first none seemed to be the perfect fit.

“This particular piece came up open here, and I wasn’t even going to look at it because I thought it was too small and it wasn’t going to work,” Johnson said. “But I came and looked through the back window and was like in my gut, ‘This is it!'”

The property was a price the business owner could afford and had just the right amount of space for Krazy Kombucha to brew its signature kombucha. 

Their kombucha is brewed for three weeks and requires extensive attention to detail. The freezer, where they keep all the kegs, is one of their prized accomplishments as a business.

It’s a process that includes three stages that allow the scoby, or the fermenting bacteria in the kombucha, to consume as much of the activating sugar as possible—removing the sugary taste for the product to be healthier. 

Johnson starts off brewing tea such as green, white and black tea for the natural antioxidants. All her have the same base of this tea with less sugar in the first ferment. 

According to Johnson, other kombucha distilleries use 1 cup of sugar per gallon. Meanwhile, Krazy Kombucha has cut that amount to three-quarters of a cup while maintaining an appealing taste with tangible health benefits. 

From there, the brew ferments for 10-15 days. Johnson checks the Ph and alcohol content of the brew in large glass containers to ensure better taste and quality. This step in the process is what Johnson believes makes her kombucha different from other brands. 

“I don’t know their [other brand’s] processes. I won’t even begin to act as I do, but I really believe that the first ferment in all glass containers makes a difference in the flavor.”

Flavoring is the next step. There’s an assortment of flavors to choose from, including multiple herbal and fruit options to mix and match together for a unique taste. 

Flavor is added to the keg before the first ferment. The keg is sealed and left to ferment for another 12-24 hours at 75 degrees Fahrenheit—more time for the scoby to consume the sugar in the flavoring. 

The keg is placed into a large refrigerator unit, or the “coolbot,” and left to sit for three weeks, allowing it to get cold and bubbly.  

“We like it to go three weeks in cold storage because that slow ferment, the scoby in those kegs is eating up what sugar’s in there,” said Johnson. “Whether it’s a little bit of cane sugar left or the fruit sugars I maybe put in for flavor. We want to give it enough time to eat up as much of that sugar as possible and leave us the beneficial acids and enzymes from that fermentation process.”

Customers can enjoy a refreshing beverage from Krazy Kombucha at the market on Saturdays or by stopping by the taproom from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

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