Drinkers of Mombucha, the kombucha-style tea brewed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, will have even more to feel good about than their healthy beverage choices this April and May. Now until May 31, all Mombucha “storefront” sales on Zaarly.com will go directly to fundraising efforts for the AIDS Lifecycle Ride to End AIDS. Mombucha creator and master brewer Rich Awn will join friend and Lifecycle team leader Tim Lee for the 545 mile ride, which will span San Francisco to Los Angeles from June 2 to 8.
According to Awn, the fundraising effort was relatively spontaneous, influenced by a Facebook post by Lee and, indirectly, an uncle’s active role in the LGBTQ community. Participating in the fundraiser will give Awn the opportunity to actively engage two pillars of the Mombucha ethos: health and family ties.
“My whole family is ultra liberal,” he said. “I want to give back to the gay and lesbian community, be active in that community.” He added, “I’m also really up for the challenge—it’s the most physical challenge I can put my body through.”
For Awn, starting the Mombucha business was less of an arduous feat. In 2005 at age 20, he began brewing a recipe appropriated from his mother.
“It was more of a design experiment for me,” Awn said. “I’ve always been a tinkerer, a doer. [I thought], ‘I’m getting really good at this, I’m owning this recipe.’ Then I started using different infusions and teas.” To prepare for the race, in addition to a training regimen of 20 or more miles of bike riding a day, Awn created a special edition of Mombucha tea titled “Team Wino,” the name of his and Lee’s riding team. The “wino juice,” Awn said, will use passion fruit flavors “because these are passionate people, you can drink it while you’re riding and it’s an awesome boost.” He added, “This is not the store-bought dilution of a fake ferment.” Along with the new recipe, the “nod to Uncle Peter” and the thrill of the challenge, Awn hopes to arrive at the race with a contribution of $10,000—an amount that depends on Mombucha sales, and a contribution from Zaarly, which will match up to $5,000.
“Before, I was donating half of the proceeds because I couldn’t figure out how to sustain business,” said Awn, who started offering the deal at a Zaarly Bazaar event in Brooklyn earlier this month. “Now I can be one of their top fundraisers. Everything has just been a happy challenge, a happy chore, like farm work. It’s been satisfying creatively and physically. I couldn’t be happier. It’s great to have the latitude to live your dream.” To buy Mombucha, check out their Zaarly storefront. To see Mombucha in action and to meet Rich Awn and other Zaarly storefront owners, come to the local Zaarly Bazaar on April 28th at The Space, 50 N.3rd St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from 3 p.m.- 6 p.m.