The top four reasons kombucha brewing is an excellent team building activity for your company.
Imagine your team is sitting around a table and each person is curiously examining a jar full of liquid with a jellyfish-like organism floating in it. You might be wondering what fermentation has to do with team building, but from years of experience, I can guarantee that it is a recipe for community and connection.
After an engaging hour-long session of sampling home-brewed kombucha, discussing the benefits of probiotics, walking through the brewing process step by step and munching on some snacks made with kombucha, your teammates are ready to brew their very own kombucha. Your office is filled with excited chatter about what people are naming their SCOBYs (kombucha brewing organisms) and unique flavors they are dreaming up
After teaching over 100 kombucha brewing workshops since 2012, I have found that the process of brewing this delicious and slightly strange beverage makes a perfect team building activity. I have worked with companies like Google, AirBnB, Indiegogo and Atlassian to bring people together over their curiosity about the popular probiotic beverage, kombucha.
The top four reasons kombucha brewing is an excellent team building activity for your company:
1.Levels the playing field. It doesn’t matter if you are an executive or in an entry level position, learning a totally new skill helps to lower your ego and connects you with your colleagues in a new way. Learning how to brew kombucha is not difficult, but it does require special steps and makes you relate to your food in a totally new way.
2. Creates accountability. Making kombucha is like taking care of a plant, except that plant gives you a delicious probiotic beverage. Some people are not very good at taking care of plants or completing tasks on time... Brewing kombucha with your teammates helps strengthen the “follow-through” muscle and helps people have fun by being accountable taking care of their new “food pet”.
3. Builds community around health. The office gossip could be about who got the most hammered at happy hour last week or it could be about how folks are excited to share the new kombucha flavors they made over the weekend. By choosing a team activity that is focused on creating a new healthy habit, you are supporting your employees in taking care of themselves. People who feel good in their bodies will undoubtedly perform better, collaborate well and be happy!
4. It's fun! One of the most important things about a successful team building event is that people have a good time. Learning how to make kombucha takes something that everyone can relate to and enjoys - food - and teaches them the secrets behind how to make it at home. Kombucha also has a delightful novelty about it because it uses a mat of cells (known as a SCOBY- symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that everyone loves to feel weird about. This collective new experience creates lasting connection and community.
It's time to move away from the “happy-hour” social crutch and rethink your team building activities to intentionally create a collaborative, unique and healthy company culture.
If you are ready to host your very own kombucha brewing workshop contact Lila here.
Top 4 reasons it is important to brew kombucha in the age of convenience.
Illustrations by Lila Volkas
Making kombucha encourages folks to look up from their phone and into their brewing vessel where a slimy pancake known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) chills out in some sweet tea. In the age of convenience, where just about anything can be delivered to your doorstep in a matter of hours, you might conclude that our interest in making food will be quick to hit the curb.
I beg to differ. Even though the average American eats out 5.9 times per week, brewing your own kombucha has become increasingly popular. I have been teaching kombucha brewing workshops since 2012 and have witnessed my public workshops consistently selling out because people are thirsty for more connection in their kitchen.
1. Deepening connection with food
Brewing kombucha allows you to make a special “store bought drink” in your own kitchen with simple supplies. Unfortunately, humans have become increasingly out of touch with how our food ends up on our plate, or beverages in our tumblers. The standard American meal is comprised of processed food far from its original form plus non-seasonal produce from across the world. The process of tending to your kombucha SCOBY creates an emotional relationship between the brewer and their booch. I have found that this connection can inspire us to pay a bit more attention to our health and how we feed our bodies.
2. Delayed Gratification
In our instant world, we could all use a little bit of delayed gratification. Not so long ago, I remember buying a disposable camera, taking photos and then waiting patiently to get them developed at the drugstore. The moment when the photo clerk handed me the envelope of pictures was so exciting because I had waited for them. Brewing kombucha takes at least a week (which is not very long in the fermentation world), but seems like an eternity when you just want to know how it turned out. Sometimes I have people exclaim in the middle of my workshop “I have to wait a whole week?!” And my response is always “patience is what makes your kombucha that much more satisfying.”
3. Sharing is Caring
SCOBYs must be shared in order to stay healthy. When a SCOBY gets too big for a brewing vessel, then I recommend “pruning it” by peeling off one or two layers, so that your brew doesn’t ferment too quickly. What to do with those extra layers? My first suggestion is to share them with friends, family or even a stranger! To me, the fact that kombucha SCOBYs grow in layers that are easy to separate, means that the process of brewing kombucha is designed for connection.
We are all connected
People are feeling more lonely and isolated than ever before. To combat the feeling of separation, we need to recognize the ways we are invisibly linked. Making kombucha helps us remember how we share much more than meets the eye.
I have taught kombucha brewing workshops about once a month since 2012. And I have calculated that, as of November 2019, I have likely given SCOBYs to over 900 people around the world. Old women in rural Germany, college students in Vancouver, and computer engineers from Google are brewing kombucha from the same SCOBY, my SCOBY (her name is Sheila)! Since the nature of kombucha is that it wants to be shared, those 900 workshop attendees have likely given a piece of their SCOBY to their own friends or family. Thus creating this invisible interconnected web of people across the world whose common thread is that they all brew kombucha from the same organism. Those numbers warm my heart when I am feeling disconnected.
We live in a time when the tap of your finger can bring groceries, lunch and even a professional chef to your house to make you dinner. Home brewing kombucha is exactly the medicine our technology-driven and convenience-oriented culture needs. It is a reminder to slow down, be patient, connect with people and make something you would usually buy from a store.
Why more companies are choosing to imbibe un-boozy beverages during social gatherings.
Alcohol, the age-old social lubricant that makes you feel like a comedian, oils up your witty banter with coworkers and takes the edge off talking to your boss.
It seems like social gatherings are synonymous with sipping an alcoholic drink. I think it's time for a change and more and more companies around the Bay Area seem to agree. The “bro” happy hour culture is getting old. It's time for a new era of socializing where your red cup is full of something other than beer (even if it’s from a famous local microbrewery).
Enter kombucha. Kombucha is the bubbly beverage that is taking over refrigerators in grocery stores across the country. This fermented tea is a popular choice for health conscious connoisseurs to wellness skeptics because it tastes delicious and is so much better than youth-sucking soda.
Kombucha satisfies with the carbonation kick of beer, but without the booze. It’s sweet, but not sickenly so like soda and comes in an abundance of creative flavors. What's not to love? Also, it's good for you! Full of beneficial probiotics, antioxidants and B-vitamins it's guaranteed to make you feel better the next day, compared to a boozy hangover.
You may think that without alcohol your team will be twiddling their thumbs. Think again because not only is kombucha your new favorite beverage, but you can make it at home or at work! Start your next happy hour with a kombucha brewing workshop that engages your team in learning a new skill, builds community and creates a culture of a company that values the well-being of their employees.
As a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, I have been teaching kombucha brewing workshops around the world since 2012. At a recent onsite kombucha workshop in San Francisco, an employee took me aside and said,“ I am so grateful you came to our office. I am sober and it was so nice to do something as a team that felt really inclusive.”
Brewing kombucha changed my life because it got me thinking about what I put in my body and how it makes me feel. It also empowered me to start making food myself that I'd usually purchase from the supermarket.
I treasure the several emails I get per month from workshop participants sharing their team’s kombucha flavoring competitions and the cute names they have given to their SCOBYs (kombucha brewing organisms). I have been booked by companies large and small who are ready to take their team building events and happy hours to the next level.