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Amidst the pandemic, healthy habits have become lost in many people's lives due to changes in their day-to-day routines. One Toronto student is hoping his business can help change that.
Brendan Bornstein, a 22-year-old men’s hockey player at the University of Toronto, started brewing his own kombucha in his apartment in 2020. Bornstein, who grew up primarily in San Francisco, Calif., before moving around the US and Canada for hockey, says that the health benefits he received from consuming kombucha inspired him to start making his own.
“I was drinking it every day, feeling the benefits, and decided I wanted to take my health to a whole new level,” Bornstein says.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is crafted using black or green tea, sugar and what is known as the Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast or ‘SCOBY.’ Like most fermented foods, kombucha has a slew of health benefits that primarily surround gut and immune health.
Following the end of his semester at school in 2020, and shortly after the pandemic was coming to fruition, Bornstein returned to his family’s home near Boston, Mass. for the summer. It was at home that he began developing a stronger and healthier routine, which included a glass of kombucha every day.
“I feel better than I ever have,” Bornstein says.
When he returned to school in September 2020, he decided to bring the same habits he built up over the summer back to Toronto, to his rigorous and busy life as a student.
With the absence of a hockey season this year, he found himself with much more free time, noting that this was the first time since he was two-years-old he hadn’t been playing hockey. To keep up with his healthy routine, he starts every day with kombucha, but found it to become expensive over time.
After some thorough research––and with his innate entrepreneurial spirit––Bornstein began brewing his own booch.
“I made my first batch and surprisingly it turned out really, really well,” he says.
When he began giving out bottles to his close friends and other student-athletes within his circle, he noticed a demand for his product and decided to start his small-batch kombucha business, Brendan's Boocha.
The process of brewing your own kombucha is relatively inexpensive––it truly relies on time and patience, and sourcing the proper ingredients. Bornstein’s process is heavily researched and backed by the countless other home-brewers out there. He also uses all-natural and organic ingredients, and is in the process of becoming a certified organic producer.
Bornstein has been producing roughly seven gallons of kombucha at a time, but has already secured supplies to be getting a yield of about 15 to 20 gallons. Brendan’s Boocha uses two fermentation processes––the first one takes place in the jugs between 7 to 10 days and then an additional two or three days in the bottle.
Currently, Bornstein is crafting three flavours of kombucha––a cranberry and hibiscus, a honey, ginger and lemon, and a raspberry, ginger and lemon. All the flavouring happens between the two fermentation processes.
Apart from a highly competitive hockey career and his backyard booch-brewing operation, Bornstein is also double-majoring in environmental geography and philosophy, and is incredibly passionate about creating a sustainable kombucha business. The beverage itself lends well to environmentally-conscious practices––the SCOBY can be reused multiple times if taken care of properly, and can be composted once worn out. Additionally, Bornstein has implemented a ‘bottle recycling’ model to his business in which customers who return their bottles to be reused will receive a discount on their next order.
Bornstein is also dedicated to educating others about the benefits of kombucha and building a health-forward community..
“I want to create a community where all of my beliefs and everything I really believe about the mind and the body––and how healthy and how important all of those things are––to create a complete person,” he says.
He imagines a nice summer day in the near future where he and his friends come together to do yoga in the park and enjoy some kombucha afterwards. For him, his entire approach is built around healthy habits and enhancing your body and mind, and Brendan’s Boocha aims to help you reach your wellness goals.
“I want everyone who’s a part of this to feel like they’re part of something bigger than just buying a beverage,” says Bornstein. “A whole plethora of things that expand beyond the kombucha. This is just the beginning.”