You can’t stumble through a Whole Foods or health-food store without spotting endless bottles of GT Kombucha—the single biggest commercially produced brand of the fermented tea beverage on the market today. It’s everywhere. Turns out actor Andrew Keegan’s new-age L.A. cult was selling kombucha, too. The 10 Things I Hate About You and 7th Heaven star explained to VICE, “Part of our spiritual practice is drinking kombucha.”
Ok, a ’90s actor-turned-spiritual-leader was selling fermented kombucha to hippie actors in L.A. So what? Keegan’s organization was raided, then busted for selling an alcoholic beverage (a.k.a. the fermented kombucha) without a license.
The CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control seized several containers of the locally brewed kombucha at Keegan’s Organization, the Full Circle Spiritual Center in Venice, last Friday. Jason Dilts, Full Circle’s communications and development director, called the raid “distressing.”
So How Did We Get Here?
Like all things that ferment—including yeast-raised bread if it overproofs—there’s potential for small amounts of alcohol to happen when you brew kombucha. Full Circle was serving the Kombucha Dog brand, which prides itself on being undiluted, thus allowing adherents to experience the strongest, fullest effects of their favorite beverage.
Their official website says:
KOMBUCHA DOG is raw, undiluted kombucha, handcrafted with all organic ingredients. Fermented with cold-pressed juices, our kombucha is naturally carbonated, very low in sugar and naturally contains probiotics and antioxidants. The dogs featured on the front of every bottle are Los Angeles-based rescue dogs ready for adoption. So far Kombucha Dog has helped over 50 dogs find their new forever homes. Each dog adopted is another dog saved.
WE DON’T DILUTE. Traditional kombucha is a fermented tea that may be over 0.5% alcohol. Instead of weakening our product with water and other additives so it can be sold to people under 21, Kombucha Dog is brewed undiluted, creating a pure, full strength kombucha – the most potent on the market.
California State Code states that an alcoholic beverage is anything containing an alcohol content over 0.05%. Since the ABC says they received complaints, they felt compelled to investigate. It sounds to us like someone just didn’t want all those damn hippie actors on their lawn.
Full Circle spokesman Jason Dilts talked to the Argonaut about the bust, and said, “Part of our spiritual practice is that we serve kombucha. We were very surprised and concerned when we saw the agents wheeling the containers of Kombucha Dog out of the fundraiser.”
Keegan said, “Kombucha is something we’d never imagine to be an illegal substance, and it’s frustrating the system has that perspective. We’re certainly taking full responsibility for co-creating the event. We try to put our best foot forward. We wanted to raise money for Sea Shepherd as a community; that’s how Full Circle operates.”