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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

MTO Kombucha: Love and Health in Every Bottle

Jun 04, 2014 03:48AM

For those who haven’t jumped on the Kombucha bandwagon, or insist that the nutrient and probiotic-rich fermented tea either smells or tastes bad, there is ample evidence that they haven’t been drinking Ralph Crafts’ MTO (Made to Order) Kombucha. A quick tasting of the different blends leaves even the most skeptical drinker with a different perspective of the popular health drink. 

MTO Kombucha comes in 19 flavors—including a new hops blend that tastes a bit like beer without the gluten and the alcohol that prevents so many from enjoying a cold one on a hot day. The quality of the ingredients makes all the difference, according to Crafts. Every element that goes into the brew, from the water to the organic tea to the non-GMO raw cane sugar, is carefully selected to produce a highly nutritious and delightfully refreshing drink.

Each step of the brewing process is meticulously planned to expend the lowest energy, with the best quality product. Crafts and his staff of five use the latest technologies such as a tankless water heaters and high-grade induction heaters, to prepare the fermented tea. The magic of Kombucha comes from the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that looks somewhat like a mushroom, of which a small piece is placed in each vat and grows through the fermentation process. So pure are Crafts’ SCOBY’s that he was able to apply (and told that they would be accepted) for organic certification. The brewery itself is heated and cooled with a geothermal system as well. While not off-the-grid completely, Crafts believes that his place quite possibly has the lowest carbon footprint of any Kombucha brewer in the country.

After serving in the Marine Corps, Crafts was an architectural designer while taking care of his wife, Roseann. Her daily IV feedings caused her liver to become severely damaged, leading to hospitalization every few months due to infections. At the suggestion of Roseann’s Medicaid attendant, Crafts started serving store-bought Kombucha to his wife and drank it himself, with his nose pinched so he could avoid the unpleasant odor. On a whim, he started making it at home and realized that it tasted a lot better when it came from their own kitchen. As Kombucha became part of her regular diet, Roseann’s liver function returned to normal, and she went for three years with no hospitalizations. As Crafts recalls his late wife, “She was only 5’1” and weighed 85 pounds, but she was tougher than any Marine I ever knew.” 

Crafts started sharing his brew with others, including a colleague whose mother was unable to eat while enduring chemo for stage-four cancer. Within three days, the colleague called to say that his mother was back to a full diet and no stomach ache. On the strength of that, the new Kombucha-convert convinced and invested in Crafts’ building of a commercial kitchen (in his garage) that was then certified by the state so that he could produce MTO Kombucha for sale.

Roseann was instrumental in getting the company started—creating different recipes by adding fresh zests of organic fruits such lemon, orange, strawberries, raspberries and grapefruit, herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil or anise, or other organic flavorings such as vanilla and chocolate—all while using her walker. Within a few years, the demand was so great that MTO Kombucha moved into their current location, a 4,000 square feet commercial kitchen in Vint Hill in Warrenton, VA.

MTO Kombucha is growing at an amazing rate and will be doubling the amount of current production within the next few months. But, in spite of this phenomenal growth, the elements that make MTO Kombucha, the hand-crafting of the brew, won’t be compromised. With new bottling machines, staff will be freed up from the time-consuming tasks and left to focus on crafting the brew.

Crafts is quick to share the different and unique flavors of his brews. After pouring a taste in the glass jar, he watches with a knowing smile as he waits to hear the words he has heard thousands of times before, “Hey, that’s really good.” He knows that it is more than good taste that he is delivering. Crafts hears countless stories of how his brew has helped the drinker to overcome acid reflux and other digestive issues, muscular problems, healing issues, even curing a horse of parasites—just to name of few. He knows that amazing things can happen when there is hand-crafted goodness and love in every bottle.

MTO Kombucha is available in a growing number of locations throughout the greater Washington D.C., metro area, Virginia and Maryland. For a complete list of locations, local tasting locations or to order your own brew online, visit  


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