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WHO

Portch Tea kombucha, or "Farmer's Booch," was first introduced to the market just over a year ago. Our primary focus is a carefully and thoughtfully harvested and fermented product that not only tastes delicious but improves physical and mental function. PorTch Tea is unlike any other kombucha you've ever tasted. 

 

PorTch Tea Kombucha is produced on family owned and operated Pheasant Hill Farm in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Three generations work together throughout each stage of the process, from growing to fermenting, to develop the highest quality kombucha tea. At PorTch Tea, we pride ourselves on our regenerative, chemical-free farming practices. 

  • NO Chemical Pesticides
  • NO Chemical Herbicides
  • NO Chemical Fertilizers

 

 

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WHAT

The foundation for PorTch Tea Kombucha is organic black tea, organic yerba mate, and organic sugar. The SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast) is what allows nature's magic to happen. Farmer's Booch is available in 6 standard varieties. However, on-tap sales allow us greater flexibility and more room for experimentation with our herbs and fruit used to flavor the booch during the second ferment. From week to week, the taste of any "standard" flavor of kombucha may vary a bit due to the raw, live culture it contains, as well as temperature and timing.  

  • Chamomile Lavender: Floral, fruity sweetness like a sweet-tart apple. Balanced, bright and clean. 
  • Happy Booch: Anise hyssop and St. John's Wort are combined with chamomile and lavender. The flavor is round with just a touch of tartness. 
  • Tulsi: Earthy, deep, savory and spicy best describe this Kombucha blend.
  • Mixed Berry Mint: An refreshing, energizing mix of our homegrown blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. 
  • Earthy: A deep and savory fusion of beet, fennel, sage and rosemary,  
  • LBBT?: A delicate blend of lemon balm, bee balm and thyme. It has mostly bright, citric qualities.

 

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WHERE

PorTch Tea Kombucha is available in bottles or on tap at several different locations. We'll be adding even more farmer's markets, health food stores, cafes, and restaurants soon, so check back frequently to see where you can find PorTch Tea! 

 

PorTch Tea is currently available on tap at:

Available by the bottle at:

You can also find PorTch Tea at the Easton Farmer's Market. http://eastonfarmersmarket.com/
Stay tuned, more farmer's markets to be added soon!

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WHEN

The Pie Shell Campaign will be live in April! We want to bring the PorTch Tea experience to a wider audience. If you're interested in how you can help or would like some more information, click here

 

 

Our specific goals include:

  • A "Rolling Taproom" so we can bring our kegs along to Farmer's Markets and festivals.
  • A 100% farm based product
  • New kegerator units so we can offer our PorTch Tea Kombucha to more restaurants, cafes and stores.
  • Producing a new product, called "Jun Tea", which is created with honey rather than sugar. We now have our own hives on the farm, which will take a couple of years to mature enough to use.
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WHY

The "WHY" for me is this little nugget, and wanting her to know the benefits of self-reliance and connection to nature. PorTch Tea is committed to sustainable conservation and in 2004 our farm received the Lehigh County Conservation District “Conservation Farmer of the Year Award”. Our Kombucha is kind to the environment and to your body, as it possesses a plethora of potential health benefits.

  • Contains B Vitamins, enzymes, probiotics
  • Chamomile Lavender is great for digestion and is calming and soothing.
  • LBBT? is wonderful to help nurse a cough, cold, or congestion.

The high concentration of acetic, gluconic and lactic acids may aid in: 

  • Improved Digestion
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Energy
  • Cleansing and Detoxification
  • Immune Support
  • Reduced Joint Pain

*PorTch Tea Kombucha is not intended to treat or cure any diseases.

 

What We Do

 

So, yes, we have "standardized" these six varieties, and have done so based on market performance and supply from this season's harvest. More than anything, these are the standards because they offer the best flavor profiles to play with. They will not taste quite the same from week to week, though they will contain the same ingredients, in proportions determined by the Goddess who guides my herb-sprinkling hand, or some such silliness. Some credit for this "standard inconsistency" goes to the SCOBY army, the temperature, time, maybe even the stars and the stock market. Some goes to me, to whom fiddling with things is irresistible. With kombucha, the "end product" is always still developing, thanks to the raw, live culture it contains. There is a window of a few days over which the booch will express optimal sweetness, followed by a week or so of brightness, evolving over the next few weeks into depth. After about six weeks, acidity overrides, though this final phase can still carry impressive flavor, even after six weeks of open fermentation. Check the dressing below!)

Chamomile Lavender

I am the one who harvests it, and my reference is to the experience of hand-raking all of those blossoms popping off their stems, releasing this cloud of fruity-floral sweetness that just drapes. That's in here. Perfectly balanced by the acidity of the booch. Sweet-tart apple. Bright and clean. Floral. Just enough lavender to draw out the finish. Good for the tummy. Calming, soothing.

Happy Booch

With the Happy blend, anise hyssop and St. John’s Wort combine with chamomile and lavender, adding rounder flavors that connect with the acid. The hyssop hits first, then the chamomile pulls you through it into the tartness, which finishes with a sort of lavender/honey half breath. Not bad.

Tulsi

Deep, savory, earthy, spiced, spicy. But lightened by the lemongrass, drawn out by the ginger. Holy Basil and Coriander bring the spicy and spiced respectively, with lemongrass bridging them and pulling into the acid. Blooming Glen Farm's fresh, local, organic ginger extends the finish. I want to say it tastes reassuring. Like an afghan on the couch, with a window, orange leaves and a fire place. But as a drink.

Mixed Berry Mint

We grow blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. These give you depth, and mint hits the lighter side. Tasty and energizing.

LBBT?

This is perhaps the most delicate balance of flavors. Lemon balm, bee balm, and thyme. It’s bright and citric (with the acids being smoother). Bee balm opens up the lemon balm and thyme kicks it gently across the finish. Great for cough, cold, congestion, or general BLAHs.

EARTHY

Beet, Fennel, Sage, Rosemary. This one is a winter workhorse. Deep, savory, hinting at the vegetal in the best possible way. A mouthful of farm!

 

 

That's great, because these flavors come from our time, our labor, our life, my family, OUR land. Not in the possessive sense, but because we have given ourselves to it. I'm not just batching booch. Not just shopping at the farmers' market or buying organic, free-trade whatever with a clear consumer's conscience. I'm giving you multitudinous days, with changing seasons, weather conditions, moods, and background preoccupations that accompany planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, sifting, sunburns, shivers, ticks, cramps, sore muscles, stiff muscles, bad backs. It's Romantic. For incredibly beautiful moments that mostly seem incidental. Sweet and sour. In order to express yourself and be understood, you must create and extend a metaphor that facilitates in the other an experience of your experience. That's the kind of fluff that floats idly through your mind sitting on the "p-o-r-T-c-h." Then you pound your booch and put your head down, get back to work.

 

My first experience with fermentation...

 

FLAVOURS

Yes. Because the British spelling (closer to the French) is more... uhhuhhuh! And that is what we're after.

 
 
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Chamomile

Just chamomile. But the flavor that comes through is amazing. I usually find chamomile insipid (and shortly thereafter bitter) when brewed hot. But I am the one who harvests it, and my reference is to the experience of hand-raking all of those blossoms popping off their stems, releasing this cloud of fruity-floral sweetness that just drapes. That's in here. Perfectly balanced by the acidity of the booch. Sweet-tart apple. Bright and clean. Floral. Good for the tummy. Calming, soothing.


Happy Booch

The Happy Booch started as Hyssop and went back to one of my herbal blends containing hyssop. The aroma and flavor carried through quite well, but hyssop stood too far apart from the flavor of the booch itself. With the Happy blend, chamomile and lavender have added rounder flavors that connect with the acid. The hyssop hits first, then the chamomile pulls you through it into the tartness, which finishes with a sort of lavender half breath. Not bad. The name is from a small percentage of St. John's Wort, which I left out last week. But I found it robbed the blend of a honey note that let everything glide, so it's back. Be Happy.

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Tulsi

Awesome. This is an awesome freakin tea. Deep, savory, earthy, spiced, spicy. But lightened by the lemongrass. Holy Basil and Coriander bring the spicy and spiced respectively, with lemongrass bridging them and pulling into the acid. Right now Blooming Glen Farm's fresh, local, organic ginger is drawing this blend out for a longer finish that I am LOVING. I want to say it tastes reassuring. Like an afghan on the couch, with a window, orange leaves and a fire place. But as a drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blooch

Blueberry is difficult to get depth of flavor from, and mint hits the lighter side, so I've thrown in a little red raspberry leaf this week to see how it'll develop. The high content of volatile oils in the rosemary I initially had in this brew was squashing everything together. So we open it up, tinker around, and see where it leads. This is generally the tartest and lightest of the berry booches, making it an energizing option. A nice afternoon booch.

 

 

 

STRAWbABEE

Just the right amount of Bee Balm last week to lift the Basil and open it up on the finish. This week I've mixed a little Holy Basil in with the Cardinal to see if we can't give it just a little deeper bite. This is generally the "heaviest" of the fruit booches and I therefore like to bottle condition it to preserve that character. I think the Tulsi will add just the right dimension to your contemplative sipping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAZZLEMONGER

Taking advantage of the more complex and subtle flavour of fresh ginger again here this week. Thanks to Blooming Glen Farm for your standard high-quality certified organic stuff! (I couldn't afford to place my order to Hawaii in the dead of last winter, so I missed it! But you can't do everything.) The fresh ginger will fizz up through the depth of the Raspberry flavor we achieved last week by cutting the lemon and sticking with just herbs (Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena). I think the citric acid was one to many in the mix to allow the fruit through. And the ginger this week will put it through the roof! Another one good for a pick-me-up!

 

 

 

 

 

#7

Everybody seems to have a cough and cold or allergies this week, so I broke out "The Blahs." (See below for the scoop on this herbal blend.) #7 is my experimental batch with which to spring into seasonal action or offer a bit of out-there distraction for the hum-drum taste buds. This week feverfew, echinacea, calendula, thyme, bee balm, basil, blueberry leaf and strawberry leaf will help you out. The Blahs has an earthy base provided by the echinacea, which should move into the acids well, as will hints of berry from the blueberry and strawberry leaf, carried on the tannins. Bee balm, thyme and eucalyptus slowly penetrate to open this booch with a mildly medicinal/menthol presence that has traditionally been recognized to help soothe congestion and a tickle in the throat.

 

A quick word on the varieties out there in the world starting this week. We begin with what has been labeled the "Raw" kombucha. I've also referred to it as "naked." This is a first-ferment, bottle-conditioned, very lightly carbonated, sweet-tart tea. I would say it is a good intro to the booch or a nice reminder for the experienced drinker. This is where it comes from. There is still a bit of residual raw organic sugar, the acids are still subtle, well-balanced with the lingering sweetness. You can still tell it began with Numi organic black tea and taste what it is becoming. The Tulsi has added Holy Basil, Lemongrass, and Coriander seed to the first-ferment "raw" booch to infuse flavor, allowing a longer ferment and slightly heavier carbonation, though still a bottle-conditioned brew this week. The Coriander and Lemongrass really compliment the Tulsi beautifully, and the result is a rooty/earthy/spiced naturally sparkling beverage great for Fall. The three fruit flavors out there now are the Blooch, Razzlemon, and Strawbasil. The Blooch is Blueberry/Mint/Rosemary. Razzlemon is Raspberry with Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, and a little bit of dehydrated organic lemon (until my Meyers come in). The Starwbasil is Strawberry and Cardinal basil. All have been force carbonated and should be fizzy enough for those of you raised on soda.

A quick word on the varieties out there in the world starting this week.

We begin with what has been labeled the "Raw" kombucha. I've also referred to it as "naked." This is a first-ferment, bottle-conditioned, very lightly carbonated, sweet-tart tea. I would say it is a good intro to the booch or a nice reminder for the experienced drinker. This is where it comes from. There is still a bit of residual raw organic sugar, the acids are still subtle, well-balanced with the lingering sweetness. You can still tell it began with Numi organic black tea and taste what it is becoming.

The Tulsi has added Holy Basil, Lemongrass, and Coriander seed to the first-ferment "raw" booch to infuse flavor, allowing a longer ferment and slightly heavier carbonation, though still a bottle-conditioned brew this week. The Coriander and Lemongrass really compliment the Tulsi beautifully, and the result is a rooty/earthy/spiced naturally sparkling beverage great for Fall.

The three fruit flavors out there now are the Blooch, Razzlemon, and Strawbasil. The Blooch is Blueberry/Mint/Rosemary. Razzlemon is Raspberry with Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, and a little bit of dehydrated organic lemon (until my Meyers come in). The Starwbasil is Strawberry and Cardinal basil. All have been force carbonated and should be fizzy enough for those of you raised on soda.

So a goat farmer handed me my first SCOBY in one of those fabric cooler bags in a hot summer parking lot like a black market organ deal. And, yeah, looking at the thing floating in the glass jar in that bag it wasn't hard to imagine someone waking up in a bathtub full of ice in a cheap motel somewhere thinking WTF and dearly missing it. So what's the attraction?

Well, this stuff isn't magical. But it IS pretty freakin good for you. First introduced in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty, it was known as the "tea of immortality." Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea. I am using organic black tea, organic yerba mate, and organic sugar as the base. The SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is what makes it all happen, adding light carbonation, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acids (acetic, gluconic and lactic), which may aid in:

  • Improved Digestion
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Energy
  • Cleansing and Detoxification
  • Immune Support
  • Reduced Joint Pain
  • Cancer Prevention

For the particular benefit of the FDA, of course, I make no claims whatsoever to any possible or potential health benefits some people out there with their own fringe ideas unsubstantiated by rigorous, grant-funded, peer-reviewed scientific research attribute to drinking kombucha. PorTch Tea's Farmer's Booch TASTES great! And that makes me happy. And that makes me feel good. It tastes great because I use fruit, herbs, tea and yerba mate from the family farm, where I KNOW what goes on because it's what I do. No chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Farming, for me, is all about a bit of thoughtful facilitation. (And lots of bending, squatting, sweating and cursing, occasionally interrupted by moments of mindblowing peace and satisfaction.)

The booch is the perfect value-added expression of my farm philosophy. I take the best of what I do working with nature, and let nature work on that. Then I bottle it and slap a label on it. Thank you, SCOBY army. Booch on!

 

 

No, the man who is about to blow his top does not have to fix his eye on the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, or any other great model; he has only to give us, in his own language, the saga of his woes and tribulations, the saga of his non-existentialism. . . he will have to admit that he - not the other fellow - is that terrible person who is contributing, wittingly or unwittingly, to the speedy downfall and disintegration of his own people. . . everything he does, everything he says, everything he touches, pertains to the invisible poisonous web which holds us all in its mesh and which is slowly but surely crushing the life out of us. It does not matter what high office the reader may hold - he is as much a villain and a victim as the outlaw and the outcast.

        "Who will print such books, who will publish disseminate them?
        "No one!
        "You will have to do it yourself, dear man. . . Carry a little 'tea' with you and you'll soon have an audience."
                                            -Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

 

Herbal TEas

It's much more pleasant, whenever possible, to head out to the garden rather than to CVS. Recognizing the former, it may be possible to reduce the need for the latter. Herbal teas offer traditional remedies steeped in history, culture, folklore, spirituality, mysticism. No BS, just compost. And outside the purview of the FDA. Ask your farmer if porTch teas are right for you.

Tinctures

Here we're looking for a medium to deliver the essence of an herb in a quick and concentrated dose. Tinctures can be made using alcohol, vegetable glycerin, or apple cider vinegar. Pictured is the bedside bottle. Hops infusing its sedative properties into the ACV. Ask your farmer and amateur herbal historian if porTch tea tinctures are right for you.

Our Flagship Tea

 

The recipe for BWD is chamomile, valerian leaf, lemon balm, feverfew, apple mint, St. John's Wort and coriander. It begins light and lemony. Apple follows softly with the chamomile and opens into mint that will deepen with the herbaceous tones of St. John's wort and the green earthiness of valerian leaf. The bitterness that may emerge  after the desired balance has been achieved in a medium steep results from the presence of feverfew. Taste test after a few minutes, experiment up to five minutes. (I always leave the bag in, but I am looking for flavors!) Some bitterness may come out in a long steep, but I like that. 

Bongwater dogs comes from those lost "as we dream" days with our good friend chef Tim and the dogs, Zeke, Otis and Dr. Jarvis (RIP all three) running around the farm like the crazy animals they were to drag ass, tongues lolling, back to the porTch to drink from the bucket of water that had been set out of the way in the corner. At least some of the memories we carry serve to soften the impact of the present tense, the swelling threat of the imminent future. When you find yourself grasping for such comfort in the recesses of your memory (as happens often enough), let me offer you a cup of tea, like a kindly British grandmother, dearie. Let me share what I have to hold on to. How else do we ever know what's real and what we've imagined?

Drink up. Chill out. Be happy.

 

 

 

All the Ladies.

 

All the Ladies Blend features bee balm, feverfew, red clover, calendula, red raspberry, pineapple sage and lavender. With a hint of raspberry at its base from powdered dehydrated fresh berries from the farm, this blend is more earthy than floral, but the lavender rounds it out nicely on the lighter side. Exceptionally well balanced. Keep the bag in while drinking and refill with the same bag once or twice. A long steep builds character in this tea. 
Flavor develops as the tea takes on a pinkish  brown color.

Could be enjoyed with a very light-colored, floral honey like raw dandelion.

 

The Blahs Blend

 

The Blahs Blend features feverfew, echinacea, calendula, thyme, bee balm, basil, blueberry leaf and strawberry leaf. The Blahs is a long steep tea, with an earthy base provided by the echinacea. This is lifted by hints of berry from the blueberry and strawberry leaf. Bee balm, thyme and eucalyptus slowly penetrate with a mildly medicinal/menthol presence that has traditionally been recognized to help soothe congestion and a tickle in the throat. I have been pairing this with heavier medicinal honeys such as raw Manuka and Thyme.

 

 
"Everything in our world, even a drop of dew. . . is a microcosm of the universe. . ." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Everything in our world, even a drop of dew. . . is a microcosm of the universe. . ." Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Consequences Blend

 

Rough night? The Consequences Blend features feverfew, chamomile, fennel, thyme and chocolate mint. This blend of herbs is traditionally recognized as one that will address headaches, body aches, stomachaches and frayed nerves. This tea requires a short to medium steep. It has a light minty, apple character. Gentle and soothing for those rough mornings.

 

 

Gastric Aftermath

 

Gastric Aftermath features fennel, coriander, chocolate mint, chamomile, wormwood and lavender. This blend is a light, bright floral tea that mellows into the anise base offered by the fennel seed. This blend of herbs is traditionally recognized to be calming for the nerves as well as for your digestion.  The tea requires a short to medium steep. You may pick up a little bitterness toward the end if flavors overdevelop.

 

 

The Bedside Bottle 

"4 in the morning/ I woke up from out of my dreams/ Nowhere to go but back to sleep/ But I'm reconciled/ Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh, I'm gonna be up for a while..." The words make me well up, Paul Simon. 

Sometimes there's nothing to do. But sometimes a gentle traditional remedy can help. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is effective at drawing out the sedative properties of hops. George Washington used to sleep on a hops pillow!

I put 4-6 full droppers in a glass of water and chug it down. It's tasty and I don't have to watch infomercials at 3:00 in the morning.

About

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my first foray into things fermented by culture...

was this old apple tree with little one in tow last year. Who knows when my folks planted it with what hopes for the future. But it grew and grew, neglected or unchecked, and last year for some reason or other it offered us like 40 vertical feet (mostly unreachable) of these ugly but tasty apples. It was beautiful in the evenings, looking up from the porTch. I was pretty much just back from somewhere else and still in a different place, still in shock, I guess, trying to balance the concepts of lack and abundance across 5,000 miles and a few hundred years of the uneven development of the Americas. And a whole bunch of personal crap to boot.

So, apples. There they were for the picking. And we picked them. Thank you, Goddess. But what do you do with product these days other than pile it up as high and as pretty as you can on a country kitchen table cloth at one of 1,000 local farmers' markets? Things have changed. Organic is mainstream now, big business under the purview of the FDA, coming in from China. But still, everybody these days feels good about knowing their farmers (who look like savvy millennial business people posing for a photo shoot in Carhartts). And good for you, cats and kittens. But I still want something different. I don't want Agribusiness any more than I want Ag Science.

I want some freaking magic.

The apples went to cider vinegar over about six months, while I kept trying about a million other things that didn't quite work to redefine a small farm across a generation gap in a marketplace that seemed in a big hurry to go nowhere but in ever smaller circles. But that back-burner project, those blobs in the basement metabolizing alcohol into acetic acid, gave me an in. Or an out.

The kombucha SCOBY works its parallel magic over a couple weeks compared to long months with the ACV mother. And it provides an opportunity to bring in so much more of the diverse production of the small family farm my folks started when everybody still thought they were weirdos for doing it. I can put it in a bottle, label it, and hit the marketplace with a particular brand and slant, rather than just another pile of pretty produce. The herbal tea blends I grew, dried and blended last year (a bit of occupational therapy, if nothing else) now bring incredible flavor to the booch, along with a rich history of "folk medicine," tapping another couple definitions of culture. And the berries, of course, still hold a mainstream appeal for a relatively fringe beverage.

Anyway, that's where we're at right now. See if you can keep up. The SCOBY never sleeps.