Profile: ValleSana Kombucha, Valle de Bravo, Mexico
As shown on the Booch News Instagram, I recently spent a month in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and visiting Lake Chapala near Guadalajara. As is typical for tourists, I could only stumble on random outlets for kombucha. This was especially true in a large country like Mexico. However, I was contacted by Alex from ValleSana Kombucha outside of Mexico City. We met last March at KKON23 in Long Beach, and I scheduled a phone interview to extend the coverage of the expanding kombucha scene in that country.
Alex Himmelbauer founded ValleSana Kombucha in the mountain town of Valle de Sana, two hours west of Mexico City. This was after he discovered kombucha helped with his health issues:
A few years ago, my digestion seemed to be upside down, I lost my appetite, suffered from constant stomach pain, and felt bloated all the time. After different diagnoses and constant taking of antibiotics, I lost hope of having good digestion again. Thanks to the fermentation course my wife took, I was introduced to kombucha and within a couple of weeks I started to feel much better. How was it that medicine didn’t work, and this ancient drink did? I asked myself. Curiosity led me to discover all its benefits and to become passionate about it. I hope our kombucha helps you feel better.
He’d moved west from Mexico City where, in a city of 22 million, he could not find ‘booch. He was surprised to find that, in the small vacation town of Valle de Bravo — population 24,000 — there were already three brands!
Early experiments with home brewing led to friends encouraging him to launch commercially four years ago.
Alex combines organic black tea and gunpowder green and cold brews in mountain spring water for 12 hours. He finds the water makes a real difference — filtering the chlorine-treated city water in Mexico City led to “awful” tasting kombucha. The spring water in the Valle de Bravo region is one of the secrets to his award-winning taste.
He brews in a beautiful custom extension to his home. It is flooded with natural light, and three stainless steel fermentation vessels feed into each other, where the yeasts are balanced with an acidic “kombucha vinegar” starter. He carefully cleans each SCOBY to remove excess yeast. The starter added to larger vessels limits the propagation of yeasts, helps the bacteria, and allows for a 12-day F1 cycle. The ambient temperature in the winter is 14C (57F) and 24C (78F) in summer. He does not use heating pads; he uses extra starter in the summer.
This YouTube video shows Alex in his brewery:
ValleSana was the Gold Medal winner with their Original (Natural) Kombucha at both the KBI World Kombucha Awards European Salon held in Barcelona in October 2023, and the March 2023 KKON held in Long Beach, California.
His logo is printed directly on the bottles to ease recycling. The flavor details are on the cap. In addition to Natural they make Ginger, Curcu Mint, and Lemon.
The liter bottles sell for 160-200 pesos ($9.00-$11.50), and the 300 ml for 60-70 pesos ($3.50-$4.00). Valle de Bravo and Mexico City residents can join his Kombucha Club and place online orders for six and 12-packs. He distributes to retail outlets in these two locations.
He plans to meet growing demand by investing in more extensive facilities with the help of his older brother, Robert.
Alex shares more specifics about his brewing process and passion for natural, organic kombucha in the podcast.