This Brooklyn Fermented Tea Brand Brews by Its Own Rules | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
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Four yellow and orange bottles of Unified Ferments teas on a white background.
Courtesy Unified Ferments

In the United States, the market for fermented tea drinks, including the popular kombucha variety, reached $2.2 billion at the end of last year, and is expected to jump to $6.5 billion by 2026. But all such beverages are not created equal, as exemplified by Brooklyn-based brewer Unified Ferments, which concocts refreshments that offer a distinctive, and complex yet subtle drinking experience. “Most kombucha is made from a simple tea that’s used as a base, and then flavored,” says Graham Pirtle, who co-founded the company in 2019 with his friend Young Stowe after realizing, while employed at a high-end tea house in Manhattan, that certain teas age, and can be consumed, like fine wines. “With us, each product makes its own rules—there’s never exactly a playbook.”

Unified Ferments hasn’t reinvented fermented teas so much as it has doubled down on quality ingredients and experimentation. “Some teas I love fail to perform as a fermented beverage,” says Stowe, who, like Pirtle, worked for breweries and wineries for several years before launching their current venture. “And other teas we wouldn’t look twice at blow us away once they’ve aged.” Take their Snow Chrysanthemum Jun, made with flowers grown in northern China’s Kunlun mountains and a touch of honey, or the Qi Dan Kombucha, a robust sparkling tea harvested from volcanic soil with notes of plum and a spicy terroir. “It’s the one that gets people in the wine world interested,” Stowe says of the latter. He and Pirtle are keen to keep learning about their product—a desire the pandemic has inadvertently supported. “We went on a hiatus when it first struck, and realized we let a couple of bottles go a month or two longer in the aging process than we intended,” Stowe says. He popped one of the vessels, took a swig, and marveled at its contents: “I can’t wait until we have a reserve line!”

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As people everywhere settle into new home-cooking routines, finding resourceful ways to make their pantry goods stretch victory garden. Luckily for apartment dwellers without a backyard or access to much green space (more than half the world, basically), all you need is a corner of a countertop to grow some fresh herbs indoors. Better still, and for the botanEdn. The company makes wifi-controlled kits that come with a built-in LED grow light; simple seed pods for no-fuss, soillesSmall Garden order placed—a welcome reminder, in these uncertain times, that your efforts to stay indoors can make a difference for

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The New York City–based designer, actor, and man-about-town Waris Ahluwalia tells us about his company, House of Waris—which specializes in tea and botanicals, with a café in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and a team of herbalists—and w

An assortment of brightly colored Dada snack packs.

Self-quarantine and social distancing in the age of the coronavirus are not to be taken lightly, and if, like us, you’refor your own safety and for the safety of others—you may be asking yourself what to stock your pantries with. Add to cart: DADA Daily, a line of tasty and healthy snacks that are neither heavy-handedly survivalist nor overprocessed and, not to mention, so don’t be that bulk-buying, toilet paper-stockpiling jerk.

The book cover for Fanny Singer's Always Home.

As the daughter of Slow Food pioneer and Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, Fanny Singer has had her share of Proustian Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes and Stories (Alfred A. Knopf), offers a warm and sensorial portrait of her mother, and of an upbringing that often revolved around

The Dimes cookbook on a soccer goal's net.

Dimes, the all-day café, bar, and market founded by Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner in downtown Manhattan, has always doneDimes Times: Emotional Eating (Karma Books)—which she says is the first in a series of more publications to come.

Koji wrapped in white gauze on a black background.

Rich Shih, founder of the blog Our Cook Quest and co-author of the forthcoming book Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation, is a self-taught cook and fermentation expert who makes everything from takuan pickles to fish sauce from scratch, twekoji, the source of umami in fermented ingredients like miso, soy sauce, mirin, and more.

A carafe, glass, and can of Makku on a green backdrop.

South Korean cinema has been on everyone’s lips this week, in the afterglow of director Bong Joon-ho’s triumphant OscarsParasite, the grand finale to a months-long award spree that began with a Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival last year. making history in more ways than one. By his second acceptance speech, Bong, whose reactions were being duly memed, was ready to hit the bar. His exact words: “I’m ready to drink now, until the morning.” A total mood.

One of Chen and Williams sculptural food machines.

Process, materiality, and a sense of playfulness often figure into the work of designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams. As does a love of food: When not making furniture or products, the Brooklyn-based duo are known to stage intricate foo

A window with lettering at The Orchard Townhouse.

Phil Winser, co-owner of Silkstone, the hospitality company behind celebrated restaurants such as The Fat Radish, on NewThe Orchard Townhouse, a cozy restaurant in Chelsea that’s soon to open a garden and six fully furnished long-stay rental apartments upstairs

Bright Orange turmeric root and powder on a green background.

Turmeric, a flowering plant that’s part of the ginger family (and similarly harvested for its roots), is having its momeNYT Cooking’s spiced chickpea stew—so popular it’s simply referred to as #TheStew—by cookbook author and columnist Alison Roman, whose flavorful and simple recipes often go viral and are known to spike the sales of certain ingredients.

A bottle of Westwind Orchard maple syrup.

Eighteen years ago, Italian-born Fabio Chizzola traded fashion photography for farming, when he purchased an heirloom apWestwind Orchard year-round. While summer and fall are easily his busiest seasons, with spring spent preparing for both, Chizzola tells

A woman walking in a field surrounded by palm trees.

Holiday heart is a real thing, and as you ease back into work this coming week, you may consider jump-starting the decadClean program, founded by Dr. Alejandro Junger, an adrenal fatigue expert and the author of new book Clean 7, whose work has garnered A-list devotees in everyone from Demi Moore to Naomi Campbell. Gwyneth Paltrow, another die-hard3-day mini cleanse (which recently launched and comes with far fewer demands that make it feasible to incorporate into a long weekend). Th

A bottle of Jus Jus next to a pear, purple grapes, and a white flower.

Artist, cookbook author, and chef Julia Sherman has had her fair share of memorable meals—her popular blog, Salad For President, posts photographs and recipes of the many dishes she’s shared in the company of friends and fellow artists: jerk shrimdukkah with Joan Jonas, Gwenn Thomas, and Joana Avillez. But it was a happy accident that led to the idea of her latest projecJus Jus, a sparkling alcoholic beverage made from verjus, a tart juice pressed from unripe grapes that’s typically used as a vinegary note in salads and marinades. Sherman had