If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, Madre Nostra kombucha might be the drink for you. But please, don’t shake it too much! The fizzy drink has taken our city by storm, in no small part due to local brewer and Madre Nostra founder Louie Castorena’s vision to make the bubbly, fermented tea a staple in the Sun City.
“When Madre Nostra first started, we had a lot of people telling us, ‘kombucha isn’t gonna hit in El Paso’ and ‘El Paso is behind on everything,’” Castorena said. “They thought it was too niche and would never take off, so I am proud of being able to introduce commercial kombucha, made here locally.”
According to Castorena, kombucha is gaining in popularity because there’s a flavor for everyone, including Chica Fresa, Mango Chile Lime, Hopped Passionfruit, Oolong Rose Lemonade, Blueberry, Raspberry Lemongrass and many more. Castorena will be the first to admit that the first time he tried the drink, he was not a huge fan.
“When I first tried kombucha in 2012, I didn’t like it,” Castorena said.
But everything deserves a second chance. He tried it again and he was hooked. Castorena explained that the vinegar taste that drives most people away from kombucha is a sign that it’s not as fresh as it could be. When kombucha is freshly brewed, like Madre Nostra, it is quite light and the sour taste is covered by sweeter flavors and neutralized by the tea.
For kombucha aficionados, the hype is all about kombucha’s health benefits and its interchangeability with coffee, soda, beer, or other health supplements and drinks. Kombucha is naturally high in vitamins, probiotics and is a nearly non-alcoholic, caffeinated beverage. Around the world, bars, restaurants, and markets are beginning to sell local kombucha brands, trying to appeal to the growing demand.
“For a lot of people, this is the first kombucha they’ve ever had,” he said. “So to be able to grow that and become a standard for the kombucha that people are drinking here is awesome and makes me proud.”
Madre Nostra Kombucha began in 2016, when Castorena was making kombucha in his home. He posted several images of his kombucha to social media and a local food market reached out, encouraging him to start selling the beverage. Intrigued by the idea, Castorena began brewing small batches in a 90 square foot facility.
The business took off and almost immediately outgrew its facility as demand for the fruity probiotic tea was much higher than anyone expected.
Castorena sold kombucha at a local farmer’s market and around El Paso in several local stores and cafes. Before long, he pioneered a new market in the El Paso area and now operates El Paso’s only kombucha tasting room.
“Thankfully, this is my full-time job. My wife works full-time but she helps me out a lot,” he said.
Madre Nostra Kombucha can be found at local farmer’s markets or you can fill up a growler at their tasting room, located at 9828 Montana Ave., Ste K.
Madre Nostra’s bottled and canned kombucha can be found at these local businesses: @thehoppymonk_ep @brownstreetmarket @aurelliasbrewery @hippiegirl915 @cinnaholic.elpaso @brownstreetmarket @onegrubcommunity @viejocoffee @uppervalleymercantile @aurelliasbrewery @saltandhoneyep @saltandhoneyexpressep