My Top 10 Favorite Kombuchas (Reliably Good!)

Today, I'm celebrating my ten year boochiversary! Ten years ago, I discovered the amazingness that is kombucha. OK, I should actually back up a sec. When I first tried it, I didn't actually like it. I thought it tasted vinegary and weird. But then, after time, something magical happened. I tried another flavor ("Gateway Grape" as I used to call GT's Divine Grape) and I was hooked.

WHY do I love kombucha so much? For one thing, it's healthy. When my body feels a smidge rundown, it asks me - in no uncertain terms - for a kombucha. In my experience, it's rejuvenating, immune-boosting, and restorative. However, it's also just a reaaaaally yummy thing to sip and savor. I enjoy my kombucha as some might enjoy a fine wine. A really good booch is a thing of pure heavenly perfection . . . but a bad one can be devastating. 

I mean, let's say you're dying for a booch fix. You need one bad. Real bad. We've all had days like that, where we just need a nice cold band-aid for what ails us, right? You go to the store, buy a kombucha, and then BAM. It's as flat as a sidewalk. SO sad! So, here's what I've learned - when you really need a good kombucha, rely on the ones you know are going to deliver. Hence, this post! That's how much I love you. : ) 

Tess's top 10 reliable favorites:

1. If you're new to kombucha, a good one to start with is GT's strawberry. It tastes like fizzy strawberry candy. I consider it to be the new Gateway Grape.

2 and 3. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere you have access to Kombucha 221bc, they make some pretty epic booch. My two favorite flavors are the ginger and orange turmeric cinnamon. Oh how I miss them since I moved back to Colorado!!

4. This next one, I really turned a corner on about a year ago. I never understood why this was a best-seller until I realized it was ALWAYS fizzy. You gotta respect that in a booch. No bad days for Trilogy.

5 and 6. If you're ever in Denver, you simply must make a trip to Happy Leaf kombucha bar. YES A KOMBUCHA BAR AND YES I ALMOST DIED WHEN I FOUND OUT. (I was brought back to life with kombucha, obviously) You can get a kombucha flight (right??!!), but my favorite is their salted grapefruit. It's heaven. 

However, in all fairness, I ALWAYS get a flight there, and then I get a glass of my favorite flavor from the flight. If they're out of the salted grapefruit, there's invariably another flavor I'm excited to have more of. So, the official recommendation here is a flight AND a glass of their best, which is often the salted grapefruit!

And I highly recommend hanging out at the bar, and enjoying your kombucha along with some nibbles (they have some great vegan items on their menu). Plus, their staff has never been anything short of delightful!

7. I waited til now to tell you I'm celebrating this Boochiversarry with my dear friend/cousin/soul sister/fellow booch addict, Stacia Aashna. This next kombucha is one that she suggested I include. As I mentioned earlier, some people don't like kombucha due to the vinegary taste. This next variety, made by Live Soda, is sweeter, without a trace of vinegar flavor. 

Personally, I've come to prefer a more tart kombucha over the last few years, but in all fairness, Live Soda was my favorite for a long time. They really reminded me of the sodas I grew up on. My favorites were the root beer, lemon-lime, and most notably, the cola, as I was a diet cokehead all through my youth - and this really took me back!

8. Another GT flavor I totally rely on is Passionberry. The passion part (from passionfruit) takes me back to the time I lived in Hawaii, while the berry part is from blackberries, my absolute favorite kind of berry! And again, I've yet to have a Passionberry let me down in the fizzy department. Always a good time.

9 and 10. Disclaimer: Two of my favorite GT flavors are ones I hesitate to mention, because I've been let down many times. It's really a crapshoot with these two. About 37% of the time, they're flat. But when they're good, they're really really goooooood. So, I gamble. 

Plus, I have a little trick to increase my odds of finding out how fizzy they'll be. First of all, I look to see if any of them have bubbles or foam where the liquid ends at the top. Then I very gently shake (GENTLY!!!) to see how much action I get. If that little nudge-shake movement yields some bubbles and promise, I bite the bullet and gamble my life away. Have you ever had a really good, fizzy Guava Goddess? Totally worth all those other times. BLISS.

So that's it. I've had other great kombuchas in my day, but none I can give my pure, unwaivering endorsement to. I haven't been paid (even in kombucha, which is kind of tragic) to write this, I just wanted to share with you - so that you too can feel confident when choosing a booch. 

Celebrate with me? Get a kombucha (or three) today and share a photo of yourself with your favorite flavor. 

Thanks so much for stopping by - and CHEERS! : )


p.s. I haven't made my own in a while, but I plan to start again very soon. When I do, I'll refer back to my step-by-step guide on how to make your own at home! It's cheap, easy, and fun!

How I Manifested the Relationship I've Always Wanted

Last week, I took the advice of my brilliant fella and delved into the world of writing deeply personal blogs. I started with this post, called "I'm Falling In Love With a Meat Eater." I knew it would be a little controversial, given that I've been vegan for about 25 years, and this is the first time I've ever dated a non-veg man. However, as I stated in that article, it's also the first time I've had the kind of relationship I've always wanted but never had.

One of the things I mentioned in the article (and talked about on my Periscope channel) was that I'd written a "Wish List." Have you heard of those? In alignment with the whole vision board thing, a Wish List is a list of things you desire in a partner. 

So, let's back up for a minute here . . . Although I spend much of my time talking about the amazingness of great vegan food and writing cookbooks, I'm also really into the spiritual side of things. I run a women's holistic weight loss group called Be Radiant, where we focus mainly on inner work. I meditate. I put daily effort into co-creating the life I want. I believe in magic and the goodness of the Universe. I also believe that we live in a "YES Universe" that says "YES!" to what we focus on and what we desire. 

The longer I live, the more I not only believe this stuff, but live it. I can now look back on old relationships and honestly say that, while imperfect, I did get what I asked for - and was open to. As I mentioned in my "I'm Falling in Love with a Meat Eater" article, I've been married twice. Before meeting my first husband, one of my must-haves was someone who was skilled at extreme outdoor sports. I got what I asked for, but as it turned out, his ability to scale iced waterfalls in January didn't make for a deeply compatible partnership.

Before meeting my second husband, I'd revised my "Wish List" to include more of what I wanted. However, there were still many vital items I'd left out (such as great communication). Honestly, I think at the time I was less open than I am now to really getting what I want. Maybe I didn't totally feel like I deserved it? Maybe I didn't think someone like Jim (my current fella) existed? Maybe a combination of the two. Anyway, I once again got what I asked for, but the lack of healthy communication made for a short relationship, despite our compatibility in the kitchen.

I'm also a big believer in getting to a happy place after a breakup - before even thinking of diving into another relationship. The summer my second husband and I broke up was a rough time for me. I cried, I dealt with the feelings of loss, anger, and sadness - and I grew. And then . . . I got happy again. I got ME back. I was my old joyful self, but even stronger from the experience. And when I felt ready to be open to another relationship, I made another Wish List. 

This time, I reaaaallllly wanted it to be different. After two "failed" marriages (I don't actually believe in failure if we learn from our experiences), I wanted the next relationship to last. I wanted to write a Wish List that covered ALL the bases. I was willing to ask for what I really, really wanted - and to be single if that person didn't show up. I also decided (and I think this one might be pretty important) that I would be HAPPY single. In fact, just as happy single as I would be in a relationship. 

As Jim said to me last night: "It was so important to me to meet someone who was happy on her own, so that we could co-create a healthy, happy relationship from two happy people." OK, that wasn't EXACTLY what he said, but I wasn't taking notes, and that was totally the gist of it. Jim says some pretty cool stuff. I love that we both get how important it is to keep our selves happy and fulfilled, and not depend on each other to do that. It creates so much space for a healthy relationship!

OK so how about that list? What did I put on it? A LOT, I tell you! It was a very long list. However, every item on it was deal-breaker material. For example, #45 was "if he has kids, he's an amazing dad." And #23 was "very thoughtful and considerate." Another key point was "Excellent communication skills. A give and take of listening and talking - and the ability to be comfortable together in silence." Yeah, I got specific. But all of those things are pretty key for me. 

Do you know what WASN'T on my list? Superficial stuff. I didn't say how tall he had to be, or what color his hair needed to be. However, I did specify one key thing: I had to be naturally attracted to him. I don't know if you've ever done this, but in the past, I've occasionally tried to force myself to be attracted to certain men. I've done the whole "He's suuuuch a great guy, and he's good looking, so I should be attracted to him. I'll give it some time." 

So, yeah, that never worked for me. Not once. I'm starting to think there's a lot to chemistry. Just plain old chemistry. We're attracted to who we're attracted to for a reason. Of course, there needs to be MUCH more than physical attraction, but if we don't have that, it makes it pretty hard to be in an authentically romantic relationship. With Jim, it was there from the moment I saw him. I was like "Um yeah... that works for me. Oh yeah." Which is a whole other story - how we met. I'll tell that one soon. : )

So, make that list! Ask for what you really want! Make the list specific, but not limiting. Don't box yourself in with unnecessary details. ALLOW the Universe to do its magic and deliver perfection to you! Be OPEN to getting exactly what you want. And then trust that your goodness is coming to you in perfect timing. Because timing is SO important. Both people have to be in just the right space in order for it to work. 

Sometimes when we think we aren't getting what we want, it's just because the timing isn't right. Maybe your magic man needs another month to become 100% healed from a past relationship so he can make room in his heart for you. Or maybe he's just traveling, who knows? But don't doubt the process. Just get clear on what you want, ask for it, and then make the space to receive. You know what? That last sentence was so important, I'm going to repeat it again . . . Just get clear on what you want, ask for it, and then make the space to receive. Keep that space open. Create that void. Be happy in your own life, and love the crap out of yourself. Know that you deserve the best. 

Because you do. 

I'll blog more on this soon - it's a really fun topic for me! I'm also planning to do a Periscope with Jim soon. Be sure to follow me there (@tesschallis) for live videos about this subject, as well as on my other passions (for delicious vegan food, health, and more). And please comment below, and share this article if you're moved to do so. : )

Thanks so much for stopping by!

I'm Falling in Love with a Meat Eater!

At the suggestion of said meat eater, I'm also diving into the world of sharing more personal posts - starting with this one! Honestly, it makes me a little nervous to share what I'm about to share, but I'm also excited. I love hearing personal stories from others - they're often the place I draw my greatest inspirations from, and I hope you'll find something valuable here as well. : )

Below, a picture of us soon after we started dating (excuse the shadows) . . . 

My omnivorous man, whom we'll refer to as Jim (because that's his name), is the first non-vegetarian I've dated in a loooonnng time. In fact, I went vegan in 1991 and he's the very first non-veg guy I've dated since. I've actually been married twice - once to a vegetarian, and once to a vegan (who went vegan the day we met). Obviously, those didn't exactly work out, despite our compatibility in the kitchen. There are SO many factors that make up a healthy relationship. 

Shortly before meeting Jim, I'd decided to tweak the things I was looking for in a life partner. Instead of saying "vegan" I said "vegan-friendly." (He's great about eating vegan meals with me and would never step foot in a McDonald's for example.) I also added things like "kind, caring, nurturing, giving, great listener, responsible, truthful, optimistic, brilliant" and many more to my wish list. And I got them all. Jim is all of that and so much more. (p.s. I highly recommend making a "wish list" if you're single - don't be afraid to have high standards and wait for the best to manifest!)

My list before meeting Jim was very different than it was years ago. I've let go of having to have the things that aren't actually to do with who someone is as a person, and how we relate to each other. For example, before meeting my first husband, I wanted someone adept at outdoor sports. He had to be good at rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, that sort of thing. I got what I asked for, but in the end I realized that those things have nothing to do with how happy our relationship would be.

Also, a few real-life inspirations from within the vegan community have moved me. Most recently, an article by my friend JL Fields had me in tears. She and her hubby Dave are such a beautiful couple. I'm also lucky enough to know Ellen Jaffe Jones and her long-time husband Clarence. Although he's decided to go vegan very recently, he didn't start out that way, and it even inspired one of Ellen's books, Kitchen Divided. Well, I've been in that divided kitchen of theirs several times, and I have to say that although the food was separated, the love and respect between them was palpable. 

OK, so back to my Jim. How could I not fall in love with someone who gives the world's best backrubs (no exaggeration, people - OMG) and does stuff like THIS for his kids on camping trips?? (photo of the slackline he rigged for them, above) 

Still, I'm honestly surprised that I'm able to let go of our food differences, as they used to be such a huge criteria for me. However, I'm the happiest I've ever, ever been in any relationship. And who knows? Maybe he'll go vegan someday - but I'm not about to force him into it. After about 25 years as a vegan, I've learned that you can't make anyone be vegan. All you can do is cook them amazing food (hence, why I write cookbooks) and be a good example. 

One last thing I want to share - something even more personal . . . I'm finally figuring out the key to having an amazing relationship, and it involves something I like to call "Overcoming Blocks." It's something I work on all the time with my ladies (I run a women's holistic weight loss group called Be Radiant). They find that discovering their blocks is KEY to finally removing obstacles that previously kept them from their goals. For example, many of them had a subconscious thought that they didn't deserve to lose weight and be vibrantly healthy. Just as some of us may think we don't deserve an amaaaaazzzing relationship. It's key to unearth those negative beliefs so that we can become aware, question them, and turn them around. 

I've been applying those yummy, transformative principles from my Be Radiant group to my relationship with Jim. Any good relationship will challenge you to be your best self - and part of that is letting go of anything and everything less than that. I've been majorly challenged to let go of my negative, limiting beliefs about relationships and I have to say, it's incredibly liberating! As a result of becoming aware and turning around those limiting beliefs, I've become much more open to how amazing things can be. In fact, Jim and I want to eventually start working as a team to help others get empowered with their own relationships. It's pretty exciting stuff. : )

And the food side of it? Well, it's not perfect. I don't love seeing him order meat when I'm noshing on my beans and rice. But I'm also not about to force anything on him before he's ready. I'm just going to keep accepting and appreciating him for the incredible person he is, cooking delicious vegan food for him, and choosing to love what IS. Because what is, is pretty damn good. 

Thanks SO much for stopping by! Please share this article if you feel moved to do so - and please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!