GT Dave on Kombucha secrets and how to improve your health

GT Dave on Kombucha Secrets and How To Improve Your Health


GT Dave’s story is definitely very inspiring. A successful entrepreneur and true visionary, he is the founder and CEO of GT’s Living Foods and was the first one to bottle Kombucha commercially (at age 15!), creating white space on the market which is now worth billions of dollars. Growing up with an Eastern Philosophy and a spiritual view of the World since his young age, GT Dave and his family were curious about Kombucha’s ancient healing properties and decided to brew their own batches of this fermented tea.

[mepr-show rules=”7108″ unauth=”message”]In 1994, his mom Laraine was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer and during her treatment, she kept following a healthy lifestyle including a plant-based diet, physical activity, and drinking Kombucha which helped her healing faster, surprising her doctors. Inspired by his mom’s experience and her recovery, GT’s mission became to make his own version of Kombucha accessible for everyone. In our conversation in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we discuss the importance of boosting our immune system by adopting healthy habits. GT’s commitment is to protect his brands and products and ensure it all stays real and authentic as day 1. Passion over profit.

What quote or mantra defines you best?

GT Dave: The mantra I use every day is: “There’s no time like now.” This speaks to me as I’m all about living each day to its fullest and as well as being present in the moment. 

Can you tell us what is Kombucha and its benefits?

Kombucha is a fermented tea that originated in China around 221 Before Christ.  It earned the name “Drink of Immortality” as it was religiously consumed for its immune-boosting and digestive supporting benefits. Very similar to other fermented foods such as apple cider vinegar, kombucha is rich with organic acids that cleanse and detoxify the body while replenishing the good bacteria in our microbiome. Its benefits range from healthy skin and hair to increased energy, stronger immune system, improved digestive health, and weight loss.

Kombucha is everywhere now but you were the first to bring this drink to the market. Do you remember this feeling after selling your very first cases to Erehwon? ​

Yes, I was the first to bottle kombucha commercially because I quickly recognized it was very special. I realized that I would not reach as many people if it remained only a homemade beverage. 

Erewhon was the store that I shopped at as a young boy so it was naturally the first store I thought of to sell my product. Going into the store to pitch my raw Kombucha was surreal because I felt having my product there was going to be challenging. So, when that fateful day came and I walked in (as a 15-year old) with my Dad to “sell-in,” I was greeted with a series of “yes’s”. The store agreed to my price, and they wanted it delivered ASAP. It was very reassuring that I was onto something great.

Was it a success right away?

Yes, it was. I sold out of my first shipment the same day and delivered more the next day. Luckily, I had my mother who would visit Erewhon and give out samples and share her personal story of how Kombucha improved her health. 

Kombucha is very popular in the US thanks to you GT Dave. What about in the rest of the world? What is the difference between other drinks like Kefir for example?

Kombucha continues to grow in popularity around the world. Certain countries like England and Australia have seen a quicker jump in brands and therefore have a more developed market. However, the true knowledge of what is Kombucha has not increased at the same rate. This is causing confusion and blurring the lines of Kombucha versus new age soda. The primary difference between Kombucha and other fermented drinks is that Kombucha needs to be made with a Kombucha culture (aka SCOBY) and needs to have a really bold bite which is an indication of its fully fermented qualities.

How would you define success?

Success to me is being happy, loved, and helping others.

What was your last Google search?

My last search was Oregano Oil which I’ve started taking to boost my immune system even more.

We are having this conversation in the midst of this worldwide pandemic. More than ever, health awareness is important. What advice would you give to boost our immune system?

I think the coronavirus is shining a bright light on how we are all connected more than we realize. We are one race, one planet. 

COVID-19 also raises awareness about the importance of being healthy and resilient. People with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk which reaffirms that we all need to prioritize nutritious food and exercise as a daily practice.

How did you manage to preserve the integrity and quality of your product while growing your sales?

Quality and Integrity have always been the two primary pillars of my approach to life (with continuous improvement being the third pillar). These core values are the “true north” for my company which we all follow every day to ensure an uninterrupted focus on what matters most. Purpose over profit.

Like we mentioned before, you were first to introduce this drink to the market. What is your biggest challenge today facing those new competitors seeing the market opportunity?

The biggest challenge is seeing that the BIG FOOD brands that have entered the space with one objective in mind: capture market share and grow sales.  This, unfortunately, comes at the cost of quality and potency which is what makes Kombucha more than a “new age soda”. But since these brands have big marketing budgets and significant distribution, they are speaking louder and wider than my brand. The unfortunate outcome is they are slowly and adversely changing the narrative of what Kombucha stands for.

We interviewed Nadine Barner, a macrobiotic teacher who started to learn about nutrition and food as medicine after being diagnosed with cancer. Do you have a specific diet? What is your favorite food?

My diet is simple: I’m plant-based and I eat to live (as opposed to living to eat). My favorite foods are persimmons and yams as they are both nutritious and delicious.

What is your wellness and self-care routine?​ Do you have any “not so healthy” habits?

My routine is designed to ensure I’m healthy; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Therefore, I eat well, exercise every day, meditate twice a day, get 8 hours of sleep, and drink lots of water. The closest thing to “not so healthy” is probably some fried veggies that come my way now and then. But it’s not often and I limit my consumption.

Who inspires you the most at the moment?

My mom has always been my muse, mentor, teacher, and best friend.

Besides Kombucha, what is your favorite drink?

I love water kefir as it’s like a lighter version of Kombucha that you can drink anytime.

You are born and raised in LA. Where would you take people who come here for the first time?​

I personally enjoy art and the outdoors. Therefore, I would probably take them to Runyon Canyon so they could see the city from a bird’s eye view or to museums like The Broad or MOCA.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I try to do something new as often as possible. The most recent “first-time” event was skydiving from a plane at 15,000 feet.

Who should we interview next?

The Dalai Lama.

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Learn more about GT Dave and the story and purpose behind his brand. [/mepr-show]


Romain Wawrzyniak is our Editor-in-Chief. His enthusiasm and kindness make his guests feel comfortable creating intimate conversations and priceless insights.

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