The Kombucha craze is well and truly hitting the UK and as tea lovers, we’re loving this fermented tea. We’re excited to be able to bring you this interview with Left Field Kombucha ahead of our event with them on 22 May (National Kombucha Day). Pop along to our Concept Store (111 Rose St, Edinburgh) between 1 pm and 4pm on 22 May for some complimentary tastings with eteaket and Left Field. <<Bag your complimentary tickets here>>
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha has been around since 220 BC. The fizzy fermented tea originated in Northeast China and was prized for its apparent healing properties. It has been popular in Eastern Europe and Japan for centuries and was labelled “the drink of immortality”. The consumption of Kombucha took a dip during the Second World War due to the shortage of tea. In the 1960`s a study completed in Switzerland compared the health benefits of Kombucha to those of yogurt.
In recent years there has been a resurgence in Kombucha consumption. In the United States Kombucha is considered the fastest growing product in the functional beverage market (i.e a beverage which contains vitamins, amino acids and other nutrients associated with health benefits). Sales are estimated to be around $1.8 Billion by 2020. Pepsi Co’s CEO recently made the move to purchase ‘Kevita’ which is a popular Kombucha brand. Pepsi Co are known for being forward thinking with their purchases and said that they see their customers making more informed decisions when it comes to what they drink and they are looking for healthier beverages. Kombucha has certainly come back into the limelight with a bang. One company which saw the light was Left Field Kombucha below is a little insight into their story and the world of Kombucha.
Introducing Left Field Kombucha
Left Field Kombucha are a Scotland based Kombucha company brewing up some tasty fizz that’s actually good for you. Jo and Geraint are a husband and wife team. Geraint is a beer brewer turned tea/kombucha brewer. Jo is the artsy, creative half with a room full of ideas. She is also raising two future tea drinkers and has two dogs all at the same time, talk about multi-talented!
Jo and Geraint had heard about Kombucha before they started this new adventure. There interest in fermentation and tea lead to them brewing it from their home in 2016. Why start brewing Kombucha I hear you ask? Well its quite simple really, there weren’t any fizzy non-alcoholic drinks that weren’t full of sugar on the market. As Jo put it, “we were fed up of the lack of interesting soft drinks on the market. Most things were hugely sugary, and did not match with food. We wanted something that was still able to give you a feel good punch without feeling shortchanged. We came from a beer brewing background and we are huge tea lovers, so kombucha was the perfect drink! There are lots of healthy acids in kombucha which make it an everyday drink that also makes you feel good”. I agree with Jo, have you ever tried a glass of Fanta with pasta? I would take a glass of Kombucha over that any day.
How do you make Kombucha?
I asked Left Field the question on everyone’s mind, what is the process behind making a cup of Kombucha? “You start with a large pot of tea then sugar is added and a fermentation culture (called a SCOBY which is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) does all the magic. The fermentation to turn that tea (we use only the finest teas and we never add fruits or flavourings) into our healthy fizz kombucha takes several weeks.” At eteaket we think good things take time and with tea nothing is instant apart from the feeling of joy you get after your first sip.
Knowing some people find the idea of fermented tea hard to swallow, I asked Jo what she would say to convince someone to try Kombucha if they had never done so before. “I’d say if you don’t like the idea of fermented tea (most people don’t!) come and taste it and let us change your mind”.
Their Kombucha has been likened to a lambic style beer at times. Jo said, “Kombucha is naturally a tart flavour, but ours are quite delicate and there’s only one in the range that really draws your cheeks together, the Sencha Green kombucha, and it is proving a firm favourite since it was launched just recently. People always remark on how refreshing the taste is, which of course, as eteaket can attest to, it’s because it is tea, and there’s nothing more refreshing either hot or cold!”
On the subject of tea (because is there any other?), I asked Jo why it is important to use good quality tea in Kombucha. “All of our drinks are made with different foods and palates in mind, we make a Darjeeling Kombucha which we refer to as the ‘breakfast booch’. Premium teas where you can taste the tea in the Kombucha is what it is all about for us. We want to enhance this. That’s our take on Kombucha. At the tastings on May the 22nd there will be a few brands to try, and we all have a different approach on how we brew and the ingredients we use, but good tea is essential for flavour. And for life!”
The future of Kombucha
Left Field kombucha have seen a big spike in consumer interest since the beginning of this year. They recently featured on BBC Landward and it showed them that there is interest in anything and everything fermented. More and more places around the UK are now stocking Kombucha including restaurants and bars. Left Field are optimistic about the future of the beverage and the market patterns in the United States show there is definitely a reason to be!
There future is destined to be an exciting one being as they are the first UK brewer to have their Kombucha as a draught option in independent craft beer pubs. They are hoping this will take off all across the UK. There is a growing craft soft drinks market and there is plenty of room for a high quality, low sugar healthy drink that can stand alongside alcoholic drinks and shine. That is Left Field’s Kombucha, which spreads over a range of flavours including Tung Ting Oolong which I cant wait to try!
The best part of being a ‘booch brewer for Left Field is, “when people really get what we are doing which is using just excellent teas and drawing out their aromatics, and write in to tell us. It’s so nice when people take their time to do so. I particularly love to see people enjoying it over dinner. Tea is so versatile, as you know so well at eteaket, and we want people to think tea when they think of our drinks. Sometimes we see people ordering our Kombucha and it is still a thrill to know they choose it. Makes it all worthwhile.”
I finished on the toughest question of all, if you could only drink one type of tea for the rest of your life what would it be? Jo answered , “Yunnan Black is my go to tea always. It is that hint of smoke in the best batches, and that earthiness that can be drunk all day long (it is also what makes our Great Taste Award winning No.1 Yunnan Black kombucha taste the way it does)”.
A big thanks to Jo and Geraint for answering our questions. At eteaket we truly believe that tea is the most diverse bunch of leaves and buds around and Left Field is certainly showing that by brewing up some of the best Kombucha we have come across. Join us on the 22nd of May (National Kombucha day) at our concept store where Left Field will have samples of their Kombucha and of course we will have our tea to try
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Don’t forget to pop along to our Concept Store (111 Rose St, Edinburgh) between 1 pm and 4pm on 22 May for some complimentary tastings with eteaket and Left Field. <<Bag your complimentary tickets here>>