Where to find your fix of this healthy, fermented iced tea
Tasty, with a side of gut health. It could very well be the tagline for kombucha, the mildly effervescent fermented black or green tea that’s become the newest wellness trend.
Goans, it appears, love kombucha. They are making it, they are drinking it and they are selling it. Kombucha can be found on supermarket shelves, general stores, restaurants and cafes. There are subscription services available for those who need their daily or weekly fix. There’s even a restaurant dedicated to it: The Coffee and Kombucha Bar in Anjuna.
“We were taken aback by the response to our kombucha,” says Aditya Ishan Varshnei, who started Borécha with his brother Anish last year and now, retail across the state. “There’s a huge shift in consumption patterns, spending power and people care about what they put in their body. Social media teaches you a lot. They want to experience what people consuming in other countries. It has become a trend product. It is not just healthy, it’s also fun.”
Interestingly, for a new health trend, this drink has been around for years. Its origins are contentious: some trace back to China in 220 BCE during the Tsin Dynasty where it was popular for its healing properties whereas other stories place its origin in East Russia. The name comes from the Japanese kombucha, which is technically a tea made with kelp, but was mistaken for a fermented tea.
Kombucha is simply made with tea, sugar, yeast, and that all important ingredient, SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOBY, usually referred to as the ‘mother’ is added to sweetened tea and left to ferment for a few days or weeks till it turns into a slightly tart fizzy drink. Its benefits are said to be many, though none have been proven. But, kombucha drinkers say it is packed with probiotics, and improves gut health and its natural fermentation process results in good bacteria that aid digestion.
In India and Goa, kombucha is a relatively new entrant but fast gaining popularity.
Craving some kombucha? Here’s a guide on where to find your kombucha in Goa:
Hombucha Kombucha, Panjim
Kezer Godinho’s wife, Tatiana Radchenko introduced him to kombucha two years ago. Initially he didn’t like it, but slowly the flavour grew on him. Stuck at home during the lockdown this year, the couple decided to start selling their kombucha.
“Most of my marketing is dedicated to spreading awareness about the drink,” says Kezer. “There is a lot of demand. We have teenage customers who drink this daily.” As part of their bid to educate people, they’ve kept their rates low so “people can consume it daily, if needed”.
Hombucha Kombucha uses fresh fruits for flavours – Classic, Green Tea, Pomegranate, Apple Cinnamon and Pineapple. They offer a monthly subscription. They also stock at different restaurants across the state including the family-run Godinho Bar and Restaurant in Panjim. In the future, they plan on introducing a bottle-back scheme, offering a free drink or other reward for customers who return their glass (milkshake) bottles.
30ml - Rs 90; 500 ml - Rs 120
Call 9923749971 | Visit Hombucha Kombucha
Brew Biotic, Saligao
When Rainon Fernandes started drinking kombucha, it was a relatively new drink. A friend had shared some with him and he immediately took to it, making his own batches. “At the time, this was something new in the market. People didn’t know about the drink,” he says. He saw an opportunity and quit his accounting job and to make kombucha. Brew Biotic initially started small, selling from stalls at Hilltop flea market. He soon moved to selling to different restaurants.
Rainon has a small set up in his Saligao home where he brews batches of 50-200 litres in flavours like Mango Chilli, Strawberry Basil, Jamun, Raspberry Ginger, and Guava. There’s nothing artificial in his drink. “My kombucha is mild to taste and thus, ideal for those who are usually put off by the tartness of the drink,” he says.
1000ml - Rs 325
Call 8010820939 | Visit Brewbiotic
Swiss Happy Cow Cheese is an artisanal cheese brand, much loved by many, run by Barbara Schwarzfischer. She’s now selling kombucha too. It was this kombucha that caught Conrad Braganza’s attention last year. As someone who plays with flavours for a living – he is a blender at Desmondji Premium Craft Spirits, he decided to start brewing his own kombucha to create a version he liked. “I was my customer. I would experiment with five litres, and consume it all. I started giving it out to cousins and friends too. Then a friend suggested we take this bigger,” he says.
CommuCha (the community kombucha) started retailing in February this year. It’s a small set up and he makes around 40 bottles a week, selling to a small community of regulars. Braganza has created 18 flavours like Elderflower, Passionfruit, Peach, Espresso Caramel, Apple Cinnamon and Rose Cardamom. He uses fresh ingredients – turmeric and lemongrass are from his garden, and imported cordials for flavours like elderflower and peach. One of his most polarizing flavours is the masala chai, for which he uses freshly ground spices and jaggery.
Conrad has managed to get others interested in making their own kombucha. He sells the booch in alcohol bottles, sourced from Owl House (a community centre for individuals and families with neurological differences), and has a take-back bottle policy for customers.
750ml - Rs 150
Available on pre orders only
Call 9307217598 | Visit Commucha
Kombucha by Pratyusha, Saligao
In 2013, Pratyusha Jain was living in the US when she got introduced to kombucha, which was just gaining popularity. She enjoyed it so much that she picked up SCOBY from a local brewery and started making her own. In 2017, she moved to Goa and continued her daily practice of drinking kombucha. On the advice of a friend, she attempted to sell the drink, approaching nearby cafés and restaurants in Saligao. Last year, she quit her job as a senior consultant to focus on kombucha.
Pratyusha started with ‘safe’ flavours like mango, lemongrass (sourced from her garden), and passionfruit. Recently, she launched a new ‘COVID-inspired flavor’. “Ever since the lockdown began, I have been drinking warm water with lemon, honey and turmeric, so I decided to create a flavor [Golden Glow] using the same ingredients,” she says.
1000ml - Rs 400
Glass bottles are charges are extra
Call 93022 38229 | Visit Kombucha by Pratyusha
Ferment Station, Panjim
Buland Shukla started fermenting during the lockdown as a way of “making ingredients last longer”. “Fermenting is apt for our times, you never know when you need extra food,” says the architect and musician. After the years of eating outside food, he thought it was time to give his gut a break and feed it some good bacteria.
Buland now has several cultures brewing, for ginger ale, hot sauces, kvass, sourdough and kombucha. He takes orders for small batches under Ferment Station Goa. Kombucha comes in kokum, classic and mint (which pairs well with urrak) and will soon expand to plums, orange and ginger.
330ml - Rs 75
Visit Ferment Station Goa
Aditya and Anish Varshnei moved to Goa two years back from the USA to start a beer company. The brothers are owners of Latambarcem Brewers, and just launched their first beer.
Aditya discovered kombucha while living in New York and drinking it became a daily habit. After the move to Goa, he found himself missing the fizzy drink, so decided to brew it himself. Anish, a trained chef, broached the idea of marketing the drink and that’s how Borécha came to life last year. The name Borécha translates to good tea in Konkani. They spent six months developing the product and flavours. “We started out of a small shed in our brewery, and it caught on instantly. We saw a 200% growth and are now India’s largest distributor of kombucha,” says Aditya.
In Goa, they retail out of 150 stores, restaurants and supermarkets. Besides the classic version, they sell flavours such as Mango, Roasted Coconut, Cola, Guava Chilli, Rose Cardamom, Cuban Watermelon, and Pina Colada. They don’t use fresh fruit, but extracts and the drink has no artificial preservatives. “We have created a shelf-stable product that lasts for up to six months. It is designed for the Indian market, and is light on the palate,” he adds.
330ml - Rs 160
Available throughout Goa. Visit Borécha to order online.