A local woman is selling her own brand of an ancient Asian recipe of fermented sweet tea that’s become trendy in recent years.
The slightly effervescent drink touted for its health benefits is big business in some urban centres. Alex Pearson says it’s quickly catching on in Sarnia too.
It’s called kombucha and Pearson, 28, learned to make her own version called Kombucha Hound, in honour of her greyhound Mortimer.
She was drinking another brand of kombucha at Greens Organic Café, her sister’s downtown restaurant, when she began thinking about making her own.
She took a course in Port Elgin and learned about kombucha’s health benefits and how to ferment, flavour and bottle it, she said.
Starting with black or green organic teas, she adds a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) that looks like a large wad of jelly. As it ferments the tea turns somewhat vinegary. Pearson then removes the culture by hand and adds organic fruit, herbs and spices. A second fermentation period produces a light, slightly carbonated drink with naturally occurring probiotics with only trace amounts of alcohol, Pearson said.
Initially, she made it for family and friends in her own kitchen. After about a year working on various flavours like vanilla raisin, black cherry and lavender, she began supplying kegs to Greens Organic Café.
“It started moving very fast,” said Pearson, who works during the day as a veterinarian technician and baker.
In July, she leased a booth at the Christina Street Marketplace, where she sells Kombucha Hound on Fridays 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. It’s also available at Circle Studio in Petrolia.
To keep up with demand, she produces about 80 litres a week and sometimes works late at night bottling.
Her company is regulated by the public health unit and she is required to produce the product in a commercial kitchen.
Pearson is convinced drinking kombucha brings many health benefits. She says it’s great for cleansing the gut, easing arthritis, levelling the body’s pH balance, even soothing eczema. While many agree and claim they drink kombucha daily for its health benefits, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims.
Above all else, kombucha tastes great and gives you energy, said Pearson.
“It helps reboot your system and boosts immunity. It can also have a detoxing effect. It’s kind of like a magical drink.”
Kombucha Hound sells for $6.75 for a 500 ml bottle and $4.50 for a refill. New litre sizes sell for $13 with $8.75 refills. Pearson likes the refill-and-reuse philosophy. She also sells it on tap at Greens Organic Café for $4.50 a glass.
Pearson is hosting a workshop on how to make kombucha on Feb. 10. Call Greens Organic Café at 519-491-6366 for details.
For more, visit www.kombuchahound.com or find it on Facebook.
Got a great story about local business? Contact Cathy Dobson at 226-932-0985 or email [email protected].