The Bucha Story
Born and raised on a farm in central New South Wales, Australia – not quite in the outback; not quite not in the outback – I clamored for my mother’s home brewed ginger beer at every turn; my prospects to savor this effervescent brew being irritatingly limited by the equally clamorous nature of my five younger siblings. My mother prudently sequestered these volatile concoctions beneath the floorboards of our home to ferment, where some would sporadically and harmlessly explode, usually in the middle of the night, transforming our slumbering cats into a panicked frenzy as they shot, often quite athletically, from beneath our house to the relative safety of the night (my sister complained that some were so traumatized they never returned). Accompanying this was the inevitable riot of barking dogs, jangling the nerves of those attempting sleep, magnifying the chaos in our already raucous household.
Fast forward several decades. Rolling Hills, southern California, summer of 2008. Indolently surfing the internet one afternoon, on a wave of nostalgia, I searched for my mother’s ginger beer recipe. Instead I discovered, to my surprise, that it was possible – common in some quarters – to home-brew kombucha. I’d been drinking a commercially available brand daily for the past four years, so the opportunity to brew it myself, and at considerably less expense, intrigued me. Purchasing a $13 ceramic water dispenser for $150 (creatively marketed, thanks to the spigot, as a ‘continuous brewing system’) I was, within a couple of days, in the middle of my first kombucha fermentation. As luck would have it my first batch turned out to be very tasty. Flush with success, I acquired a second ceramic water dispenser, paying $13 this time, divided my pellicle in two, and embarked upon my second kombucha fermentation, this time with two ‘primary fermentation vats’ (otherwise known as water dispensers) in action. Again the result was delicious; far better than any of the commercially available varieties.
Compelled by friends and family we began home brewing it on a slightly larger scale (14 vats), experimenting with flavors and conducting taste test parties in the neighborhood. It quickly became apparent that if we were to produce this on a commercial basis we’d need a fermentation microbiologist. Frank joined us and we began a year of product development. The goal was to develop a suite of kombuchas that were, like most of the others, low calorie with live culture, but distinguished from the others by being very good tasting. We set up a taste test panel that met monthly and tasted and assessed our latest round of developments. The collated results of these monthly taste panel meetings then informed Frank’s next round of flavors. Iterating flavor development monthly in this way we eventually arrived at two suites of three flavors – our tisane suite (Verbena Rose, Masala Chai and Blood Orange) and our vivid fruit suite (Grapefruit Sage, Guava Mango and Kiwi Passion – Kiwi Passion has since been replaced with Lemongrass Ginger).
Amongst this tantalizing mélange of flavors is a little inspiration; a small celebration of the deliciousness of natural fruits, herbs and spices creatively combined and minimally processed. We hope you enjoy our offerings and we look forward to your comments and suggestions.
– Bern Galvin, Founder