Bombucha - A drink for your gut
If you are a regular at the Sunday Farmers Market in Bandra, you’d be familiar with the cheerful couple – Monica Pawlowska and Nitin Gandhi – selling bottles of their colourful home-brewed drink called kombucha.
Kombucha, a pro biotic drink has been around for thousands of years. It originated in China and eventually spread to Japan and South East Asia. In simpler terms, Kombucha is fermented tea most commonly made with black tea; in some recipes green and white tea are used too. The tea leaves are mixed with sugar and water, after which a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is added to the mix. The bacteria feeds on the sugar and releases carbon dioxide that starts the fermentation process. “A lot of people think that a SCOBY is a kind of mushroom cause it looks like one. But it’s not, it’s a bacteria and yeast culture,” says Pawlowska, a yoga teacher who loves to experiment with food in ways that it’s nourishing to her body. “While researching about various kinds of healthy food and drinks I came across kombucha in New York. I found it interesting and started brewing it at home,” she says.
Gandhi owned a restaurant which he sold a few months ago to create something new and healthy. He too learnt about kombucha and called Pawlowska to ask her if she knew about the drink, “She said I do know kombucha and I do know how to make it. That’s when I asked her if she wanted to do something with it and she was ecstatic,” says Gandhi. The couple started brewing the drink around October, first for themselves and then for family and friends. The response they received was encouraging enough to make them launch Bombucha in the market, “Nobody was making it in Mumbai except for home brewers so it sounded like a good idea,” says Pawlowska.
Depending on the temperature and size of the batch, the drink takes 2-3 weeks to ferment. The bacteria generates acids and enzymes that are good for the stomach. Kombucha is rich in vitamin B complex which is not commonly found in vegetarian food. The antioxidants and amino acids found in Kombucha are good for the digestive as well as immune system of the body. Drinking it regularly also improves bone health, skin and hair. Kombucha is low on sugar and good for people with arthritis, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.
Plain Kombucha which is tart, slightly sweet and vinegarish in taste is perfect to drink on its own. But brewers like to experiment with flavours to make it into a fun drink and that’s what Pawlowska and Gandhi do with Bombucha, “We add cold pressed juices like apple, mango, ginger, beetroot, etc. and also add some spices, herbs, flowers for flavour,” says Pawlowska. There’s a second fermentation after adding the juices which takes around 2-3 days. Unlike the first fermentation which is done in an open vessel covered with cheese-cloth, the second one is done in an airtight bottle. The already present bacteria feed on the sugar in the juice and create fizz. The flavour of the base drink differs based on the tea and its quality, “We use only organic ingredients. Our tea comes from Shillong. It’s an organic blend with flowery flavour, light and low on caffeine,” says Gandhi.
At present Bombucha has the following flavours available: Beetroot Pomegranate, Mango Turmeric, Chamomile Date, Apple Spice, Supergreens with Ginger and Lemongrass, Hibiscus Lime and Matcha White Tea. Our personal recommendations include the Matcha White Tea for the light and slight sweet taste, Hibiscus Lime for the balance of sweet and sour and Chamomile Date for the perfect sweet tea fragrance and taste.
You can either place an order by calling them directly (they deliver all over Mumbai) or you can pick it up from the Bandra Farmer’s Market at D’Monte Park every Sunday (except during Monsoon season), Rare Earth Organic Store in Khar West, The Space in Juhu and Birdsong Café in Bandra.
Written by: Shirin Mehrotra
Edited by: Raveena Taurani
Image Credit: Budhaditya Mukhuty