On my quest to discover the good and the great/the interesting and the innovative at this year’s Lunch! Show, I was delighted to learn of the wonders of Kombucha. I’ve shared my new discovery with my friends at Foodservice and Retail Marketing Agency, Jellybean, and now I would like to share them with you…

For Kombucha virgins, it is essentially fermented tea, made by adding specific strains of bacteria and yeast to a solution of sugar and black or green tea, before it then ferments for at least one week. The fermentation process produces acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, along with trace levels of alcohol and gases which make it naturally carbonated. The end result is a slightly sweet-tart flavoured soft drink that is brimming with healthy components including B vitamins, organic acids, antioxidants and probiotics.

If not served ‘raw’ – look out for Original flavoured versions – Kombucha Tea goes through a second short fermentation in order to take on exciting flavours. The brewer will add flavourings such as lemon, fruit juice or herbs and spices, to give the beverages unique taste profiles.

As for the Kombucha category itself, it is currently worth an impressive $500 million, and as the fastest growing functional beverage category, it is expected to double in the next 10 years*.

So with my new-found interest in Kombucha, off I went around the Lunch! Show floor to experience more fermented tea…

Wonder Drink: Kombucha
A wonder drink it certainly is! Full of healthy probiotics and polyphenols, it offers support with healthy gut and liver function, removes toxins and destroys free radicals, to list but a few of the possible health benefits. The first national Kombucha brand to offer bottles as well as cans (convenient 250ml cans at that), Wonder Drink Kombucha is available in three variants:

Asian Pear & Ginger (made from Organic Oolong tea) offers a fruity, aromatic and sweet profile with a spicy note.

Green Tea & Lemon *my favourite* (made from Organic Green tea) carries a clean, refreshing, tangy citrus tartness with a sweet finish.

Traditional (made from Organic Oolong tea) according to the brand, is for the tea connoisseur who savours the straight-up flavours of premium teas. NOTE: I was not brave enough to try this!

Kevita: Master Brew Kombucha
Certainly the Masters of the Lunch! Show stands. Glorious copper piping, foliage climbing the framework, dry ice cascading down the front of the stand…it was enough to draw me in from across the room before I even read ‘Kombucha’! A 10-strong range of bold brews, Kevita Master Brew Kombucha boasts a smooth consistency and taste. Fermented from the brand’s rare kombucha tea culture with organic acids and organic caffeine, it is verified non-alcoholic and tastes ruddy great!

Lo Bros: Organic Cola Kombucha
Cola you say? A tea it is not…or is it? This impressive drink bottles Kombucha up in a cola guise, but is still very much based on fermented tea. Infused with botanical spices and citrus extracts, the soft drink ferments green tea and oolong tea, as well as raw organic apple cider vinegar. The end result, inspired by an original 1878 recipe for live fermented cola, delivers a classic cola taste with millions of gut-loving bio-cultures that is naturally low in sugar. It’s also lovingly brewed in Berkshire and much like its Kombucha komrades, is organic, dairy free, gluten free and vegan.

So it is, that I left the Lunch! Show with knowledge, passion and a Kombucha kraving that I have now most certainly sated with a few bottles and cans of flavoured fermented tea! If you haven’t tried it for yourself I recommend you do as a priority. As the biggest thing to hit the drinks market since cold pressed, it will doubtless be coming ‘atcha’ soon.

*Kombucha Brewers International

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