I’m a sucker for a small, local business with a heart. I fell head over heels for So Good Kombucha before even tasting it. Could it live up to the hype?
Let me start this off by saying that prior to writing this article on UK kombucha I’d never tasted it. It was loosely on my radar, but wasn’t something I was particularly drawn to. I’m not a huge fan of soft drinks anyway. I find fizzy drinks too gassy and either taste of synthetic sweetener or they’re full of sugar. I’d rather have my sugar in cake form! I’m very much a cocktail or glass of wine or G&T person. I like tea and coffee. I love water… but that does mean that if I’m on a (rare!) night out and I’m driving, I don’t really know what to order. Alcoholic free versions of alcohol seem a bit pointless to me, there’s only so many coffees I can drink before I’m buzzing off walls and seeing sounds, and although I love water, if you’re out “for a drink”, it does seem a bit boring.
Anyway… the reason I’m writing this is that one day I stumbled across Derbyshire based entrepreneur, Lesley So on Instagram. I always love to see women kicking ass in business, particularly when they’re local and even more so when their business is grounded in values I believe in myself. So I was intrigued by Lesley’s newly launched company, So Good Kombucha. Just a quick mooch on their website and I was blown away by the sense of social purpose and the ethical business model. So Good Kombucha completely embodies the Lovely Local Indie ethos so I knew immediately I wanted to feature her and her social venture on the blog. I loved the passion and craft(wo)manship but even more so the ethics behind the business and the stringent environmental policies. To be honest, if Lesley was selling anything with this business model I’d be interested… but would I actually like kombucha? And what even is it anyway?!
So, what is kombucha?
Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is a fermented tea based on an ancient Chinese recipe. Its origins are thought to go back over 2000 years but Kombucha’s popularity has sky rocketed in the 21st century, as people look for alternatives to mass produced fizzy drinks.
Kombucha is made by adding a ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’ (known as a SCOBY) to a solution of tea and raw cane sugar. During the fermentation process, the culture metabolises the sweet tea components to create a naturally carbonated beverage full of healthy components like B vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and very low trace amounts of alcohol and sugar.
So Good Kombucha is proudly handcrafted in Derby and uses a family SCOBY nicknamed “mui-mui” (which means “little sister” in Chinese). The So Good Kombucha is unfiltered and unpasteurised to maximise the gut-healthy bacteria and nutrition. But this does mean it needs careful storage. Avoid shaking and keep the bottles refrigerated at all times. The drinks are living so will continue to age in the fridge. Pay careful attention to the best before end date (and compared to traditional soft drinks this seems very short). As the kombucha ages it may develop sediment deposits as fruit pulps and tiny fragments of the SCOBY sink to the bottom of the bottle. Although a bit yucky looking, this is actually a sign of an authentic kombucha and is absolutely safe to consume. I didn’t notice any sediment in the samples I was sent, but I drank them relatively soon after they arrived.
It’s raw, vegan, organic, low sugar, gluten free and considered non-alcoholic (although if brewed at home potentially can contain a fair bit of alcohol).
What are the health benefits of kombucha?
Known as the ‘elixir of life’ in ancient China, there are reported numerous health benefits of drinking kombucha. These include being a source of probiotics, which can promote good gut health; being high in antioxidants and contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and B vitamins B1, B6 and B12.
I did my own research into some of the health claims. And found everything from alarmist scare stories to almost evangelical reports of it being able to cure a myriad of health concerns. The joys of the internet! This article seems to strike a sensible balance.
Commercial kombucha, like So Good’s, contains less than 0.5% alcohol (homebrew likely to be much more!) however if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or alcohol intolerant it is recommended that you should contact your GP before consuming. It’s also worth noting that there is some caffeine in kombucha and that people with a comprised immune system might want to avoid it.
So Good Social Values
Something that immediately jumped out to me was the strong ethical purpose of So Good Kombucha. They aim to be good for our planet and our communities.
One of the aims of the company is to plan to support, train, and employ refugees and other marginalised groups. They collaborate with, and give 10% of their profits to, local charities. These include Upbeat Communities a Derby based charity supporting those seeking sanctuary from war, persecution and conflict, and Derby City Mission who offer many services for people in crisis such as Safe Space homeless night shelter and the Street Pastor Programme.
An Eco-Friendly UK Kombucha
In Lesley’s own words, So Good Kombucha is “obsessive about finding ways to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint”. Single use plastics have been banned from their packaging. You might even find the paper label on your bottle is a little wrinkled because of their committed stance to avoid plastics. The company is working hard towards zero-waste in all its operations. You can even return empty bottles to selected vendors to be cleaned, sanitised and reused or they’re fully recyclable via normal kerbside collections.
If you’re interested in environmental issues, you might be interested in my previous post about eco-businesses in Derbyshire.
What does So Good Kombucha taste like?
Lesley kindly sent me one of each flavour to try. The first thing I liked was how they weren’t overly fizzy – more lightly effervescent. I’m not a huge fan of cola, lemonade etc as always find them a bit too gassy but the So Good Kombucha was lovely. What I loved was that they didn’t taste overly sugary nor have that horrible chemically taste of artificial sweetener.
All three flavours were super refreshing. I expected to like the Elderflower Mojito the most – I felt it was more mojito than elderflower and I would have preferred a stronger elderflower flavour but it was still very refreshing. I absolutely loved the two other flavours. The Strawberry & Basil was divine; so fruity and sweet. And the Gingerlicious, was a wonderfully fresh and fiery yet citrussy mix of organic ginger, lemon and turmeric.
I enjoyed each flavour with lots of ice in a big wine glass. It felt like such a lovely, grown up soft drink. It felt just as relaxing and as much of a treat as savouring a glass of wine, but felt fresher and more hydrating. Perfect for the hot weather we have enjoyed lately. So Good Kombucha would be a good substitute when everyone else is on the cocktails and you’re the designated driver! I would definitely buy again, whether online to enjoy at home or if I saw it on a bar menu.
So Good Kombucha is currently available to buy online and available in several bars across Derby and Derbyshire, currently Bradman’s Wine Cellar in Duffield, Vedi vegetarian café and Yada Collective alcohol free bar both in Derby with more stockists coming soon.