One of the peculiar and niche products that have caught on globally thanks to millennials is Kombucha.
If you have not heard of Kombucha, you are not alone. It came into the limelight mainly in the 90s, but it is only in the past decade that it has moved from the domain of home brewers and niche health food boutiques to your supermarket shelves.
What is Kombucha?
Basically, Kombucha is made by fermenting sweetened tea with a gelatinous pancake-like substance called SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).
As a result of the yeast eating the sugars in the drink, it picks up a slightly sour but largely non-alcoholic taste. The alcohol content is in the region of 0.5%.
Kombucha is widely belived to have originated in the Manchuria region of China as early as two millennia ago. From there it spread to Russia in the 1900s and later the rest of Europe.
Initially brewed on a small scale by home brewers or artisan cafes, Kombucha’s popularity has grown rapidly, attracting major corporations like PepsiCo and CocaCola.
Where Can I Buy Kombucha in South Africa?
Following the same trajectory as the western world, this beverage is gaining popularity in South Africa.
A Google trends graph for the past 10 years shows a steady increase in search terms for ‘Kombucha’ and Kombucha-related phrases.
Western Cape leads in search volume, perhaps due to the high number of tourists from western countries flocking into Cape Town.
The rising interest shows that this is a growing market and players are probably making a killing. But who are these players anyway?
Where can you buy Kombucha in South Africa?
There are two approaches when it comes to Kombucha. You can either buy the brewed beverage, or you can buy the SCOBY and brew it yourself.
The second approach is for those who want to home brew; mostly seasoned and regular drinkers. It is much more economical because one SCOBY can be reused many times over.
And the fact that it is a living organism means it produces ‘baby SCOBYs’ over time.
There are lots of tutorials on YouTube on how to brew your own Kombucha.
Where to buy Kombucha SCOBY in South Africa
In South Africa, you can buy the SCOBY from online sources like Takealot. Specialty stores like Green Heart Organics go a step further by providing you with a full starter kit that also includes a jar.
CraftyCultures also offers a starter kit.
Overall you should be looking to spend between R 250 and R 350.
If you are just starting and have probably never tried or tasted Kombucha, perhaps your first route should be buying the ready beverage.
Here there are multiple options for you, both online and physical.
Woolworths stock their own private label brand for about R 29.
Many of them also have online shops where the beverage can be shipped to you after your purchase. A small bottle of about 350ml should set you back between R 20 – R30.
The Kombucha craze is not going anywhere, and perhaps there will never be a better time for a businessman to get in.