Kombucha in the UK: Part 2 of 2

In my last post I reported on what I’d seen about the ‘booch scene on recent visit to the U.K.  I noted the availability in High Street shops and the surprising amount of the drink that’s imported into Britain from as far away as Oregon and Australia (green footprint be damned?)

During my visit, I also enjoyed sampling kombucha in specialty health food shops, restaurants and cafes, pubs and airport terminals.

While there’s nowhere near the availability we enjoy in the States,  the kombucha scene in Britain is changing rapidly.  If you have updates on new outlets for ‘booch send me an email or leave a comment below.

Specialty Shops

First sold in the USA in health food shops, kombucha then moved into the mainstream. It’s no different in the UK. Today, the  main UK supermarkets only stock a very limited selection. But the natural food shops and cafes I visited in England and Scotland carry a much wider variety.

I found a great deal on  Go Kombucha brewed down in Sussex at the Liv Food Market in Liverpool. It was only £4.99 ($6.50) for a large 750ml bottle. Their Red Pu Eh is appropriately bold & earthy as it’s sold on Bold Street! They also carried Jun from Manchester-based Loving Foods — an increasingly popular alternative to kombucha that uses honey for fermentation.  It was on offer at £3.29  ($4.28) for a 330ml bottle.

 

Restaurants & Cafes

I enjoyed my first taste of the high-end brew Real Kombucha from Wendover in Bucks at James Koch’s new Suncraft Cafe on the Gloucester Rd in Bristol. It was £3.50 ($4.55) for a 330ml bottle. They also stock London-based Wild Fizz Kombucha for the same price.

One of my favorite breakfast places, whenever I’m in London or New York (he said, channeling his inner Tyler Brûlé) is Le Pain Quotiden. The Borough Market location stocks SynerChi Kombuch  from Co. Donegal, Ireland in three flavors. Just the thing to compliment a tasty pastry!

Across the street from Liv Foods in Liverpool, Leaf offered  a palate-clearing Dry Dragon from Real Kombucha. The only thing I’d change about this welcoming cafe & tea emporium that’s a real community hub is their slogan. How about Where there’s kombucha there’s hope?

Remedy Kombucha — imported from Australia  — is available at  Balance  across Waterloo Rd from the Young Vic on Lower Marsh Street.

The Pub Scene

Britain, unlike post-Prohibition America, has a thriving pub scene. Kombucha brewers like Left Field and Real Kombucha are brewing unflavored, single tea strain,  ‘booch suitable for distributing to pubs in kegs. I enjoyed a foaming pint of No. 2 Sencha Green  at Atelier in Berwick-on-Tweed, just down the road from Left Field’s Eyemouth brewery.

Greene King pubs have just announced they will stock Australia’s Lo Bros Kombucha at a price of £3.40 for a 330ml bottle.

David Begg spoke in the Guardian about major expansion plans underway for Real Kombucha:

Real Kombucha, will soon be rolled out in 320 Fuller’s pubs. In less than a year, Real Kombucha has reached almost 50 Michelin-starred restaurants, almost 300 top hotels and 55 Laines pubs.

Home Brew

I was delighted to discover kombucha being brewed at the Resbite Cafe in Bristol’s Old Town near the St Nicholas Market. They serve organic vegan and gluten free foods and even have a small hydroponic garden at the back of the shop. The ‘booch I sampled was delicious and came in a half-dozen flavors. It’s offered at the low price of £1.30 ($1.25) for a medium glass and $2.00 ($2.60) for a large glass.  Not sure which flavor you like? They’ll pour you a generous taste to help you decide.

Finally

As I was waiting for my flight back to San Francisco in Terminal Two at Heathrow I spotted LA Brewery ‘booch (from Suffolk, not California!) on sale at the Leon Naturally Fast Food cafe. Look for the red bull and pick up a couple of 300 ml bottles for £3.45 ($4.50) before you board. It’s a great alternative to the sugar-laden sodas the airlines serve. Flying to LA? Taking along some LA kombucha would be a no-brainer, wouldn’t it?

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3 Responses

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks to Green Tree Kombucha’s Instagram here’s an impressive display of kombucha on the shelf at @wholefoodsuk in Kensington, London!

    Whole Foods London

  2. the_editor says:

    An informative article from August 2018 on Why Kombucha May Be The Next Big Thing In Europe by the experts at Kombucha Culture. They note:

    While awareness around healthier alternatives has grown in the US over the last decade, the European market has long outpaced its western neighbor in organic food sales. In 2016, Europe was one of the largest markets of kombucha, behind the Americas, with the UK, Germany, and France driving industry growth.

    Though trends around probiotic and fermentation foods are coming to a head in Europe, the craze still trails behind the US. Kombucha-oriented brands are sustained by the US West Coast, where the top five cities for 2017 sales were San Diego, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Spokane.

    Part of the hesitation in the European market may have to do with European retailers response to new and trending concepts like fermented foods and beverages. Though fermentation in foods is on the rise globally, Europe has been “slow off the mark,” according to Brian Owens of Rhythm Health, a maker of coconut-based kefir beverages and snacks. Some have speculated that this is due to European manufacturers and retailers being slower to respond to the consumer demand than other markets. This real or perceived sluggishness may have to do with EU probiotic legislation and the history of a difficult regulatory environment for probiotics.

    Infrastructure and supply chain issues may also be contributing to slower growth in some parts of Europe. The process for fermenting and manufacturing kombucha is lengthy and intensive, and some suppliers aren’t able or willing to dedicate the required equipment and resources. But the list of producers in the UK and Europe is growing.

  3. thanks for the information

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