Starting Out: JZT Ferments, Prague, Czech Republic
This is the third in the series of Booch News posts telling the stories behind new commercial kombucha brands. The inspiration for ‘Starting Out’ was NPR’s ‘How I Built This‘. Every kombucha company launched their brand in a unique way, and their story has lessons for us all.
JZT is named after the three founders: Jirka, Zdenda, and Tom. They were childhood friends who first encountered kombucha during their student days in North America. After returning home they found that–like many others in parts of the world where kombucha s not well know–they searched in vain for something similar.
Jirka started making kombucha in his kitchen. Everyone loved the taste. Soon, the three friends decided to start a company and prepare kombucha on a large scale. They were able to research the information they needed to produce at scale from YouTube videos and Googling online resources. They also teamed with other Czech kombucha brewers to discuss marketing and retail strategies. It took them a year to find a suitable building in Prague to house their brewery. They faced the challenge of finding a suitable place at a price they could afford. Production is currently at 2,000 liters a month, and they have room to double that. They ferment in 1,000-liter stainless steel tanks.
To date, the company has been funded from their own savings. However, they are open to securing loans to help them grow.
Kombucha in the Czech Republic
When they returned from their time abroad, only a few people in the Czech Republic had heard of kombucha. This is partly due to more people traveling abroad, as they did, and partly due to stories in the media. Having stalls at local farmers markets helps them educate the public. Compared to three years ago, they have seen a marked increase in the awareness of kombucha. There are now a half-dozen brands in the country, which is not many for a population of over 10 million. As with Ireland and UK, we expect other brands to appear as demand increases.
JZT is well positioned to become a leading brand in the region. They make a raw, unfiltered kombucha. While the war in Ukraine has caused a shortage of glass bottles, their 320ml servings are available in health food stores, restaurants, and cafes in Prague.
In addition to classic, pure kombucha, they sell flavored versions made with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They offer five standard flavors: OG (pure kombucha made with Sencha and Assam teas), Passion fruit, Bergamot, Strawberry/Bergamot, and Blueberry. They also develop an ever-changing number of limited edition seasonal flavors.
To hear Jirka tell the JZT story in his own words, click on the podcast below.