Starting Out: The Greek Gut, Athens, Greece
This is the second in a series of profiles featuring kombucha brands in Greece and Turkey that I visited this summer. It is also the seventh 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.
I met Kallia and Aggelos at City Bliss, a wonderful neighborhood vegetarian cafe in Athens.
They are currently brewing kombucha at home and have a number of direct sales customers across Athens. In addition, Kallia has distributed to Jara Bistro, on the island of Sámos where her family originated.
The Greek Gut is a female founded operation. Kallia is a graphic designer who chose the name when she noticed the typeface she was considering for her labels had a letter “G” shaped like a gut!
To move beyond the confines of home brewing, they plan to join forces with a co-packer experienced in the production, processing, packaging, and marketing of aromatic and medicinal plants. Their kombucha will have the same recipe and flavors that they have developed and tested to date.
Among the flavors on offer:
- Pomegranate Mint
- Saffron Orange
- Apple & Cinnamon
- Lavender & Pear
- Fig & Thyme
- Mountain Lemon Ginger
Mountain Lemon Ginger incorporates the unique taste of Greek Mountain Tea. Indeed, they see great potential in combining the heritage of Greek herbs with the benefits of kombucha.
We know ginger isn’t the ‘Greekest’ of flavors, but Mountain Tea sure is! Together, these two potent herbs set you free and transport you straight to your favorite hidden spot on a piece of Greek land. Hydrating and grounding, Mountain-Ginger sets you free. The classic lemon-ginger combo in kombucha is what people crave most. Ginger provides the gut with all kinds of relief while lemon soothes and replenishes the body. We like to top our brew off with natural Greek Mountain Tea which has also been used throughout the years in Greek civilization to aid in digestion and calm the nerves.
Greek Mountain Tea is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea, known in Greek as Tsai tou vounou, translating directly to “Tea of the mountain.” It is brewed using the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the sideritis plant, found in the mountain regions of Greece. Sideritis, commonly known as ironwort, got its name from the Greek word for iron, sideros. In ancient times, the herb was used to heal wounds caused by iron weapons during battles.
The sideritis plant grows wild at high elevations over 3,200 feet and flourishes in partially-arid temperatures. Essentially, this means it doesn’t need much soil, water, or care to survive. Because it is primarily found on the rockiest cliffs of the mountain sides, it is harvested in small batches.
Greece is known for the quality of the natural produce — from fruits to herbs, one simply cannot be disappointed. I want this bacteria culture to feast upon the Greek flavors and become a vital and natural Greek product, despite the tea having Middle-Eastern and Asian roots — this kombucha will unite appetizing forces!
We realized the abundance of herbs and flavors found in Greece that are not like any other. There is no coincidence why people who travel to Greece feel so drawn to it — the dreamy deep blue seas, the warm sun kisses on our skin, and of course, the earthly aromatic foods and spices. While her soil hasn’t been known to be strong, Greece is capable of adaptation, which is how it has come to be the home of many edible plants and spices. That being said, we strive to make our product as Greek as possible; we are talking, figs, watermelons, peaches, grapes, sage, mountain tea, lemons, saffron, you name it! We love a multitude of flavors found in other kombucha drinks, such as raspberry and passion fruit, but these aren’t well known in this part of the world. This is our chance to show off our soul-enhancing flavors united with our health-balancing funky tea.
Despite the potential and unique advantages of including distinctly Greek herbs, they recognize that introducing kombucha to Greece won’t be easy. While people enjoy the sour taste of their daily coffee and Greek yogurt, there’s an innate conservativism in the culture. Plus, as Aggelos shares in the podcast, there’s a rather unfortunate connotation in some Greek-speakers minds with the very name ‘kombucha’. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to learn what it is!
To hear Aggelos and Kallia talk about starting out selling kombucha in Greece, and to find out what the unfortunate association the word has for Greek speakers, listen to the podcast.