The Gary Leigh Interview – Part 1 of 2
Gary Leigh, the owner of Go Kombucha, Sussex, England, sat down for an interview with Booch News. We spoke for over an hour. In Part One of the interview (30 minutes), Gary shares the story of the founding of England’s original commercial kombucha business. Check out Gary’s blog for a series of brutally honest posts about the origins of the business, his 20-year journey, the impact of the COVID pandemic, the death of his father, and a series of financial and personal challenges. In Part Two, he shares his views on the risks he sees in using plastic-lined aluminum cans, the challenges anyone starting a commercial business faces, and the overall state of the industry.
It all began in 2003 when Gary visited friends at their boat house by the Thames in Hampton Wick. They served a strange fermented tea to visitors. Enthralled by the taste, he left his successful publishing career, sold his London apartment, and helped his friends launch a commercial company.
They had studied the book Kombucha Tea for Your Health and Healing by Alick Bartholomew (“the grandfather of UK kombucha”) and initially named the brand Boat House Kombucha, then Gaia Kombucha, before settling on Go Kombucha.
Twenty years on, Go Kombucha claim they have
Been brewing the UK’s authentic and trusted kombucha without compromise, never veering from the original Ancient Chinese recipe or small batch production method, nor taking short cuts or using artificial processes to speed up production.
The company is based in an old family vineyard on the Sussex Weald, where their water has unique “Schumann Resonance” properties. This is:
…energy that magnetically energizes/electrifies our naturally purified spring water some 50-60 feet below ground where we brew in rural East Sussex; the land above being entirely unspoiled in any way. Any pendulum dowsing our booch literally swings 360 degrees, as earth energy imbues our kombucha.
That these higher vibrational energies are now incoming and accessible to all who are dedicated to the evolution of consciousness and genuine progress – that is, the focus on all things positive/high vibrational, be it love, peace, understanding, etc. – is a sign we’re soon to ascend from the current level of chaos still playing out from the Age of Pisces to an expanded, fifth dimensional level of consciousness and awareness.
Full details on the origins of Go Kombucha can be found on their blog. Some highlights:
- Fermented tea in the boathouse
- Funding the Boat House brand
- Gaia Kombucha moves to Sussex
- Ramping up in 2007
- Relaunching in 2010
The Go Kombucha website is fully enabled for online, direct-to-consumer sales. They supply direct to a discerning online customer base within 1-2 working days across most of the UK. Gary reports that he makes a decent living selling directly to around 3,000 regular customers.
The varieties on offer (except for Ginger Sencha) are OG ‘booch that feature the tea flavor instead of added fruits.
- Red Pu-erh 750ml Organic Red Pu-erh tea is bold, earthy and craft cider-like, with plenty of punch – and lots of oomph!
- Yunnan Gold 250ml Organic Yunnan tea has an aromatic, smoky edge with russet apple and ripples of caramel, and is a great non-alcoholic alternative to craft ale.
- Darjeeling Black 250ml Second flush organic Darjeeling tea from the Lingia tea estate on the Himalayan foothills has a complex body and muscat black grape note.
- Green Sencha 750ml Organic Green Sencha tea is light and mellow with crisp notes of elderflower and apple, like a medium white wine.
- China White 250ml Organic Pai Mu Tan delivers a delicate, smoother tang with fragrant notes, like a teetotal Prosecco.
- Ginger Sencha 250ml – Organic Sencha tea infused with piquant and peppery organic ginger juice for a warming and invigorating kick.
Shipping is via APC, a specialist glass carrier that ensures the product reaches customers promptly.
In both the choice of direct-to-consumer distribution and focus on quality teas, Gary’s Go Kombucha is aligned with Ronald Chapdelaine’s STEALTH Naked Kombucha in Massachusetts. It’s fair to say both men are iconoclasts who proudly stay true to their firmly held beliefs. This is undoubtedly the case with the care they take with their specific production techniques.
Gary claims that
Almost all “kombuchas” sold on the high street today are, at best, filtered and artificially carbonated, at worse pasteurized and/or with added “proprietary” probiotic powder blends (genuine kombucha is naturally occurring and therefore can’t be patented) The addition of industrially-extracted sweeteners and sugar alcohols like steviol glycosides and erythritol further impair the taste profile and can irritate the gut lining, interfere with levels of good bacteria and cause digestive issues like bloating and diarrhoea – the very antithesis of real kombucha!
The key to our authenticity is we are a small batch booch biz that knows the limits of making real, no-nonsense kombucha by hand just like you would make at home and not being tempted to scale up for mass production and the corners that would need to be cut and the artificial processes applied along the way. What you are really investing in with GO Kombucha and imparting your hard-earned cash for is nothing innovative in and of itself, but rather years of learning, finessing and fine tuning that has enabled us to perfect what can be achieved in any home with the same amount of patience, perseverance and tenacity, and of course the guarantee that every bottle is a lip-smacking hit – it can take many misses before you do, finally, get the balance and taste just right!
Tune in to the podcast to hear the story of Go Kombucha in Gary’s own words.