Profile: Shropshire Kombucha, Shrewsbury, England
Shropshire Kombucha is based in the English market town of Shrewsbury, 30 miles to the west and a world away from the industrial cities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham. It’s a delightful rural area (close to the mythic county of Borsetshire, celebrated as the essence of rural England for over seventy years on BBC radio.) Owner Charlotte Walters sells her home-brewed kombucha at weekly and monthly farmers’ markets in Whitchurch, Nantwich, Ellesmere, Shrewsbury, and Ludlow. She also has a few local stockists in and around Shrewsbury.
I was sorry to have missed her when I recently visited Nantwich, near my hometown of Crewe, the one time in the year she was unable to attend.
Interestingly, her brand is identified with the location, with echoes of the iconic Shropshire Blue cheese, and firmly rooted in a very “foodie” English county. Artisan foods predominate, and locals can now enjoy authentic, home-brewed kombucha alongside other gourmet offerings.
Charlotte began her retail career in 2016, selling imported German chocolate tea cakes on Ludlow Market. When COVID hit, imports ceased, and she switched to kombucha, which she had already been brewing at home. She has grown her business from selling by the glass to shifting a few hundred bottles a week. As a one-person business, she is limited by the available space in her home and the hours in a day. It’s labor-intensive production with brewing, bottling, and labeling all done by hand.
She is happy with the income, which, together with her husband’s full-time work, supports the family. The business has reached a stable level, given her current level of investment, and she’s reluctant to take on debt to expand.
Charlotte enjoys the support of a loyal group of repeat customers. Many subscribe to her mailing list, which announces her market schedule and flavors on offer.
Charlotte finds inspiration for her changing line-up of flavors from locally foraged, sourced, and even gifted ingredients. She brews a couple of varieties of green tea and always uses whole fruit, not fruit juice or artificial flavors. Recent finds include:
- Quince from a customer’s garden in Ludlow.
- Rosehips foraged from the hedgerows at Attingham Park.
- Elderberries foraged from the banks of the River Severn, flavoring an apple, damson, elderberry, and ginger ‘booch.
- Blackberries from the hedgerows and nettles from the riverbank.
- Star flower (borage) from the Little Wytheford Farm sunflower fields. Borage has a subtle taste similar to cucumber, combined with fresh strawberries to make a perfect summer kombucha.
- An heirloom apple, Genette Moyle, a favorite for cider brewers since the 15th century, gifted by a Ludlow customer from her garden.
- Bullaces (wild plums) from the same customer, that, together with some fresh raspberries, made an apple, raspberry, and bullace blend.
Listen to the podcast to hear the story of Shropshire Kombucha. The phone connection to her rural home is a little ragged, but the information comes across loud & clear.