East Anglia is the county for Grand Cru kombuchas, and 2021 is a particularly exciting vintage for living tea. The kombucha wave doesn’t seem to have crested and certainly hasn’t crashed yet, with two seaside breweries collaborating to produce the first sparkling “rosé” kombucha.
Suffolk-based producers Adnams and LA Brewery, have launched Suffolk Blush, made from fermented, high altitude, chemical-free green and black tea. It’s blended with strawberries and rhubarb, and infused with floral hops.Drawing its flavour profile from Adnams’ most popular wines, it’s best enjoyed chilled as an aperitif or as an alternative to celebratory fizz.
Established in 1872 by George and Ernest Adnams as an independent Suffolk-based brewery, in 2010 Adnams became the first brewer in England to build a distillery on the same site, which is where it now creates award-winning, handcrafted spirits, including the Copper House Dry Gin and Longshore Triple Malt Vodka. The brewery produces a range of cask, keg, bottled and canned beers and owns and manages nine hotels, pubs and inns as well as several retail stores.
LA Brewery is a kombucha microbrewery based in an old air base in Rendlesham. Founded in 2017, the brewery also makes lemongrass, ginger and strawberry and black pepper kombuchas. “I had never tasted anything like it before,” says founder Louise Avery. “It was tart and fizzy and delicious.”
The non-alcoholic, sparkling English rosé kombucha is made with Assam and White Monkey tea with rose petals and elderflower.
The daughter of an artist and architect, Avery was brought up on Mull, briefly attended Chelsea Art School and lived for six years in Italy. She started making her own drinks and studying fermentation and came back to London where she started supplying her homebrews to local independent restaurants and cafés. “I delivered the drinks in milk bottles on my bicycle!”
She teamed up with her now-business partner Cawston Press, whose founders, the entrepreneurs William Kendall and Mark Palmer, saw potential in her business and helped launch LA Brewery in 2017.
“Our new non-alcoholic brewery is in a disused aircraft hangar in Suffolk. My experience with the local Aldeburgh Festival meant I knew the county was a real heartland for innovation in food and drink and the natural place to bring a new and uniquely British craft drink to the moderation movement.”
The Adnams wine team combined their knowledge along with Louise’s expertise in fermentation and kombucha a complex and gently sparkling drink rather than a non-alcoholic wine. Kombucha is fermented with aerobic fermentation so that whilst the yeast consumes sugar and produces alcohol, the bacteria simultaneously converts that alcohol into acetic acid, keeping alcohol levels as trace.
“I worked out very quickly that you can manipulate kombucha to taste like anything from a champagne to a beer or a cider depending on the way you ferment the tea and the fruits and the flavours you add.
“Whilst kombucha is traditionally famous for its health benefits and therefore sometimes perceived as inaccessible, I fell in love with its taste: tart, sweet, sour with fizziness and viscosity – or ‘grip’ – that sits on your tongue. I saw the opportunity to make this more accessible to everyone and create non-alcoholic drinks that were exciting, innovative and could bring a bit of sparkle to the days when you’re not drinking.”