Our kombucha first started brewing in our home kitchen around five years back. Then to a rack at a balcony, to a corner of our restaurant; and now, to a new zip code to Matai. Kundo had stumbled upon this interesting fermented beverage on the internet and started reading on it. We got excited and ordered a SCOBY (this is what the kombucha mother is called) all the way from US of A through Ebay (remember that thing?!). It was not available at all in India back then. We started brewing 2 litre batches for our own consumption. We had just read about it back then and had no idea how it would taste. And when our first batch was ready, we had our first taste. It tasted great! And made us feel great too. We had given up drinking soft drinks for some time and I desperately needed something to fill the gap. This was it!
We experimented with different teas and proportions and got better at brewing over time. When we started doing secondary fermentation (that’s when we add flavours and seal it up to hike up anaerobic fermentation) it was a whole new level. We were making delicious carbonated drinks in our kitchen. We felt like gods! Screw-ups did happen along the way. Terrible tasting brews, flying corks, gushers, explosions etc. punctuated our story. We still have a huge stain on the ceiling of our kitchen from an experiment in secondary fermentation involving bananas!
Back then, we didn’t have a restaurant. We were making natural soaps and running a design studio; trying to navigate the realities of living as adults and in Imphal. Kombucha was just one of the many weird things we were into. Occassionally we used to serve visiting friends and family and they loved it. We gave away bottles and SCOBY and recipes to whoever was into it.
So when we did start a restaurant, one of the few thing we were sure about was that kombucha would be on the menu. However, we never thought it would get this popular. We had to keep adding new fermenting jars (the ones you are seeing here in the first photo) as demand went up and we kept shifting our space to accomodate them. And since we started bottling, we realised that it would be better for us to be prepared to brew a whole lot more! So we are moving to our farmhouse at Matai. It is a quaint mud house that we have used for putting up art exhibitions, hosting visiting artists and travellers, organising gigs, kids’ camps and what not! For the coming year or so, this will be our home.
Next, we are working on building a proper workshop at Matai with semi-automatic equipments to scale up our kombucha brewery and make it reach new places. New products are in the pipeline too. This is a project we had pitched in StartUp Manipur and got selected. If everything works out, we may have this facility running in a year. Fingers crossed.