‘Often kombucha drinkers experience a natural high’ — Louise Avery of Lois & the Living Teas

Lois & the Living Teas is the creation of Louise Avery, a brand that produces a select variety of kombucha teas stocked throughout London. With her recent book Living Tea: healthy recipes for naturally probiotic kombucha, Louise has put together an informative read for those who’d like to discover more about kombucha. This is the perfect read if you want to be schooled on everything from the health benefits of this fizzy brew, to how to brew your own. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to delve a little deeper so we grabbed Louise out of her busy schedule to ask a few questions about Lois & the Living Teas, and kombucha

For those who aren’t sure, what is kombucha and what does it taste like?

Kombucha is a naturally sparkling fermented tea full of probiotics, beneficial enzymes and anti-oxidants. It has quite a distinctive taste, both sweet and tart, with a refreshing lingering fizz. Often kombucha drinkers experience a natural high after drinking it, which might be due to the high probiotic content, but also could be the green tea…

What is a SCOBY? They look pretty strange floating about in their jars…

It does look strange, I agree! However, it is extremely functional, and is the culture that we use to digest the sugar and turn the tea into a functional probiotic drink. The word SCOBY actually stands for ‘Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast’. The straggly brown yeast strands can be particularly alarming to the uninitiated but are all part of a healthy functioning natural fermentation.

What are the benefits of drinking kombucha?

Kombucha is widely known for its high probiotic content resulting from the fermentation process. Probiotics are linked to a healthier microbiome (gut health), better digestion and absorption of nutrients, treatment of anxiety and natural energy boosts. Kombucha is also believed to be high in glucaric acid and anti-oxidants which detoxify the body, and glucosamines which are used for treating joint pain. I personally find that it has improved my digestive health, helps to alleviate my anxiety, and gives me an energy boost when necessary.

How did you get into making it?

I started making it after falling in love with it on a trip to Vermont in the States, where I tasted it on tap. I couldn’t believe it that there was a fizzy drink that could have a genuinely positive effect on one’s health. I could not find anything vaguely microbrewed at that time in the UK (six years ago), and so I set to work making my own – as all obsessive foodies tend to.

Rhubarb Fizz

What are your top tips for making kombucha at home?

I would say to follow the instructions clearly, i.e. to let your tea cool to room temperature before adding your culture (therefore not killing it), to not add less than 80g sugar per litre as this is for the culture and will get consumed – but starving your culture will ultimately create an unhealthy brew. To have patience and to experiment, experiment and experiment more as you will naturally get a feel for what works. Making kombucha is not linear, there are many different combinations of tea and secondary ferments and everyone’s will taste different. This is the beauty of it in my mind.

What are some of the best flavour combinations you’ve created?

My current favourites are those with flowers added such as hops or rosebuds, and I love to use it as a sour ingredient, and vodka substitute in cocktails such as a Virgin Mary. Probably my absolute favourite is one I created with my boyfriend, which is a pear, cardamom and lime sour and has a bit of sweet, a hint of sour and a long finish.

Tell us a little about Lois & the Living Teas. How did it all start and where can we find your kombucha to try?

I started the business from my kitchen two years ago and sold a few bottles to my friends who had cafes in Islington in London. Two things happened quickly; it became popular and gave me the confidence to seek more stockists and to grow it into a real business, and a literary agent approached me after tasting it and suggested I write a book on the subject of homebrewing kombucha. I am now in the process of planning and building a fermented foods brand with new business partners and building a larger brewery to expand to the rest of the UK.

Where can we find your new book?

The book is called Living Tea: healthy recipes for naturally probiotic kombucha and is currently on sale online on Amazon, Foyles, The Book People, Wordery, Hive, The Book Depository and more…

Have you made kombucha? Let us know in the comments below…

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WRITTEN BY:
Sami Sharaf

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Learn to make basic kombucha

Test out Louise’s own recipe, here.

 

Recipes and photos by

Recipe from: Living Tea by Louise Avery (Ryland Peters & Small, £9.99)
Photographer: Clare Winfield