- December 11, 2020
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Food Files from Goa
After taking the world by storm as a health food craze, kombucha has gradually become a routine part of many people’s diets in Goa. Fans of this fermented and sweetened tea, that tastes somewhere between vinegar and champagne, frequently say it can provide a wide range of health benefits. While there is not much evidence for most of these claims, the popularity of the drink, nonetheless, is on a steady rise. From grocery stores to restaurants, cafés and hotel properties, everyone seems to be trying to cash in on this new ‘hip’ trend in the state. Planet Goa takes a sip and tells you why you should drink it, how you should drink it and where.
OHINI Rane couldn’t contain her disbelief, her brow furrowed and she did a double take. A marathon runner and supremely health conscious Rane, after finding herself in Goa for a vacation, stopped for a refreshing beverage after a tiring day riding in the sun. Rane says, “I was shocked. There it was on the shelf, an entire row of kombucha options. How did this drink get so widely accepted that a random café in North Goa is selling it alongside beer and coffee?”
Whats is Kombucha?
Kombucha is generally produced from a mixture of sugar, brewed tea (typically black) and symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or scoby. Some kombucha drinks also have fruit juice added to them.
It has an ancient history – it is believed that kombucha originated in China, where it has been consumed for around 2000 years. But it was Kombucha’s popularity mainly in the US, mainly (where it’s a multi-million dollar industry now) that propagated its reach across the world.
Kombucha’s sweet-tart taste can turn some people off — the fermentation gives it a slightly vinegary taste — but different flavours can tame the tang. Perhaps this is why although Rainon’s mango- ginger, strawberry-basil and guava flavoured kombucha
is largely responsible for the overwhelming response that he is enjoying, his signature unflavoured kombucha, albeit lighter than the tradition one, is made to order only. Things are somewhat similar with Jain too – her Mango flavoured kombucha is a bestseller, followed by green tea & lemongrass, pineapple, orange, etc., but her unflavoured kombucha remains to be an acquired taste. In line with
this thought, some restaurants have also begun to experiment with kombucha cocktails.
Case in point, the hibiscus- flavoured Kombucha at Mahé
– a modern coastal cuisine specialty restaurant in Anjuna
– has become a rather runaway hit! Equal parts Kombucha and sparkling water mixed well, topped up with a bit of sweetener, replete with lemon and mint garnishing – the end result is a fragrant Hibiscus Kombucha that is light on the palate and the body, yet extremely refreshing!
Sandeep Sreedharan of Mahé says, “Hibiscus as an ingredient has got earthy notes and it goes well with Kombucha products.
At Mahé, we are trying to take kombucha to next level to make it easily accessible to people. It is a great substitute to fresh juices, and people are loving it!” Ironically (we’ll get to the irony in a bit), fresh juices aren’t the only thing to be substituted by kombucha. If the regulars at Escobar are to be believed, kombucha goes great with white spirits and is being used as a ‘mixer’, much to the chagrin of those who worship the drink for its health benefits. Rainon’s ‘experimental’ batch of Mulburry-flavoured kombucha found takers among Old Monk loyalists. We’ve been told it goes really well with Urrak as well. (Hic!)