I’ve often wondered why I drink. What is it specifically about alcohol that I want to experience? What I do know is that when I’ve been forced to spend long periods of time in pubs and other places where drinking alcohol is the norm, there never seems to be a suitable replacement. The closest I ever came to something that was palatable, had a bit of a bite and wasn’t full of sugar was a basic version of rock soda, i.e. fizzy water with a dash of angostura bitters. But you can soon get fed up with that.

This was before I came across Kombucha, introduced to my wife by an acquaintance a couple of years ago. Now there is always a demijohn of Kombucha looking menacing on the shelf – that’s because of the great glob of mother culture in it called the Scoby – and several bottles of the stuff in the fridge. It’s refreshing, it’s got that important bite to it and it’s really good for you. What’s not to like? 

Over the last two years I haven’t given up drinking alcohol, nor probably cut down. That’s not my point – we all have our different reasons for ‘drinking’. My point is that there is a drink available that at least has some of the drinking sensation of alcohol should you wish to make use of it.

Kombucha, (a fermented tea) has become so popular that it is now made commercially, and you can actually buy it in some pubs. But I have yet to find a commercially made variety that has what I would call the true Kombucha kick to it (or isn’t too sugary). Well that was until I visited the pier last week for the Story Telling Festival and came across Booyah Vitality, made in Hastings and available from one of the sheds on the pier. This was better than our homemade variety, but that’s not surprising as it’s made by a naturopathic nutritional practitioner.

Lisa Driver’s company, Booyah Vitality, which she set up with her husband Philip and daughter, Phoebe just before lockdown, was one of those fortunate outcomes of having more time to do something different. Fortunate for them, fortunate for the consumer. As the blurb on their website explains: “Booyah Vitality drinks are packed full of vitamins and minerals providing delicious goodness for your gut and immunity.” Not only that, it’s “a natural source of probiotics; rich in antioxidants and organic acids.”

Apparently there are a whole range of benefits from drinking Kombucha and these are listed on the website. As it points out: “[Kombucha] can improve many aspects of your gut health, including digestion and inflammation, and it can even aid weight loss due to the properties in the green tea and the fact that the fermentation is a form of pre-digestion.” Incidentally, it tastes nothing like tea!

I won’t stop drinking my wife’s Kombucha any time soon, but as a treat I’ll certainly be buying the delicious varieties I tasted on the pier, ginger and lemon, and the intriguingly named Ginbucha (with a refreshing flavour of cucumber, mint and lime). 

• To make your own Kombucha read HIP Issue 156, Nicky’s Kombucha Guide.

For more about Booyah Vitality visit booyahvitality.co.uk

For more about Lisa’s work as a nutritionist and fitness instructor visit nutricionfitnesstherapy.co.uk

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