My Mum and the great kombucha test
Can the Amplify team turn my Mum into a kombucha fan in just one day?
Let me tell you a few things about my Mum. Her name is Susan, she lives in Sydney, loves the theatre and takes university courses just for fun at the age of 75. She is also one hell of a good sport because when I volunteered her to be a kombucha tasting guinea pig she should have told me to jump in a lake, but she didn’t. Which is how we found ourselves standing together outside the Amplify kombucha brewery waiting for a tour on a refreshingly sunny Thursday morning.
Seriously, what is kombucha?
Having seen kombucha on supermarket shelves for some time Mum admitted to some curiosity about it, but she’d never tried it. She had heard me talking about kombucha for years, but my ravings about what a fantastic low-sugar drink choice it is were not enough to make her try it. What was holding her back? A big part of her hesitation was not really knowing what kombucha was, but that was all about to change.
Mum and I were greeted by Amplify’s chief brewer, Sam, flavour guru, Meg and marketing man, Joe. They told us it was time to suit up and presented us with sturdy boots, lab coats, hair nets, eye protection and earplugs. We got into our safety gear, were looking fabulous and were ready to start the tour. Before we stepped inside though, Mum had a question. What is kombucha? Meg had a simple answer for her: “it’s fermented tea”. Seriously? Yes, but we were about to find out that a lot of science, skill, delicious fruity flavours and a little bit of luck goes into making it taste so good.
Mum with Meg, Joe and Sam ready to start the tour.
Let the tour begin
We entered the flavour and bottling facility for Amplify and took a moment to take it all in. There were conveyer belts, huge vats where flavours were being mixed before our eyes and a machine that rotated the bottles a bit like they were doing a cartwheel and made me feel like we were in a kombucha version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
We watched as a skilled team supervised the bottling of that day’s flavour, Peach and Mango, which gave the air a sweet summer scent. Meg informed us that every single Amplify batch is taste tested by a member of the team to ensure the flavour and fizz levels are just right.
Good things come to those who wait
I already knew that to make kombucha you need a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) as I have brewed kombucha myself at home, but the concept was new to my Mum. She was fascinated when Sam told us that the whole Amplify brewing set-up started with just one SCOBY that has over time multiplied into dozens, some of which now weigh over 60kgs.
My first kombucha brew took weeks and was an agonising process of waiting and tasting and waiting some more. It seemed to take forever. To the Amplify team that was nothing with Sam informing us that some batches take 12 weeks or more, essentially as long as it takes to get it right. Once fermentation is complete, natural flavours are added before being bottled, ready to drink. Which brings us to the fun part, tasting kombucha. Wonder what Mum will think?
The Amplify team set up the taste test challenge for mum.
Name that flavour
While Mum was busy taking off her hairnet, coat and earplugs we decided to play a bit of a prank on her. Instead of showing Mum the Amplify flavours and giving her them to try one by one we mixed them up and didn’t tell her what she was tasting. After the first sip there was a long silence. Well? “I don’t dislike it,” said Mum. Not an overwhelming response, but we were just getting started. We moved onto the Pineapple and Coconut, my personal favourite. “I prefer that,” said Mum. The next three - Apple and Blackcurrant, Peach and Mango and Passionfruit Lemonade - were nice but it was the last taster of the day that had Mum finishing her sample with relish. The Amplify flavour winner of the Mum taste test was: Ginger and Lemon.
Mum in her favourite reading chair with a bottle of Amplify kombucha at hand.
More than just a pretty face
Mum was convinced by the taste, but wait, there was more. Kombucha is a great choice for your health. The Amplify team explained exactly how low in sugar their kombucha is (all Amplify kombucha contains less than 1 gram per 100ml) which makes them a great choice for diabetics - like my Mum - and it is fermented, which provides live bacteria for your gut.
I asked Mum why it took her so long to try kombucha and she said: “it just didn’t look like my kind of thing.” What about now? The very next day I snapped a picture of her reading with a bottle of Amplify Pineapple and Coconut by her side. I couldn’t believe it, after years of me telling her to try it, Mum had finally discovered kombucha.