A sus­tain­able fu­ture for kom­bucha

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - NINA HINDMARSH

An ar­ti­san kom­bucha com­pany based in Golden Bay is tak­ing sus­tain­abil­ity to the next level with its new bot­tle re­turn and re­fill sys­tems.

As Ma­maZing kom­bucha con­tin­ues to fill the fridges at health shops, cafes and su­per­mar­kets around the coun­try, its busy own­ers have their eyes on how to cre­ate a more sus­tain­able fu­ture.

Amira and Jo

Mud­wood sell their kom­bucha from a wagon at week­end mar­kets around the re­gion and the

Golden Bay Or­ganic

Com­mu­nity Gar­dens, where they brew the health tonic in oak bar­rels.

Cus­tomers can now bring their empty swing-top glass bot­tles for a dis­counted re­fill from the tap or a 50 cent re­turn.

Jo said Ma­maZing would al­ways be a small-scale ar­ti­san prod­uct, un­like some of the big­ger brew­ing com­pa­nies that fo­cus on ef­fi­cient mass-pro­duc­tion.

‘‘Part of what we are look­ing at is, maybe we seek to serve a smaller mar­ket and keep it lo­cal and re­ally sus­tain­able,’’ he said.

‘‘We might ship out to places which, even though they might be far away, would still re­quire that re­la­tion­ship with bot­tle re­turn, and maybe hav­ing taps there as well.

‘‘Ul­ti­mately, we don’t want to sup­port the sale of more bot­tles, we are try­ing to sell the medicine inside.’’

Kom­bucha is a sweet­ened tea bev­er­age that orig­i­nated in China thou­sands of years ago and has been in East­ern Europe, Rus­sia and Ja­pan for sev­eral cen­turies. The drink is fer­mented by a sym­bi­otic colony of bac­te­ria and yeast (SCOBY), fa­mous for its health ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­larly the gut.

De­spite be­ing fairly new to the New Zealand mar­ket, home­brew­ers have been fer­ment­ing the ef­fer­ves­cent drink in their kitchens and hot wa­ter cup­boards for decades.

Amira said the re­fill sys­tem was the cou­ple’s next big push, and some out­lets and su­per­mar­kets had even ex­pressed an in­ter­est in adopt­ing the sys­tem.

‘‘It’s the way for­ward, and for us it makes it com­plete.

‘‘We use less bot­tles that way, and still peo­ple can af­ford to drink kom­bucha.

‘‘That is ul­ti­mately what these bot­tles are de­signed for, is re­use.’’

They are also of­fer­ing the 50 cent re­turn for the bot­tles, but the up­take on the of­fer has been slow so far.

Some shops, such as Or­ganic Green Gro­cer in Nelson, Health 2000 in Motueka and Piko Whole­foods in Christchurch, have adopted the re­turn and re­fund sys­tem.

‘‘Be­cause so lit­tle is avail­able for 50 cents these days, I think peo­ple want to hold on to the bot­tle.

We tried to bring up our price to com­pen­sate for the 50 cent re­turn, and our sales went down heaps.’’

They said cus­tomers can soon look for­ward to try­ing an ex­cit­ing new brew on the hori­zon.

NINA HINDMARSH/ NELSON LEADER

Amira (left) and Jo Mud­wood from Ma­maZing kom­bucha have adopted a re­fill and re­turn sys­tem.

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