A Day in My Life
Gillian Healy produziert in ihrem Dubliner Start-up Kombucha. JOHN STANLEY sprach mit ihr über ihren Tag und den gesundheitlichen Nutzen des Getränks.
Meet a producer of kombucha
My name is Gillian Healy and I’m 24 years old. I run a small start-up company in Dublin called Gut Instinct, and we produce a fermented drink called kombucha. It originated in China around 200 BC and later spread across Asia and into Europe. It’s been quite a big trend in America and Australia for a number of years and it’s just hitting Ireland now.
People are becoming more health conscious today, and kombucha is very good for your gut. It’s made using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, known as a “scoby”, which gives you amazing bacteria. Seventy per cent of the body’s serotonin, for example, sometimes called the “happy chemical” because it contributes to well-being and happiness, is made in your gut.
I first got into kombucha because I craved soft drinks, but if I had too many, I wouldn’t feel great and my skin would break out. Then I found that kombucha, which has a rather acidic flavour, was a really good substitute — though I would say it’s an acquired taste. I think people buy our kombucha for two main reasons: they’re increasingly aware of the positive connection between a healthy tummy and a healthy mind, and they see it as a good alternative to soft drinks.
Every day is different for me, but typically, I begin my working day in the kitchen. Normally, on a Monday, for example, I start a new “brew”. I basically put water, tea and sugars into our brewing tank and then add the all-important scoby to it. It breaks down all the sugars in the brewing vat and releases really good bacteria into the drink itself, such as lactobacillus, and acetic acid, which also contribute to good health.
Our kombucha is double-fermented, with an infusion period of seven to ten days between the two brews, which is when we add flavour. So at different times, I drain off the liquid from the first brews and begin the infusion period for the three flavours we currently have: coffee, tea and our exotic rose and rhubarb. I also take batches of the infused product and start them on their second brew, which takes a further three to five days. Then there’s a busy period of bottling the product to get it ready for distribution.
My favourite part of the process is the infusion period because that’s when we get to experiment with new flavours. Experimenting is how we came up with rose and rhubarb, our current bestseller.
When I’ve finished on the production side, I usually then spend part of my day promoting our brand through social media and researching new sales opportunities. We already have a wide distribution in Dublin, which I handle directly, as well as sales outside the city, handled by a distributor.
I spend part of most days going out to clients, making sure the product is selling well and finding out if they’d like me to do a promotional tasting for them. That’s an important side of the business for us at this stage because it’s such a niche product. A few potential customers will be familiar with kombucha, but most won’t, which is why it’s good to let people see if they like it before they buy a bottle.
Ideally, we’d like to go into export markets, but I want to get our name established in our home market first. England is already quite a developed market, with a number of kombucha microbreweries there. However, I think that when we’re ready to look abroad, Germany will be one of the first places we’ll explore. After all, a lot of their foods are fermented, like sauerkraut or pickled onions.