Perhaps you have spotted Booch Organic Kombucha owners Shawn Slade and Shannon Kamins selling Booch at the Covent Garden Market, and wondered what was inside the bottle of kombucha.
Slade explains that kombucha is a fermented steeped tea beverage made with sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). After some time, the yeast culture and bacteria are removed, creating a tea filled with probiotics. Organic ingredients then flavour the kombucha, which is fermented again before it’s bottled.
Slade adds that the bubbly beverage has ancient Chinese origins, and was called “a main elixir of life”. The fizzy tea became popular in recent years after “some scientific research has shown that kombucha does have beneficial probiotics, and yeasts, and acids in a beverage that are going to help aid and heal an individual’s digestive system,” he says, adding that kombucha contains electrolytes, a touch of caffeine and b-vitamins.
Slade explains that selling Booch is “an opportunity to educate and make people aware that fermented foods and probiotics are [a] very important part of a healthy lifestyle.”
Before starting this business Slade was a holistic lifestyle coach and personal trainer. “Shannon herself has had digestive problems for a very long time in her life,” he mentions, “Through her healing her gut in her journey, she had discovered fermented foods, and started making kombucha.”
Booch Organic Kombucha has been popping up in about 70 Southwestern Ontario retailers and restaurants in the past year. Mike Fish, co-owner and sommelier of Glassroots, serves the product in his new Richmond Row plant-based eatery. He says that along with a media focus on gut health and the push to support local businesses, Slade and Kamins’ marketing is another reason why Booch has spiked in popularity this past year. “They’re at a lot of events and they are very supportive of other businesses as well.”
With regard to the soaring demand, Slade notes “We do try to source things locally, with focus on environmental sustainability, so our core values of the company really, I think, resonate with people and that also creates a lot of interest in what we’re doing.”
Booch Organic Kombucha’s values were reflected when they created 250 bottles of a special First Anniversary brew. Kamins describes the flavour, as a “very smoked maple syrup flavour with a citrusy pine taste”.
In the beeswax sealed bottle, there is amber maple syrup from Mt. Forest, smoked schisandra berries from Port Stanley restaurant The New New Age, and white foraged pine needles from Aylmer.
“We really wanted to highlight the fact we really care about supporting local farmers, but also educating the public on what’s seasonal at that time,” says Kamins.
Their passion for environmental sustainability is reflected in their London retail store and brewery plans. Proceeds from their loyalty card will support the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. The card will be made out of seeds. “We’re motivating people to actually plant the seed once they get their free kombucha to grow flowers to help the bees.” Also, bottles will be refillable at the store.
Glenn Whitehead, principal of Plant Matter Kitchen, said Booch was one of the first businesses they contacted, because of similar values. “Organic, local and plant-based are three really important things for us, and Booch hit all three right out of the park.” Whitehead added the restaurant hopes to use the product in margaritas and other beverages made with organic vodka, gin, and/or tequila.
Other restaurants are experimenting as well. Stephen Hotchkiss, owner and herb crafter of the New New Age in Port Stanley said they also make Booch ice cream floats, and “elixirs” combined with cold pressed juice. Hotchkiss has become close friends with the owners. “Their passion for their product comes through in every bottle and they are truly some of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever met.” Glassroots also has Booch on the menu, and will be serving a Lemon Basil Gin and Tonic with lemon juice, gin, basil and Booch tonic water.
Slade and Kamins offer some Booch cocktail recommendations and other recipes including a rhubarb cardamom vanilla drink. “It’s a fun way of enjoying Booch and just having a good time outside.” Slade suggests Citrus Twist in a mimosa, he adds that customers have found Raspberry Lemon “goes great with vodka on a hot summers’ day.”
What’s Next for Booch?
The pair’s London retail store and brewery will be launched with the loyalty card program, bulk cases of kombucha and six flavours on tap. Seasonal flavours such as Rhubarb Red Bud Raspberry and original favourites including Citrus Twist and Raspberry Lemon will be served.
Slade and Kamins have recently opened a retail store in Toronto. “It’s really nice to be able to grow and get out there more so people can try something that we make with our love,” Kamins says.
Booch Organic Kombucha
1010 Dundas Street, London
The website includes a list of locations where Booch Organic Kombucha is sold or served.