k Kombucha k
k The tea of life k
I have to say over the last few years I have become a little bit kombucha obsessed. Here in Ibiza I am fortunate be able to get my hands on this wonder drink directly from Master Brewer Mark Frydrychowski at who produces his own label Tea of Life Kombucha…and it’s selling like gluten free hot cakes all over the island. For those who do not know, it is essentially it’s a fermented tea-based beverage that uses a starter culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) that transforms the sugars into organic acids making a probiotic/gut-healing wonder drink that aids digestion, cleanses the liver and balance the pH of the body. The drink has a slight effervescence and a sweet-tart flavour with ginger notes. It’s a proper thirst quencher I find it one of THE most refreshing drinks I have ever tasted – even great as a cocktail mixer if you are feeling a little naughty, so you can detox as you retox. Kombucha has been around for centuries, originating in Asia it has been touted as a magic elixir curing everything from digestion problems to arthritis and even cancer (two regions in Eastern Europe the Solikamsk and Berezniki districts were found to be nearly cancer free due it its inhabitants drinking kombucha everyday). It has long been popular with alternative-health gurus but it has hit the mainstream becoming a global health drink trend due to its incredible immunity boosting powers and astonishing health benefits. We are seeing it being guzzled by movie stars and celebrities galore. Ayurveda teachers and even holistic doctors are recommending this “ancient elixir” as a cleansing detoxicant and to treat a whole host of digestive problems and aliments. If you are not convinced try it yourself, I caught up with the lovely Mark to find out about his incredible kombucha journey…
All photography courtesy of Masha Kart
I remember your little stall at the Sunday Market in San Juan, now you have your very own brewery! How did the whole kombucha adventure happen for you?
It was all very organic. I started brewing kombucha in 2008 and people told me they loved it. For many years I experimented with recipes and eventually realized this is what I want to do. In 2013 my girlfriend and I moved to Ibiza from Malibu, California, and the idea was to bring along my delicious drink and introduce it to this amazing island. I began offering kombucha at a few markets and honestly not many people had heard of this refreshing, healthy tonic. Things grew slowly and I eventually began selling to health food shops. Now we also work with distributors and will sell in Mallorca and Barcelona. This adventure would not have been possible without the great people of Ibiza. The hundreds of fine folks I’ve met over the years at markets are a fantastic community, and the people I work with provide friendship, support and motivation. I am very grateful.
What are the benefits of drinking kombucha?
Instant refreshment! A well-crafted kombucha should be zesty and satisfying. In addition, Tea of Life Kombucha® is naturally low calorie and is great for digestion and improving the health of the liver. We use traditional brewing methods without pasteurization or artificial flavors. The result is a naturally sparkling, probiotic beverage with lots of healthy organic acids. These organic compounds create a healthy pH environment for the proliferation of good gut bacteria. They also assist the functioning of your liver and help flush out pollutants, such as lead and mercury and other heavy metals. The result is that kombucha actually helps you party! It produces a balancing effect that energizes the body and focuses your mind. In short, it’s a natural party-enhancer and effective hangover cure.
Why is Ibiza the perfect location for you?
I’ve lived all over the world and this island is magical. I know it¹s a bit of a cliché, but nowhere else have I felt so free to be myself and do what I want while being surrounded by generally thoughtful and happy people. Of course Ibiza is a bit of a socioeconomic bubble that’s relatively immune from the ups and downs of the outside world. But hey, we all live in bubbles. It’s best to choose your own bubble based on what you want out of life. As for me, I feel privileged to be able to offer my unique drink to the people of this wonderful island.
Residents and visitors to Ibiza are lucky enough to be able to purchase your wonder potion. What tips you give to someone wanting to try brewing their own?
Be safe and have fun! Brewing kombucha is a fulfilling hobby that the whole family can enjoy. Flavoring small batches is delicious, healthy and creative. It’s quite simple as long as you stay clean, use the proper teas, and of course throw everything out if you see any molds. Just make sure you educate yourself about the process. Online forums are great. People love to talk about their brews and they share lots of useful information. One of the cool things when you brew kombucha is it’s YOUR pet project so it’ll taste nice and special for you because you gave it love and care. I guess that’s a good way to put it: brewing kombucha is like having a pet. You have to feed it and look after it if you want it to stay healthy. One last thing I’ll mention about this is PLEASE be careful about exploding bottles. This is something easy to avoid but if you don’t educate yourself about yeast and sugar you might end up with a bunch of dangerous bombs around the house. Online forums can help you with this.
On my travels I’m always looking out for kombucha and I recently tried a raspberry and elderflower one at Daylesford farm in the UK. Will you be making any other varieties of flavours any time soon?
We’ve made hundreds of tests over the last year to develop some stellar, absolutely delicious tastes. In late April we will release “Lemongrass Fusion” made with Ibiza-grown, certified organic lemongrass and turmeric. This flavor incorporates a fresh lime zesty-ness and I would say tastes something like summer in a bottle…I personally can’t get enough! Also, we hope to release in May our hibiscus blend. We’re still not settled on the final details but the characteristics will be a bit more powerful than our other flavours. Hibiscus can pack a quite a punch and we’re likely to develop it in the direction of a dry lambrusco. It’s important to us that each variety of Tea of Life Kombucha® stand out in its own flavor profile and offers people uniquely different, delicious tastes.
What are the biggest challenges you have had and are overcoming to be succesful?
Educating people about kombucha was and is a challenge. It¹s becoming extremely popular in the United States but a lot of people in Europe are just now coming around. Also there are plenty of sub-par kombuchas out there, so some people might have tasted something that is loaded with sugar or is over-fermented and tastes bad. My hope is people are open-minded enough and willing to try something new and exciting with Tea of Life Kombucha®. Well crafted kombucha is delightfully refreshing and worlds apart from what you may have experienced, so please suspend your judgment until you try our delicious drinks!
What does the future hold for your products?
Now that our feet are on the ground we’re finalizing our new tasty flavors, so be on the lookout for them in 2017. We’re also working on getting organic and fair-trade certification, as all our ingredients are already organic and fair trade. One recent thing we’re quite proud of is that our brewery became solar-powered. This is a huge relief as refrigerators can drain a lot of energy. Lastly, we would love to branch out and sell to more beach clubs. Our kombucha can be used to make some truly stellar cocktails, plus its health benefits are perfect for people relaxing on the beach after a night out.
What would you dream vision of Ibiza be in 2026, what changes would you like to see/expect to see/plus island qualities that you don¹t want to disappear?
I hope this island remains a place where people can experience freedom away from the constraints of the outside world. I imagine an island that also meets its energy needs through sustainable practices. I think this is really an area in which we should invest. This goes doubly for water. I would love to see an island with state-of-the-art desalinization and water retrieval technologies. Imagine a place away from the affluence of cities, where people a hundred years from now can come to party and relax as they please and not have to worry about pollution or water and electricity shortages. And people on that island will naturally satiate their thirst with our Organic, Fair-trade, Sustainably-Powered, Carbon-Neutral, Tea of Life Kombucha®!!
For all information http://teaoflifedrink.com/