Why the top UK restaurants have started serving kombucha

If you’ve made the assumption that kombucha is a hipster homebrew fad that has East London in its peculiar grip, you might want to hit refresh. Restaurants as prominent as The Fat Duck, Nathan Outlaw, Sat Bains, L’Enclume, The Clove Club and La Gavroche are now offering kombucha as a genuine alternative to alcohol – a timely choice given the change in attitudes towards more healthy food and drink consumption.

At the forefront of this you’ll find Real Kombucha, a brewery in the Chilterns that works with over 50 Michelin-starred restaurants and some of the UK’s best loved pub chains. Founded by David Begg, a foodie who all but gave up alcohol when he realised just how much it was slowing him down, they brew three unflavoured kombuchas, each of them drawing their exquisite notes from different high-end, loose-leaf teas.

“Imagine the situation,” explains Begg. “You are out for a very special dinner with your partner or a group of friends. The food menu looks exquisite and you have selected the truffled artichoke salad, followed by a salt cod with local seasonal greens. You want to lift it with a special drink, but you are not in the mood for alcohol. You check out the menu and your options are… Coca Cola and orange juice.”

“Most top restaurateurs recognise this dichotomy. There are very few foods that are well complemented by sweet drinks. And this is where kombucha comes in. When brewed well, unflavoured, unsweetened kombucha has a lot more in common with a fine wine. It has a rich fermented flavour, with all the floral complexities you might find in a sparkling chardonnay or a light Prosecco. Brews made from different teas have as much variety and character as the difference between a Pinot Noir, Merlot or Gamay grape.”

Like wine, kombuchas are easy to pair with fine foods. Real Kombucha’s green tea-based Dry Dragon is great with salads, fresh fruits or light asian dishes. Their black tea Smoke House is robust and works well with steaks and spicy foods. And Royal Flush, brewed from a floral first flush Darjeeling, is a great compliment to white meats and cream sauces – a superb aperitif drink.

So, if you’re a chef or a restaurateur looking for a way to improve your non-alcoholic offering, it might be worth getting in touch with the Real Kombucha team. They’d be delighted to take you through their process and to help train your team. Who knows… you may end up becoming an evangelist, too.