Model Bella Carlstrom’s Kombucha is going to replace the aerated drinks in your fridge forever
When I first started making Kombucha, all my friends thought, ‘Oh, Bella is at it again, making some healthy concoction that will taste horrible’,” says Bella Carlstrom. “But then, they had a sip, and they were hooked. And they all wanted a bottle!”
Bella Carlstrom. Pic/Satej Shinde
The 24-year-old model may have hit a home-run with her Kombucha label which she is calling Bella’s Booch. When we tasted a chilled glass of lemongrass ginger flavour, we were surprised at how good it was. It was refreshing, and had a natural taste, instead of the concentrated, saccharine beverages we are addicted to. It was just the right amount of sweet, and the lemongrass ginger was not too overpowering. “It’s a coolant of course, but it’s also a pro-biotic and keeps your gut in shape. If that’s taken care of, your immunity is going to be off the charts,” says the New Zealander.
Carlstrom, who moved to India from Sydney in 2012 to pursue greener pastures in modelling, says that it’s been a childhood habit to cook with mom, Toni, in the kitchen. And it was during a visit home in the last few years that she learnt how to make the Kombucha. “My mom is the eternal yogi, always making something new and healthy. So she started making the booch, and taught it to all of us. Actually, the weather in India is perfect for it.”
The Kombucha’s roots go back to ancient China, Japan and Korea. It’s a labourous process to make a batch and takes a certain knack to prepare the perfect brew. Carlstrom first brews a batch of black tea and lets it rest overnight. She then adds the most important ingredient. “That would be the ‘mushroom’ called SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast,” explains Carlstrom. Basically, it’s a group of genetically identical or nearly identical organisms living together, usually of the bacterial species. “You can make your own SCOBY by adding vinegar to the sugared tea, and slowly, but surely, it will take shape,” she says. It usually looks like the umbrella top of a mushroom. Once the SCOBY is immersed in the tea, it takes 10 days to ferment, at the end of which the SCOBY has sucked in the colour and the sugar. “I then add the flavours, like beetroot, apple, strawberry, spiced apple and blend it. Once it’s drained, it’s ready!”
Right now, Carlstrom is stocking the glass bottle of the booch at Bandra’s iBar for R400. If you want a refill, come back with the same bottle and pay only R300. But it’s getting hectic. “I have to now double my production. As people taste it, they want more,” she laughs.
We’re in line too.