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The Real Drinks Co Fermented Teas with David Begg

This show was published 02 September 2023


David Begg began experimenting with fermenting teas at home in 2015 having been introduced to kombucha by a friend. Instead of producing kombucha he ended up using a much more controlled fermentation vs the traditional 'wild' fermentation associated with kombucha. The end result: sparkling fermented teas.

His naturally fermented sparkling teas were gaining traction being positioned as a non-alcoholic alternative to champagne (still being made at home) and were being listed by high end and Michelin starred restaurants. He scaled up by having a fermentery built in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. His company, The Real Drinks Co, was offered the chance to build a bigger fermentery at the Waddesdon Estate, owned by the Rothschild family. David attracted investors to fund the move. Today, they have listings in Ocado, Sainsbury, Waitrose and are looking at expanding into export markets.

The teas are made through a natural process involving bacterial fermentation which gives a flavour profile is similar to wine. To start they make the tea (loose leaf) in a large pot/vessel. Sugar is added to the 10000 litre tank along with yeast and bacteria to ferment over 3-6 weeks. The very gradual fermentation helps produce the complex flavours. The tea is then filtered and bottled into 750ml bottles.

What makes them different to Kombucha is that a scoby is absent. Scoby stand for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast and creates a 'wild' fermentation which means the flavours and style are variable and inconsistent. Instead they have created a very controlled process by identifying and isolating yeast and bacteria in order to create specific flavours in the fermented tea. They contain 20-30g of sugar per litre, very low compared to soft drinks but comparable to the Sec level of champagne/sparkling wines. The PH is similar to a white wine. There are also some tannins present which give astringency to balance the sugar and acidity and top notes (flavours).

There are three 3 flavours: Royal Flush (first flush single estate Darjeeling), Dry Dragon and Peony Blush (rose, summer fruits) available in bottles and cans.


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The music used for the UK Wine Show is Griffes de Jingle 1 by Marcel de la Jartèle and Silence by Etoile Noire.

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