A new addition to the Jack’s crew - meet the adventurous, talented and creative Liz Dal Bon - an American living in Cornwall with a passion for kombucha, sailing, the environment and working in positive impact business.
Liz now works regularly with us at the Fermentary at Argal Home Farm with bottling, packaging, and as time goes on, more of the technical and craft aspects of the fermentation processes. We love her upbeat, positive vibes and passion for authentic kombucha!
Here's Liz with the story about how it all happened...
Hello U.K.! I’m Liz. A San Francisco California girl who found herself in Cornwall around two years ago because of a pandemic and a beautiful boy.
I’ve been asked to write a little blog post about myself and also to highlight some of the differences in Kombucha culture between here and the U.S. Kombucha is a passion of mine and commercial kombucha has gotten huge in the U.S..
I was into it basically from the beginning. I remember being sixteen and my girlfriend at the time cracking open a GT’s (one of the first really successful kombuchas in the states - It's freaking everywhere!) and asking me if I wanted to try it. I think this one had chia seeds in it so it was quite a strange texture/flavor to be introduced to. Slimy little crunchy balls with a sour sweet taste. Seriously weird right? Well, I’m pretty into trying new things and I’m glad I did because from that moment on I fell deeply in love with Kombucha and its bubbly savory sweet and unique taste.
But not only was I in love with the taste I also noticed something else happening. Whenever I would drink kombucha I would feel emotionally a bit better. I had no idea about microbiomes and how a diversity in gut bacteria can be really good for health and general well being. All I knew was that whenever I drank this gorgeous drink I felt better. So I was completely smitten with kombucha and tried every new flavor and every new brand.
When I turned 20, I started working on Tall Ships all over the U.S.. It’s hard work and we would maybe get a day off a week if that. Anytime I had one of those precious days of respite I would immediately search Google for the nearest health food store to see what kind of kombucha they had.
At this time the market was way more diverse. It was no longer just GT’s on the shelves. I tried SO much kombucha. Healthaid and Dr. Brew were some of my new favorites. Each brand had a distinctive taste. Some were light and just a bit tingly on the tongue. Others had a strong taste and fizz impact. I personally liked mine in-between. Not too fizzy with just the right kick of ginger to really get the gut going. But it often depended on how I was feeling or what foodstuff I was pairing it with that day.
Just to give some more examples about how crazy the U.S. is about kombucha: on my travels I found a kombucha bar that had a wonderful atmosphere and all the kombucha I could drink on tap. Anywhere you go you can find interesting flavors like Cocoa and Reishi mushroom, Basil blueberry or Chia seed and Berry, coffee, herbal tea and honey... the list goes on.
A typical USA shop chiller packed with a huge range of kombucha
Hard booch that either has alcohol added or the booch was just left to brew longer (I usually don't like these as much but I recently found a honey version that is to die for!). There's even a girl whose video about trying kombucha went viral! Pretty nuts.
Fast forward to 2020. I came to the U.K. to live with my British partner for 6 months just to see how we would get on and try out living here for a bit. Well, a couple of weeks after I got here the first Covid 19 lockdown happened. I really didn't want to go home. We ended up getting a partner visa for me and that original six months turned into two years!
The homesickness I felt was pretty intense. The longest I had been in a foreign country away from my family and friends was four months. I would try to treat my homesickness the same way I took care of myself while on the Tall Ships... and that meant kombucha!!
Searching Google for the nearest health food store and see what kind of kombucha was in stock... Well, I was incredibly disappointed. Every booch I tried in the U.K. had too much vinegar, was too sweet or artificial tasting. As a passionate California kombucha girl I found this deeply dissatisfying!
When I was finally able to travel home to San Francisco for a month in January 2022 I went straight to the kombucha aisle (the store has a whole wall full of kombucha) of my local health food store in San Francisco and literally cried. Yep! I'll admit it, tears came out of my eyes! I had missed it so much.
Coming back to the U.K. I was determined to get my hands on the right kombucha one way or the other - even making it myself! But luckily on my quest I happened upon Jack's!
So... I was filling up at the Incredible Bulk where I started telling the lovely Jack and Jemma about my kombucha woes. That’s when Jack told me about how one of their friends Billy was making kombucha and was selling at the Food Barn market near Flushing! I felt a flutter of excitement. Maybe this would be the one. So I got my mother-in-law to drive down all the narrow roads of Flushing to try and find this market. After taking a few wrong turns, we finally found the market and I went straight for the Jacks stall. I was greeted by Billy and we had the most wonderful chat about our shared love of kombucha.
Billy at The Food Barn market, Tregew, near Flushing.
Straight away, it was easy to tell that this kombucha was going to be different. It really felt like Billy knew what he was talking about and had a lot of love for the booch. What also impressed me was the effort they put into sustainability and the quality of their ingredients. There wasn't really a good chance to try the kombucha at the market because I had got there so late but I took home one of each of their main flavors. My partner and I had them with lunch that day and we both decided that this is the best kombucha in the U.K.. Especially the ginger flavor. It made me so happy to finally find a booch that tasted right. The perfect combination of bubbles, not too sweet and definitely not too vinegary. The kick that I got from the ginger went straight to my gut. I felt that same wonderful light feeling after drinking kombucha that I get when drinking Booch from home. My gut was loving it. I could taste the love that these people put into every bottle. I feel so relieved that I can finally drink good booch again.
I stayed in touch with the Jack's team and continued buying their booch, until one day I got an unbelievable call - would I like to come and work with the team? Whaaaaat!!
Since first meeting Billy at the market, the team were steadily getting more and more busy. One of the other founders had recruited his son Jowen to help out. But then, the time came for him to go to University in Bristol. So I was invited to come on board.
Here's me accepting the honorary SCOBY jar from Tim and Lotta to mark my first official day of work at Jack's fermentary at Argal Home Farm.
It feels great being part of the team at such an exciting stage in the business! And making kombucha - it' s a dream come true and I'm loving it! So stay tuned for more from me - but for now, here's a high on life image from sailing adventures...
||Written by Liz Dal Bon - an avid sailor, adventure seeker, craftsperson, and explorer of footpaths. Traveling and people are her ultimate loves and she never leaves home without a good book just in case of boredom.|