About Jack's Kombucha - our story, team & ethos
The UK was in lockdown when, after a lot of planning and discussion, we decided to push the button on starting a positive impact company and finesse the process of making the finest, best tasting kombucha we possibly could from the highest quality ingredients we could source.
Passion met frustration - the limitations of the time - but we kept going and now here we are with a product that we're really proud of.
So welcome to our world of sustainability, creativity, craft brewing and flavour - of permacultured, organic and fairly traded ingredients shipped across the Atlantic by sail to lower carbon emissions - of fascination with refining our production process, bringing reality to imagined tastes and obsession about fizz (ooh, those bubbles!) - of meeting wonderful, helpful, hearty people along the way and sharing the feel good culture of kombucha, the Jack's way.
HOW IT BEGAN
Riding a motorcycle along the Pacific coast of California in the mid 2000’s while working as a motorcycle tour guide, co-founder of Jack’s Kombucha, Tim stopped at a grocery store to pick up his usual road trip food. In the chiller was a bottle of GT’s. Never a fan of soda, and a beer not being the best drink while riding, he grabbed the kombucha to give it a try. Fast forward several years and every time he arrived in the US, his first point of call was Whole Foods to stock up on kombucha for the ride. “I love finding new brands and flavours and seeing people putting love into what they produce, kombucha got me right away!” says Tim, “From my first bottle I knew kombucha was something special. For me, it wasn’t about the reported health benefits, it was the feeling it gave me while drinking it. Refreshing and moorish with none of the sugar crash or after taste that comes with so many soft drinks. I loved it and it’s been my drink of choice ever since.”
From there, it was a small step to brewing his own and then to sharing with friends and finally to start selling in small quantities. Seeing kombucha's growth in America, and not being able to buy it widely in the UK, brought about Jack’s as a business. As Tim puts it, “I wanted to transition away from travel and to start a local business with roots in the community.”
Teaming up with friend and business associate Greg, and then finding a shared passion for kombucha and sustainable and positive impact business practices with Lotta and Billy, the Jack’s Kombucha core team was formed. From the start, we knew we wanted to make it a social business to share the experience of creating something with others. All sharing a love of good food and Cornwall, along with spending a lot of our time outside, we just knitted together. Our collective skills covered all core aspects of the business from day one and we look forward to building on this core as we grow and share our brews, our ethos and our story with a wider audience.
THE JACK'S CREW
Really, we're a bunch of vagabonds who independently gravitated to Cornwall one way or another. Greg's from here originally - Tim and Greg are friends from waaaaay back (and suspect they may have played together as kids on Portreath beach). Read a Blog about how that came about. Billy, Lotta and Tim met through their kids all attending the same school. And so the mutual interest in starting a kombucha company brought it all together.
For the past 20 years, Billy has been putting a slice of his love and energy into the food and drink industry. From running kitchens to working with charities, he’s on a mission to spread the love of healthy eating and positive wellbeing to his local community. Well, what better way to do that than brewing booch. When he’s not whispering sweet nothings to the fermenters, he loves spending time with his family in his hometown Falmouth, foraging around the local countryside and getting his dose of Cornish vitamin sea.
Greg grew up on the Lizard due to several generations of his family migrating to Cornwall in the 1950's. After a spell 'up the line' pursuing a career in advertising and marketing, Greg returned to west Cornwall to start a family and offer his children a similar upbringing to his own. He now lives in Penzance with his partner and grown up kids. You can find him walking cliff paths, catching the occasional wave, performing live music, or windsurfing at a few favourite local spots.
Born and bred in Sweden where pickled foods are a traditional part of everyday diets, Lotta is to this day passionate about anything brewed or fermented. She first tried kombucha after Tim introduced his home brewed booch to her on a warm summer’s day. The refreshing fizz and tang of a drink that isn’t super sweet has had her hooked ever since. Lotta moved to the UK about 20 years ago. She has since worked in jobs ranging from product management in travel to digital marketing in fashion (you will mainly find Lotta wearing a hoodie and jeans though). Lotta moved from London to Cornwall with her husband and daughter eight years ago, and can be found going for dips in the sea, getting muddy in the woods or foraging in the Cornish hedgerows.
After 25 years in the travel industry riding motorcycles across the world, Tim decided to put down roots in Cornwall. Family holidays spent on the north coast gave him a love of the area and after some years spent in the Med on a boat, it was the obvious choice of location once he decided to return to the UK. With a love of the ocean and foraging (sloe gin is a seasonal must along with elderberry kombucha), Tim spends his free time on the beach or in the kitchen trying new flavour combinations and ferments.
Read blogs written by the Jack's crew here >
We came to kombucha from looking for an alternative to alcohol and sugary soft drinks. In kombucha we found the perfect replacement for both. Trying brands from all over the UK and the world, we quickly found the particular style of kombucha we loved. Some of our favourites were those that used no flavourings - instead, focusing on the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) blends of tea. We decided that as well as our original kombucha, which we use as the base, to also add flavours that we can source locally, as with our seasonal micro batches or organically and sustainably in the case of classics like ginger (we’re working with local growers to be able to use Cornish grown ginger). Incorporating local and foraged ingredients into our brews is one of the joys Jack’s gives us. We are all passionate about where we live and kombucha gives us the chance to share the things we love most about where we’re from.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to our Fermentary just outside Falmouth, then come to our tap room and taste some of our small seasonal batches as they come through with each growing season. If you don’t live close, don’t worry - the best of these flavours will join our core flavour range, available online.
Alternative to alcohol and sugary soft drinks
While out with friends either in town or at the beach sometimes we can’t have, or just don’t want, alcohol. For us, kombucha gives us a similar taste satisfaction to IPA or wine and the 'up' of a more sugary soft drink - but without the crash afterwards.
Taste has always been our focus with brewing kombucha. From the start, we heard a lot about its reported health benefits and about its low calorie count when compared to regular soft drinks. We also liked the lift it gave us - the kombucha buzz that’s hard to define, but in the end taste is what we look for most in our brews. Find out more about how we craft flavour, the heart and soul of our drinks >
Balancing the subtle base tea flavours with the tart acidity and sweetness is what gives every kombucha its own taste. The mix of different good bacteria and acids in each kombucha starter means that there is a never ending variety of flavour and taste profiles. Balancing this is what makes a great kombucha and that’s where the endless fascination and craft lies.
For our smaller micro batches, we tend to use a secondary fermentation process to produce carbonation and we love the light and natural fizz that this process gives. On our larger (still pretty small) batches, and with certain flavours, we really like the punch that carbonating with a carb stone can give a brew. Balanced with the other elements of good production, we feel carbonation is an often overlooked aspect which gives each kombucha its individuality and is an important element when producing a live product. From delicately bubbly home brews to hard hitting commercial fizz monsters, kombucha is a never ending kaleidoscope of taste and drinking experience.
THE (BREW) HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
As with so many kombucha brands, Jack’s started off in a home kitchen, slowly taking over all available space. Although Tim’s wife loves kombucha, she really didn’t need 20-30 glass jars pushed into every corner! After visiting several breweries in Europe and the US, it was clear that space was the key with a kombucha brewery. As growth can be explosive, not having the space can slow your ability to keep up with demand.
With this in mind, we decided we needed a space that right away could cope with our projected growth for at least a couple of years. Commercial kitchen space was in short supply in south Cornwall and units that were available didn’t suit our needs. We then met the guys at Argal Home Farm. A dynamic community of creative people based on a farm on the outskirts of Falmouth. It was a perfect fit - except it didn’t have any kitchen space.
With the perfect location we found a solution to make it work - recycled shipping containers! Quick to erect and easy to adapt, we had two units custom built to our requirements. The kitchen and fermentation room in one container and chiller room, tap room and office in the other. As the New Year arrived in 2021 we were set to go with our first full scale brews on the go.
Traditionally, kombucha was fermented in glazed pots and later in glass - we still brew our micro batch seasonal brews and test brews this way. To expand production many kombucha brands start fermenting in the same equipment used with beer and wine. Although this method can work well and produces some great kombuchas, it also creates a brewing environment that isn’t always optimal. The taller narrow fermenter shape used for beer and wine encourages yeast developing over aerobic bacteria, increasing yeast and therefore alcohol, which then needs to be controlled. We spent a long time looking into alternatives and found a vessel shape which creates a much more favourable environment for balancing the needs of both the yeast and bacteria. Not only does it create a more balanced brew, it also gives a more complete fermentation and requires less filtration leaving us with a more authentic kombucha profile with more finesse in flavour.
OUR ETHOS - SUSTAINABLE, POSITIVE IMPACT BUSINESS & HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS
Central to everything we do is to make a positive impact for the wellbeing of our customers and our local community without compromise on the impact on the environment. We love our product as much as we love nature and, like kombucha, we believe in a symbiotic relationship with our planet. As a start up business still in our early days, here’s what we’re already doing from the outset…
We’re very fortunate to be located alongside some inspirational pioneers at Argal Home Farm, one of which is New Dawn Traders! With the beautiful vessels, Da Galant and Tres Hombres, they sail the Atlantic trade winds bringing exotic ingredients that we’re not able to grow in the UK back to our shores. With no use of fossil fuels, this is a future collaboration we're very excited about exploring as soon as we can.
Though New Dawn Traders, we discovered the amazing Gorreana - the oldest, and currently the only tea plantation in Europe, located on São Miguel, nicknamed 'Ilha Verde' (meaning 'green island') - the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.
Gorreana have been producing the highest quality tea since 1883. Due to its cooler climate, compared to traditional locations for tea plantations, the growers don’t face the issues of tea flies and mosquitoes. This means from the very start they have only ever used permaculture practices, so no pesticides or other nasty chemicals. Even the soil is enriched with vegetable compost! So, not only is their tea grown in a non-destructive way to its local environment - it makes the most amazing kombucha!
Obviously, it is not just tea that goes into the production of kombucha. Our sugar cane is organic and fairly traded.
Water is the next ingredient to look at. Being based in Cornwall we’re blessed with fantastic water quality from our own private supply. This, coupled with an in-house carbon water filtering system, means we’ve got the base ingredient sorted. So, no need for plastic packaged spring water!
When it comes to by-products, our aim is to minimise waste. Our pellicles are sliced, marinated and dehydrated to make the most delicious 'SCOBY snacks' and we’re working on a use for the spent tea leaves. In the meantime, they’re a great addition to our compost heap.
Tim and Billy tasting a new brew
Well, that covers our production! But as we said, our aim is to make positive change to our customers' wellbeing and our local community - as well as making great kombucha.
Moving forward, our plan is to offer work placements and employment to those in the community that will really benefit from the opportunity. Also, when things are a bit more back to normal, we’ll also be running workshops sharing the importance of gut health - and of course how to brew kombucha!
As our business develops, our focus on sustainability will expand. But we are very happy to nail our colours to the mast with these solid foundations in our start up phase.