Kali Forstbauer did not plan on starting a kombucha business — it just sort of happened.
She had started making the drink solely for her family about three years ago, and over time, her supply got bigger and bigger. She started selling it online, then quickly moved to farmers’ markets.
In the spring, she and her husband Timothy Forstbauer opened The Royals Kombucha Brew House retail location where they make, bottle, and sell their kombucha.
The sign outside their door on Main Street reads “Kombucha: a lightly fermented tea with a natural effervescence packed full of gut-building goodness.”
“I believe, wholeheartedly, that it can help with your digestion [and] any kind of skin ailment,” she says. “Your skin is your largest organ in your body, and when you heal your gut, it can help tremendously with all different aspects of your life from your digestion to your skin to your overall health.”
Organic Chinese green tea and organic cane sugar are the two main ingredients in The Royals’ kombucha. Then they add the culture called a “scoby” which is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. A scoby is much like a sourdough starter.
“You have to acquire [the scoby]. I got it from a hippie in Yarrow,” she says, and she’s been using the same one for the past two to three years.
Kombucha is made by brewing the tea, adding the sugar and scoby, then fermenting it at room temperature for anywhere from seven to 30 days. Once the kombucha tea is ready, the last step is to add the unique flavours derived from fruit juice and fruit puree.
On tap, they use seasonal and local ingredients — currently, they have flavours like lavender and peach. Their six original flavours, sold by the bottle, include blueberry-basil, strawberry-lime, lemon/ginger/turmeric, blackberry-lemonade, raspberry-peach, and mango.
Kombucha in the bottle is not carbonated, but on tap it is, adds Forstbauer.
“The fresher the kombucha, the less fizzy it’s going to be. The more time it has had to sit in the bottle, the more time it has had to build that effervescent.”
She admits kombucha does not smell pretty, but “the benefits of the way that it makes me feel [more awake and alert], as well as the taste of it, to me outweigh the unappealing smell.”
At The Royals retail store, you can buy kombucha in the bottle (375 ml) for $4.25, in one-litre or two-litre growlers ($8 for one litre, and $12 for two litres, plus cost of growler for $3 and $6, respectively), or on tap.
Their 375 ml bottles are also available at Save-On-Foods, The Town Butcher, Beyond Nutrition, Hofstede’s, and Produce Gone Wild.
The Royals Kombucha offers samples of every one of their flavours at their retail location.
They can be found at 9282 Main St., 604-866-9861, and on Facebook. Hours: Mondays and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s been very cool — cool that a place like Chilliwack can support a kombucha business because it is something that is not really all that well known quite yet — and scary all at the same time,” says Forstbauer.