How I met the 'Mother'
Aspen was a happy baby-scoby of the western world. I, on the other hand I was travelling to just travelling from Bangalore to Texas for work back in 2017. I didn't have any plans to adopt microbes on my way back but fermentation bug bit me hard enough to give it a try. For my love of food and sunny California I made plans to see Los Angeles, San Francisco and meet the wonderful Anne-Marie aka Zero-Waste Chef in Mountain View. I was overjoyed to be attending her fermentation workshop as her sous-chef! I had initially planned to bring back sourdough starer from the valley but brought back Aspen instead. Thank God for that.
I hopped onto a cab from San Francisco to Anne Marie’s home to get a glimpse of fermentation first hand. The workshop went so well with AM explaining about sourdough baking, kombucha brewing and making kimchi with her bulk-bought gochugaru. My interaction with AM went beyond the workshop, we talked everything zero-waste under the sun. I admired her Indian meals while nibbling some great sourdough, daal, sauerkraut and this crazy delicious elderberry and hibiscus home-brewed Kombucha and sauerkraut. Trust me, it was a thousand times better than all the commercial brands I drank during my entire stay in the US. I instantly fell in love with the homemade booch and asked AM if she would share her culture with me. AM, as the sweet person she is, agreed to give a part of her scoby 'Etheldreda' to me. So packed in a little jam jar Aspen started her journey on that day in the Bart (Bay Area Train) ride back to San Francisco with me.
I had a day to soak in all the San Fransico vibes as I stuffed my face with delicious almond croissants for breakfast with my hosts, witnessed beautiful vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge, demolished many ramen bowls and hung out in beautiful farmer’s markets all before I said bye bye to the city.
The name Aspen is a homage to the place she cames from, AM's warm and cozy home in Mountain View California and also my roots in the Mountains of Uttarakhand, India. Btw, Aspen is also a ski-resort city in Denver, Colorado (The geography nerd that I am).
As I travelled back to Dallas, but my adventure with Kombucha brewing was just about to begin. I made a small batch for a week, shared with colleagues and friends before moving back to India a week later. I realished my last sip of homemade Kombucha before I took off with my scoby, neatly stored in a glass jar, waiting to let open and grow.
After few weeks of neglect back in India I finally got a chance to look at Aspen, dark in colour, shrunken to almost a quarter of its original size. I quickly brewed an ultra micro batch of sweet tea to kickstart the fermentation. I chanted a little prayer and waited for Aspen to respond to her food. Aspen responded in a couple of days, she began to form a new layer of scoby which indicated that she is alive and feeding on the tea nutrients. Within a week she came back to all her glory and beauty. Trust me, that was the best feeling EVER!
She is a healthy and gorgeous scoby that quickly became the centre of our small universe called Mountain Bee Kombucha. Together we make authentic, long-fermented kombucha for you to enjoy. If you haven't already tried Aspen's magic, do try it.
Meeting Aspen and Anne Marie is a story of wanderings, passion, courage, adrenalin and human connection. All of these elements made it an experience worth remembering and the reason our kombucha brewery's existence.