What started as a hobby in her quest for wellness has transformed into a flourishing kombucha business for Bundaberg woman Helen Tricarico.
The local entrepreneur created HOTI Kombucha in 2016, providing a delicious beverage for those looking for a healthy drink alternative.
Helen said HOTI was an acronym for ‘Healthy On the Inside' with the local hand-crafted beverage manufacturer producing kombucha using a range of teas and botanical herbs.
“Fuelled by passion and a desire to help others I noticed a gap in the healthy beverage market in the Bundaberg region so I took the chance and launched my business,” she said.
“Since then HOTI Kombucha has fast become the kombucha of choice for locals.”
First kombucha business in region
Helen said HOTI was the first commercially produced kombucha in the Bundaberg Region and was a recent nominee in the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce 2019 Business Excellence Awards.
It was also recently listed in the top 50 businesses in the Inside Small Business Magazine.
She said her brand of kombucha used a range of carefully selected organic teas, local fruit and botanical herbs to create delicious flavours.
“The flavour range includes Hibiscus Ginger, Ginger Glow, Lime Elderflower, Mango Passionfruit, Limoncello, Dragon Fruit, Raspberry and Rosewater, Blood Orange and Passionfruit,” Helen said.
“At HOTI we don’t use concentrates, artificial flavourings or sweeteners and wherever possible we use local fruits and herbs to give our kombucha the beautiful tastes and colours it is known for.
“HOTI Kombucha also uses a recycle bottle program to promote sustainability. Consumers pay a deposit on the bottles and return them for a discounted price when they swap empty for full or refill their bottles at one of our refill stations.”
Helen said her passion for creating kombucha had always been spurred by the mystery of the drink.
“Kombucha is an alchemy of tea, sugar, water and bacteria, and combined with the process of fermentation it works to balance our gut bacteria,” she said.
“I love how kombucha is living, raw, gluten free and vegan and such an amazing way to introduce fermented foods to your body.
“It is simply wellness in a bottle.”
How is kombucha made?
Helen said kombucha’s fermentation process begins with with choosing the highest quality organic tea and sugar.
“The tea is gently extracted by steeping in inverted organic raw sugar dissolved in hot water,” she said.
“Once completed, it is allowed to cool, and a culture known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) along with a starter tea is added and the first fermentation process commences.
“During this process, the sugar is slowly converted by the yeast and bacteria into carbon dioxide and trace amounts of alcohol leaving a lightly carbonated, low sugar elixir.”
Helen said once the first fermentation process was completed the kombucha was then flavoured and bottled or kegged and the second fermentation commenced to continue the carbonation process.
The entire process takes approximately two weeks.
Helen said as kombucha was a living beverage derived by fermenting tea and sugar and had a multitude of health benefits.
“Kombucha contains acetic, glucuronic and lactic acids, B vitamins, beneficial yeast and probiotics,” she said.
“Kombucha is not a cure for disease or illness, instead, it is an effective detoxifier that can assist in bringing the immune system back into balance to allow the body to heal itself.”
Where to try
- NOTE: Wikipedia says many people drink kombucha for its purported health benefits but these are unproved. It's also possible there are adverse health effects.
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