2003-7 – the Boathouse phase
19th November 2018 marks the final payment of our 10 year business loan, making GO! Kombucha debt free, self-owned and determined. We mark this momentous day with a look back to where it began, and the various name and branding changes our real and true Kombucha range underwent along the way…
It all started on a Boathouse moored by the Thames in Teddington, Middlesex. The branding for our first ever mass bottling run in 2003 – contracted out in the earliest days for brewing to kids’ soft drinks manufacturer Rocks Organic – conveyed our quirky homemade heritage; Boathouse Gourmet Kombucha.
We set a precedent using only green tea and adding flavourings, pioneering ginger ‘booch’ along with fruity blackcurrant and peach and elderflower (we seriously underestimated the public palate would embrace the naked booch taste!) But there was a snag: probiotics were an unknown quantity in 2003.
The science into gut health and the microbiome was still some years away, so we idled on health food store shelves around the country unnoticed and unloved…a costly first attempt that saddled our little business with upfront debt. We withdrew from retail and sold exclusively online for the next few years…
2007-10 – the Olde England phase
It was Hollywood actress/wild child Lindsay Lohan who propelled us forward. In January 2007 Lindsay was arrested when the electronic alcohol detector bracelet linked to the local LAPD – which she was obliged to wear at all times as a condition of her then bail – went off, and Lindsay was promptly arrested.
Protesting her innocence, it was discovered that Lindsay was not back on the bottle after all but hooked on an emerging new west coast A-lister celebrity health craze, Kombucha tea, which although containing trace levels of alcohol was still enough to be detected by her bracelet, setting it off.
Most of the weekly women’s gossip magazines in the UK covered the story that month – several on their front covers showing Lindsay clutching a bottle of @gtskombucha – prompting thousands to seek out this ‘miracle elixir’. Overnight our online sales went into overdrive, heralding our first major pay day.
Realising there was gold in them thar scobys after all and with some cash in our coffers, in April 2007 we found a vineyard in the heart of rural Sussex which had the capacity to not only enable us to brew large quantities of authentic Kombucha, but was equipped to bottle and distribute the end product for us too.
The flavours were trimmed to blackcurrant, peach and – sensing the demand for unflavoured booch – Original Sencha and rebranded with a quaint ‘olde England’ design by an art college friend. Gaia’s Organic Kombucha was picked up by distributors again in 2008, only this time we were on our way…
2010-13 – the stylish makeover phase
By 2010 business was starting to thrive, with interest from Scandinavian markets including Norway, Finland and Sweden. Three out of every four bottles sold were Original Sencha, so we dropped the fruit and became a 100% pure and authentic kombucha tea.
Cue a third, stylish brand makeover and a shortening of the name using Gaia’s Organic’s initials. In October 2010 the slicker, punchier GO! Kombucha was born, with a new label by a friend who designed layouts for Condé Naste and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Red Pu-erh was introduced in May 2011, and by late 2012 GO! Kombucha was a health store bestseller throughout the UK.
2013- Quirky Retro forever!
In April 2013 we shook up our branding with our current ‘quirky retro’ look care of top London design studio Collectiva and launched two new teas in 250ml size bottles, China White and Yunnan Gold, to enter into the grab and go market.
With the successful 2017 launch of Darjeeling Black and the possibility of a sixth 250ml tea next year, the GO! Kombucha range continues to innovate and evolve to this day.
Only our small batch handcrafted process that honours the original Ancient Chinese brewing method remains unchanged after 15 long years – just as real and true Kombucha tea should be!