Recently I caught up with Tai from local kombucha brewery Old Tree, to find out all about their business, how they've adapted to lockdown and what an extensive and eclectic taste in music they share!
Please tell us about your business and what you offer?
We are Brighton's only kombucha brewery, formed six years ago to brew elderflower sparkling wine as a way to invest in forest gardens. Since then, we've expanded to produce a range of live, probiotic kombuchas, shrub cordials, and seasonal wines, all while working to benefit our environment, restoring and building local ecosystems.
How long have you been based in Brighton?
Old Tree has been here for the last six years in different forms: as Silo's in-house botanical brewery, as a forest garden cafe in Field on Lewes Road, and now as a micro-brewery in central Brighton, just across from St Peter's Church.
What challenges has your business faced since we went into lockdown?
Well, half our clients have temporarily shut down, and all our summer events have been cancelled, so that's certainly been challenging, especially as summer is normally a time when we are able to save up a little for the slower months. We can't furlough ourselves, as we work with live cultures, and they don't care about coronavirus. Plus, we want to continue supplying our remaining clients and customers, and we want to continue paying our employees a full, living wage, doing something they love (we all still have bills to pay). So, we're pushing through this uncertain time as best we can, for as long as we can.
Would you say that the Support Local Facebook group and Brighton Quarantine website have been a help to your business?
It's been great to have platforms dedicated to local producers and shops, especially now, when so many people are looking to support small, local businesses. There's nothing else like Brighton Quarantine and the wonderful Support Local community, and we hope they continue on well after we're out of this situation. They're amazing!
What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling right now?
If you're still up and running, look for every possible opportunity and take advantage of them all. If you don't find what you need, make your own opportunities, but also be realistic and constantly reassess where you stand. If you've temporarily shut, keep an eye on the whole situation, but also try to relax a little bit in this downtime. The world is stressful enough right now. If you get a chance to decompress, even for a moment, take it!
What happy song makes you dance in your kitchen?!
Only one!? We're all getting in on this, so: Milan - Psycho Killer by Talking Heads; Harry - Get Up on Your Feet (Walter Gibbons 12" Mix) by TC James & the Fist-O-Funk; Tai - right now, anything by Girl Talk or STRFKR.
Anything further you'd like to tell us?
With lots of people being more inactive due to staying home so much, it's more important than ever to keep up your gut health, and fermented foods and drinks are a great way to get lots of beneficial bacteria and nutrients.
Please come find us on https://oldtree.house to see what we offer. We're still releasing new, seasonal drinks despite everything, and we'd love for you to try them. Next up is a nettle and rhubarb cordial, and in a couple of months we'll have more elderflower sparkling wine. We've also got a box of amazing, locally produced fermented foods and drinks coming very soon. Lots of new and exciting things to try while we're all hunkering down, and once we're all allowed out again, come visit us here at the brewery!
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