Black Radish has been bottling its speciality kombucha for just under a year and can already list an impressive clientele. Noma’s René Redzepi, Momofuku’s David Chang and Rockpool’s Neil Perry have all paired dishes at their restaurants with the Marrickville-based producer’s fermented drinks.
Kombucha, or fermented tea, is an ancient, natural energising and detoxifying drink. While it has been around in Eastern Europe, Russia, China and Japan for centuries, the sparkling drink has recently made waves in health circles in Sydney. From Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing to The Fermentalists and now Black Radish, it’s clear that it’s not a passing fad.
After a 25-year cooking career, Brendon Vallejo decided to explore the world of liquid fermentation. He fell in love with kombucha after first brewing his own as head chef at Rozelle’s Yoga Studio and Cafe Egg of the Universe.
While kombucha is usually mass-produced, Black Radish brews smaller batches and constantly experiment with its craft, sourcing new teas and altering its brewing methods to ensure the highest quality.
The current range includes the Tasmanian Gala Apple; Sweet Strawberry Gum; Pineapple and Sage (poured at Rockpool); and Orange-Pekoe, paired at Jonah’s with a roasted duck breast and medjool date puree.
Vallejo crafts these flavours over a two-week period, beginning with fermenting white tea in an open-topped oak barrel. Like sourdough bread kombucha is fermented naturally with starter bacteria. This starter is left in the barrels, whose aged wood interiors coax a rich ferment from the tea over a week-long period. The kombucha is then infused with the flavours and bottled, continuing to culture in the closed-environment for another week. The time period varies depending on the season and the tea.