'Our online sales have seen a huge spike': The healthy soft drink alternative to Irn-Bru

A healthy soft drinks company based in Glasgow has been branching out during lockdown and is now offering an alternative to challenge the Scottish love for Irn-Bru.

Alan and Kelsey from You + I
Alan and Kelsey from You + I

Those in the know call it booch.

However, even though its nickname rhymes with hooch, kombucha is completely alcohol – and moonshine – free.

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It’s a popular alternative to the hard stuff, partially because of the yeasty beer-like flavour of the tea-based probiotic drink, which originated in China a couple of thousand years ago. You could describe it as an acquired taste.

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“Some would say so,” says Glasgow-based Kelsey Moor of the newly re-branded You + I drinks, formerly Clever Kombucha.

“It depends on the kombucha to be honest – we believe everyone would enjoy ours. It’s definitely unlike most other soft drinks on the market."

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At least the new range from this 30-something husband-and-wife team, who just became parents to twins, is more palatable than other brands.

A bit like sourdough bread, which has a starter, booch is made using a SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

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You and I kombucha

You + I’s version is also fermented with French oak, for depth of flavour. Featuring botanical illustrations by Cornish illustrator, Ryn Frank, on the labels, they have created varieties that are infused with lemon and lavender, lime and smoked sea salt – our favourite, with Assam tea – or ginger.

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“Kelsey has always loved to cook so mixing and matching ingredients comes naturally to her,” says Alan Moor, the other half of You + I.

According to Ms Moor, booch is much more established in her native Canada.

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“Its popularity in North America is similar to the craft beer industry – it’s sold pretty much everywhere,” says Ms Moor, who grew up in Victoria, Vancouver Island.

“We used to drink it all the time when we were back visiting family, then struggled to find comparable versions in the UK. When we started over three years ago, we were one of only a handful of kombucha breweries and very few people had heard of it.”

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However, for those who aren’t keen, the couple have also branched out into barley waters and botanical teas.

The barley water range comes in Lemon, Coconut Caraway and Juniper Buchu, and is produced by steeping barley with fruits and herbs at the company’s taproom in Glasgow’s Southside.

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“Barley water isn’t a new drink and has been on the shelves for a very long time,” Ms Moor says.

"Our contemporary, natural and healthy twist on the drink will hopefully gain attention.”

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According to them, it is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and it certainly tastes more sophisticated than Robinson’s.

Equally upmarket is the botanical tea range, which includes Rooibos Rose, Sencha Green and White Peony Chamomile flavours.

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The market has come a long way since Lilt and Tango, and the Moors hope to capitalise on those who want to make healthier lockdown choices.

“The current situation has made people more aware of healthier choices, especially the longer it drags on,” says Ms Moor.

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“There also appears to be more focus on supporting local businesses as people are understanding their importance more than ever. Our online sales have seen a huge spike and we’ve been lucky to remain viable during a time that has been so difficult."

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