Kombucha fans that have been in Bangkok for a few years may recognize the name Pure Luck. The American-Thai couple that owned the former fermented drink brewery in Old Town seemingly disappeared off the scene a while back — but have recently returned and opened the Kombucha School on Rama 9 Road.
The proprietors are calling this the first of its kind in the world, and to that end, they’ve even trademarked the name “Kombucha School.” Indeed, a cursory search on the Internet did not reveal any competing kombucha schools.
After closing down the Bangkok outpost of Pure Luck a few years ago, and leaving their former Charoen Krung Soi Nana location to indie flower shop One Day Wallflowers, Chatthip “Tibb” Phungtham and Brett Casper packed up and spent a few years in the States, continuing their business in California and picking up some rather prestigious industry recognition — they were named one of the top five Kombucha brands in the US by Food & Wine magazine.
The pair returned to Bangkok in May of last year and soft-opened the school in March of this year. Since then,according to Chatthip, about 200 people have attended their classes on how to properly ferment kombucha.
Pure Luck still operates stateside but, as the couple watched kombucha gain popularity in Thailand from afar, they decided it was time to relaunch here, Chatthip told Coconuts.
Over the last few years, she said that they’ve worked hard to hone their kombucha skills and felt ready to teach others after, all told, nearly a decade brewing the drink themselves. They trademarked their low-sugar fermentation method, dubbed the “Pure Kombucha Method,” and have been preaching the gospel to the newly acquainted, in addition to the established converts living in Bangkok.
Chatthip told us that the secret to their method is that “no juice, added sugar, or any flavorings are used.” She explained that they just brew the tea with spring water, herbs, and the minimum amount of organic sugar necessary for the fermenting process. They let it sit for at least 21 days. She shared that many kombuchas are fermented for just a week or so.
Apparently, the longer fermentation period maxes out the probiotic benefits and burns off more of the sugar, leaving a healthier drink. She also mentioned that their kombucha is naturally carbonated and needs no refrigeration.
In their “Kombucha 101” class (2.5 hours/THB3,800), students learn about the cycle of the cultures and how to balance drinks they might prepare at home. They also receive a kit to take home, including a SCOBY starter culture and everything they need to start making their own kombucha.
A “Kombucha 202” (2 hours/THB2,000) class builds on those skills and teaches secondary fermentation as well.
For those that simply want to sip, Pure Luck has reintroduced their classic flavors, which their former fans will recognize. They can again get fixes of Mr. Oolong, Miss Darjeeling, Silver Jasmine, Bangkok Detox, Green Dragon, Cinnamon Plum, and Better Than Cola.
These are available for home delivery or at places around the city such as Thong Lor’s The Commons, Silom’s Oleaf Organic, and Sathupradit Road’s The Organique. They can also be delivered for THB1,650 for 15 bottles or THB3,150 for 30 bottles, excluding delivery fee.
Pure Luck also has a new product, a “barrel aged kombucha,” that could be considered more of a craft brew. They even call it the “Brewer’s Reserve” line, aging it for at least 42 days in French oak wine barrels — but you have to get the strong stuff directly from them (THB600 for 600ml).
The new school is only open when they hold classes or for scheduled pickups or appointments. They are still building a tap room on the premises, which will be open more often for events and for fermented food classes, but they don’t currently foresee it being open daily, like a cafe.
So, do they practice what they preach? Chatthip told us: “I definitely believe in the health benefits of my own kombucha. I can’t live without it and drink at least five bottles per day!”
Pure Luck Kombucha School
11 Soi 3, Rama 9 43
Open only during classes, by appointment, and for special events