def: FERMENTATION - the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.

VIVE Cooking School Blog Wild Kombucha


Howdy foodies

After the excesses of the recent Easter long weekend, it seemed poignant this week to balance the scales and swing the pendulum in a healthier direction.

Fermentation has been around for centuries and I chatted recently with the dynamic duo behind Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing in Sydney's Leichhardt. This clever couple have pooled their professional and personal strengths and passions to create a unique and successful business, brewing traditional Kombucha in a suitably modern way.

I didn't know a lot about Kombucha until this recent rendezvous, but I'm officially converted and encourage you to read on to learn more about this ancient and thriving practice.

We also profile our VIVE Cooking School Private Class this week - the perfect place to bring together friends, family, colleagues, anyone really - to collaborate and kick some group kitchen goals!

So settle in and enjoy the read. As always, if you have any questions or queries then please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

Until next week, stay healthy and keep cooking!

The VIVE team.



Referred to as ‘the tea of immortality’ for its health benefits, Kombucha is a naturally energising and detoxifying living drink, produced through the aerobic fermentation of green tea, black tea and organic raw cane sugar. A symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast converts the sugars into a range of organic acids, resulting in a mildly carbonated and delicious tasting brew that has been consumed for centuries in Eastern Europe, Russia, China and Japan.
VIVE Cooking School Blog Wild Kombucha

It's mind-boggling what some people can achieve in just two years. Today's case in point - Wild Kombucha - is the brainchild of savvy husband and wife team Matt and Lara Ball. This collaborative, creative, sustainable brewing venture has recently celebrated one year in their Kombucha Bar and Collaboratory, a unique bar and community locale attached to their production space. And what an adventure it has been!

Matt and Lara outside the Kombucha Bar & Art-Food-Medicine Collaboratory in Leichhardt, Sydney

Matt and Lara outside the Kombucha Bar & Art-Food-Medicine Collaboratory in Leichhardt, Sydney

Keen advocates for the benefits of clean living and natural healing, Matt and Lara had long pondered the idea of marrying their professional backgrounds with their longstanding interest in natural health. Doctor Matt is a practising Ophthalmologist while artist Lara has a background in installation art and design. Together they form quite the formidable team!

With some knowledge of Kombucha's benefits, it wasn't until a yoga and windsurfing trip to Hawaii's North Shore that Matt and Lara were inspired to regularly drink this ancient fermented beverage. The clean-living North Shore surf and yoga crowd were huge advocates - and so the seed was sown.

Eager to bring Kombucha to life in Sydney, Matt and Lara returned home and began the process of research and brewing, brewing and research! With the support and encouragement of family and friends, they soon realised the potential for this wonder elixir and in 2013, Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing was born.

Incredibly, once we started discussing the idea of brewing Kombucha, I found out that my grandmother used to brew it many years before. Another reason to get involved, I thought!
— Lara Ball, co-founder, Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing

VIVE Cooking School Blog Wild Kombucha

Producing a traditional SCOBY fermented Kombucha is paramount to the Ballsy Brewing flavour and ethos, with the biggest challenge being achieving a consistent final pH, residual sugar and legal alcohol content. While a small level of alcohol is normal during fermentation, the true level is difficult to accurately measure and can easily increase if too much residual sugar remains in the living brew. Taking this to a new level, Matt and Lara have installed an in-house testing lab at their Leichhardt premises, using gas chromatography to measure the alcohol levels as accurately as possible within each batch.

Ballsy Brewing was the first company in Australia to open a Kombucha Bar, pioneering the idea of serving their brew fresh and chilled, off pub-style taps. With six taps in their cellar door-type space in Leichhardt, Ballsy Brewing have created a truly unique, social, non-alcoholic drinking experience where customers are able to purchase their brew in take-away, refillable bottles to encourage recycling and environmental nurturing. Win win!

Available in a multitude of deliciously unique flavours, Wild Kombucha features everything from cult classics to short-term specials. Inspired by native Australian bush foods, Matt and Lara regularly explore new and interesting flavour combinations through intuitive experimentation. From classic finger lime and ginger to the more exotic cacao, vanilla and wattleseed and a maze of flavours in between, there's a health-inducing brew on tap for all tastes!

Specialised brews for Quay Restaurant.

Specialised brews for Quay Restaurant.

From humble beginnings at Bondi Farmers Market to a huge expression of locations around Sydney and surrounds, the Wild Kombucha message is spreading fast. And it doesn't look like slowing down. Ballsy Brewing has collaborated with some of Sydney's top nosh spots, concocting special brews for Peter Gilmore's Quay Restaurant to be paired with the non-alcoholic tasting menu. Cheers to that!

At VIVE, we look forward to a collaborative working relationship with the Wild Kombucha crew. In the meantime, drop in and sample their wares for yourself at 495 Parramatta Rd Leichhardt. Or visit their site for stockist locations:


More than a brewery, we’re a community collaboration of like-minded souls. We’ve created an initiative in Leichhardt called Kombucha Bar & Art-Food-Medicine Collaboratory - attached to our Kombucha Bar, the space offers support to local makers while exploring the concepts of natural health, conscious living and community awareness. This is the good stuff that fuels our passion.
— Lara Ball, co-founder, Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing



Do you fancy taking the reins of a state-of-the-art cooking school and entertaining a group of your keen foodie friends? Or perhaps you're after some fun in the kitchen for some corporate team bonding? A private celebration cooking up a favourite dish with only your closest family and friends?

Whatever your needs, the Private Class at VIVE can be tailored to suit. Led by Head Chef Julien Vasseur and housed within our newly created and customised school, we will happily come up with format and formula to create a truly unique kitchen experience to remember.

Like the sound of a private gig? To register your interest, please head here and pop in your details.

The VIVE kitchen may also be available exclusively for small, non-cooking events on request.