Families move in together as sisters launch fermented tea firm

Thorayya and Shifa Mears launched Oichi Ferments in March last year

Thorayya and Shifa Mears launched Oichi in March last year - Credit: Oichi Ferments

Handmade kombucha delivered to your doorstep is a new service being offered in Norfolk after two sisters launched their sustainable drinks brand during lockdown. 

Thorayya and Shifa Mears launched Oichi Ferments in March last year having always dreamed of running a business with a difference. 

Having moved both their families - with five children between them - into a joint home in Sprowston the pair have been working full-time on the brand ever since and produce 600 litres of the fermented drink every week. 

"The dream is for people to think kombucha and think Oishi," said Shifa. 

Oichi Kombucha

Oichi Kombucha - Credit: Oichi Ferments

"My sister and I have always been a bit of a double act and when we found ourselves both based back in Norwich we wanted to launch a business which was sustainable and good for people.


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"Our mum always made kombucha growing up so that's why we landed on this - and other fermented products like saurkraut," Thorayya said. 

"I went through chemotherapy and it just makes you re-evaluate the value of what you're doing. That's why we go out and forage a lot of our ingredients and why our products change so seasonally, as well a offering the delivery service where we collect the old bottles to wash and reuse." 

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As well as selling direct to customers the sisters are also stocked in St Giles Pantry and the Green Grocers in the city centre, bringing them to a turnover of £4,000 a month. 

"We reinvest everything we make back into the business but we are looking for some more investment - maybe even through crowdfunding or a grant," Thorayya added. 

"At the moment we're doing it all ourselves as well as offering kombucha workshops and it would be good to employ some people and expand our production."  

Oichi Kombucha

Oichi Kombucha - Credit: Oichi Ferments

The products change seasonally depending on availability of locally sourced ingredients, with new flavours set to include elderflower and strawberry. 

Thorayya added: "Kombucha has a really interesting taste profile and a lot of people are put off by some brands which aren't as balanced - they can be quite bitter. We want to be proudly Norfolk's kombucha brand."

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