Meet 24-year-old Gooi Jia Yi and her series of quirky kombucha flavours 

gooi jia yi microfermentarium
This 24-year-old MasterChef wants to push the limits of your tastebuds with her unique kombucha pairings

What do onions, Sichuan peppercorns, fennel, and rosemary have in common?

If you answered that they’re all herbs and spices, you are not wrong.

More specifically, these are all ingredients used by sustainability consultant Gooi Jia Yi, 24, for her upcoming series of kombucha and water kefir, to be launched on the BlockChef platform. 

If you found this bubbly personality a tad familiar, you may have recognized Jia Yi, from last year’s Masterchef Season 3, or perhaps caught her representing the country in wakeboarding events. 

Between her full-time consultant role and being a national wakeboarder, Jia Yi also loves spending time tinkering with kombucha flavours in her home kitchen. 

All that tinkering has led to some very interesting flavours. 

If the idea of onion in your kombucha unnerves you (don’t worry, we did a double-take too!), rest assured that this inventive brewer pairs each herb with a complementary fruit so you don’t just taste the herb. 

Intrigued? Us too — and honestly it doesn’t taste as crazy as it sounds. 

Every bottle of Kombucha from Microfermentarium is an unpredictable yet palatable mix of flavours. 

How Microfermentarium came about

Speaking with her in the lead-up to the launch of Microfermentarium through Blockchef, Jia Yi tells us that she first started brewing kombucha in early 2022, simply because kombucha seemed “relatively easy to make”.

It also helped that her sister was a huge kombucha fan and that her father had underlying gut issues which he has been ameliorating with probiotic pills. However, the pills were expensive and Jia Yi felt compelled to do something about it. 

And so she did.  

The dutiful daughter began brewing kombucha for her family, and soon enough her father was able to come off the probiotic pills entirely. 

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented sweetened black tea drink that is typically consumed for its health benefits, including adding probiotics to your gut. 

In fact, her father’s gut health turnaround is what motivates her to keep this kombucha hustle going. 

Jia Yi herself is such a proponent of the benefits of kombucha that she consumes 100 ml of the mildly fizzy beverage daily. She adds that if you do not consume it often, having a little more would not hurt. 

No flavours too crazy to try

Before the idea for Microfermentarium came about, Jia Yi had previously entertained the idea of selling her kombucha online and had been giving her friends samples to try. 

Being approached by Blockchef spurred her into action and she got to thinking about the types of flavours she could sell on the platform. 

She tells us, “I like to play around with flavours, like with fruits and herbs”. 

As crazy as her kombucha flavours may sound, Jia Yi admits that coming up with them really isn’t rocket science. 

For this kombucha enthusiast, it’s simply a case of thinking through what flavours may or may not work, followed by whatever she has stocked in the fridge.

No ingredient is off-limits.

Jia Yi regales a time when she saw wasabi sitting in her fridge and she thought to just give it a go, pairing it with cucumber. The result was not amazing but was drinkable, she concedes.

That said, the flavours for her initial launch with Blockchef are more than just “drinkable”.

These 250ml bottles are great for taking your kombucha on the go.

For a start, Jia Yi’s Microfermentarium will be selling these flavours in 250ml and 500ml bottles:

  • Onion Hibiscus Kombucha 
  • Guava Sichuan Kombucha
  • Grape and Rosemary Water Kefir
  • Orange Fennel Water Kefir

Water kefir has similar health benefits to kombucha but doesn’t contain caffeine, great for those who might be caffeine-sensitive or are staying away from caffeine. 

The long-awaited taste test

As someone who does not regularly take kombucha, Jia Yi’s kombucha and water kefir felt like a nice, mildly sweet and fizzy treat that I could easily have after my meals. 

The Grape and Rosemary Water Kefir was refreshing — the subtle sweetness of the grape coupled with the earthy aroma of rosemary gave the drink an almost herbaceous feel. 

For the Onion Hibiscus Kombucha, I have to admit it took me a while before I managed to get myself round to drinking it. Somehow the idea of onion water did not quite appeal to me. 

But once I did, I absolutely could not stop. It was at that point I remembered Jia Yi’s reminder about having no more than 100ml a day, and so I stopped, albeit reluctantly.

Both hibiscus and onion are distinct flavours themselves — the hibiscus is floral yet tart, and the onion pungent. 

Yet when they come together it made for an incredibly intriguing combination that first has you going — wait, what was that? And then you down yet another mouthful trying to make sense of this uncommon taste, and before you know it, you would have finished the entire bottle. 

Don’t believe me? Order one (or five) from Blockchef and give it a go.

And if you think Jia Yi is going to stop at kombucha, think again.

This experimental, young chef tells us that her Masterchef Singapore experience taught her that “there is so much more to cooking” and that it inspired her to be a bit different in her flavour pairings.

Last we heard, she might be planning a kueh and kombucha pairings (ala wine and cheese), as a nod to her previous home-based kueh-making business. 

Or perhaps Jia Yi might even find a way to combine kueh flavours within kombucha — only time will tell. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *