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Byron Shire
March 30, 2023

Plant-based shrubs a hit with health-conscious people

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Katrina and Genna from Pyewackets Traditional.

A shared passion for slow food, real ingredients and old-fashioned methods was the catalyst for friends Katrina and Genna starting Pyewackets Traditional, a fermented botanical drink business, four years ago.

Based in the Northern Rivers, the handmade shrubs and tonics have garnered a cult following with regulars at Byron Farmers Market, not surprisingly, given Genna is a naturopath and herbalist and Katrina has years of fermenting experience.

‘We spend a lot of time explaining what the shrubs are, but once people try them they really love them,’ Katrina says. ‘We’re hoping they’re going to be what kombucha was ten years ago. Initially no-one knew what it was, but then it was the next big thing in healthy drink options.’ 

So, what is a shrub?

‘Shrubs are a concentrate made from fermented fruit and herbs, which is added to soda water to make a delicious and nutritious drink,’ Katrina says. ‘Historically, they were used as a way of preserving vitamins in fruit for out-of-season consumption – pre-refrigeration. 

‘We follow old-fashioned methods, so our shrubs and tonics are slow fermented and unpasteurised so the mother culture is alive and active. We use the mother culture of apple cider vinegar and then we feed it cold-pressed fruit juice and herbs – including rosemary, mints, basil, tulsi – most of which we grow ourselves.’

The duo also source fruit that is available locally and in abundance – often produce that would otherwise be wasted – and use fruit at its ripest when it is full of vitamins and nutrients.

Katrina says that while the shrubs are proving a hit with a lot of locals – including children – they are especially popular with people looking for a ‘grown-up’ alcohol-free drink.

‘I have people coming to me at the farmers’ market saying that the shrubs have helped them cut out alcohol, whether it’s for a week or a month, or forever. It feels so good to be a part of that and to be able to have a positive impact on people’s lives.’

Some of the best-sellers include: Watermelon Basil; Pineapple Mint; Emerald City, which contains cold-pressed celery juice, green apple, fresh mint and chlorophyl; and Blood Orange Turmeric, all of which are available at Byron Farmers Market and online at the Pyewackets Traditional website.

Karina says special limited edition small batch runs inspired by what’s available locally are available exclusively at Byron Farmers Market, where she also offers free taste testing and the option to return used bottles. Look out for the soon-to-be-released Summer Berry Horchata, which is made from blueberries and blackberries from Blueberry Fields and Marlivale Farm’s dryland rice, both of which are fellow farmers’ market members. 

You can find Katrina and Genna and their range of shrubs and tonics at Byron Farmers Market every Thursday morning. 

Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7–11am at Butler Street Reserve.

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