We’ve all been there. You hop on the bandwagon ‘cos you think it’s heading to funkytown, but the town is not at all funky when you arrive there, my friends. Not. At. All.

In my case, the bandwagon was brewing my own kombucha, and the funk was Alex’s six-week battle with a bacterial infection. How do we let this kind of thing happen?!

Wind back the clock. Kombucha. Suddenly it’s on the menu, suddenly it’s on the scene. In your favourite cafe, in your friends’ eager hands. “What’s this?” you ask, cursing yourself, already behind. They hide their smiles and reply, “Oh, you’ll love it.”

And you do. And it’s painful (but not as painful as septicaemia, friends), so you have to one-up them. “Ah, you think. “No longer shall the kombucha own me: but I shall own the kombucha!” This is the founding myth of the modern kombucha brewer. As it turns out, the ancient Manchurian farmers who prepared this elixir had stumbled onto not simply the nectar of the gods, but something rather more Faustian; a promise, it seems, that one handle their newfound flavours with care.

One errant spill of the nectar, a miscalculation in the batch, or accidentally leaving it in the fridge for too long, and your apocalypse arrives, personalised to your iPhone’s theme.

Alex, we’re praying for you. The universe is a cruel joke. As you all know, Alex is experimenting with embracing their nonbinary gender, so as you can imagine there was a bit of a holdup in the emergency room as we tried to ask for a form that was fillable instead of checkable. I swear to you, I had tears in my eyes as they, weak but stubborn, fighting off infection even as we argued back and forth, refused to budge on their principles. In the end we had to cave of course, but the battle was beautiful — and the war will be won, friends, the war will be won.

I shall give up the homebrewer’s path for now. But there is a mountain to climb, and I shall never forget it. In time I shall return to the golden roads that once ran up and down the dales of East Asia, and I shall conquer my Everest. And Alex will be by my side, fit and healthy and fighting strong, free at last from the eternal plague, the ‘oops’, the pitfalls that leave the love of this life coughing up blood all over your only wickerwork chair.


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