At REAL, we are supporting The Red Cross in its Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal. This cause is incredibly close to all of us at REAL, none more so than our friend and colleague Oleg, Ukrainian national and REAL’s longest standing employee who joined co-founders David and Adrian as Technical Brewer in 2017.
As the war in Ukraine continues to threaten the liberties of so many Ukrainian nationals we feel compelled to do what we can to help. Oleg’s mother, and brother’s wife and children have fortunately been evacuated to Poland after several attempted journeys and a long, crowded bus ride from their home town of Kropyvnytskyi in central Ukraine. This is however sadly not the case for many Ukrainians who are currently without a safe place to call home.
REAL Chaynyy Kvas has been conceived as a not-for-profit limited special made and bottled to order. All profits will be donated to The Red Cross who are working tirelessly to provide food, water, first aid, warm clothes and shelter both to those fleeing Ukraine to seek refuge in the UK and to those that remain in Ukraine.
Thank you to Oleg for sharing this incredibly poignant and personal story with us. We are also very grateful to all of our suppliers who have kindly supported the production of this Ukrainian special in donating their time, materials and manpower in aid of a very worthy cause.
What is Kvas?
Kvas is a cereal based drink made in Slavic countries which is fermented in breweries using leftover loaves of rye bread from nearby bakeries. During the summer months in Ukraine, Kvas is served fresh from the barrel on street corners. Kvas is similar to beer however has a very low ABV of 0.7-1% depending on the region it is made in. Traditional Kvas is produced in breweries and cannot be recreated at home; consequently, during the winter months when it is too cold to walk to collect Kvas, mothers and grandmothers in Ukraine brew a non alcoholic, at-home version using black tea, sugar and cultures, this is called Chaynyy (Tea) Kvas, чайний квас.
The process of making traditional Chaynyy Kavs is extremely similar to what we do here at REAL. In Ukrainian kitchens, loose leaf tea is brewed and combined with sugar and live cultures from an old mother which has often been passed through generations shared between friends and family. When Oleg first joined REAL in 2017 and tried our range of sparkling teas, he immediately recognised their similarity to Chaynyy Kvas and was reminded of growing up in Ukraine.
What is REAL Chaynyy Kvas?
Some of you may remember a version of REAL we used to make many years ago called Smoke House, a rich, smokey brew made from Yunnan Black tea. Smoke House was Oleg’s favourite brew both to make and drink, largely due to its incredible similarity to the Chaynyy Kvas of his childhood.
When we discussed creating a limited edition brew in support of Ukraine there was no question as to what tea we should use. Chaynyy Kvas is therefore a reimagination of Smoke House, made using the same Yunnan Black tea. This brew (which is currently fermenting as we speak) is packed full of nostalgia and as well as the same rich, smokey apple flavours Oleg remembers so fondly.