Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A new gingery mixer that’s good for the guts




A new gingery mixer that’s good for the guts

Robert Lucas’s brews come in various flavours. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
Robert Lucas’s brews come in various flavours. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

A new gingery mixer that’s good for the guts

A stone’s throw from the hubbub of Stung Meanchey’s main thoroughfare, down a couple side streets and past an abandoned glass factory, Robert Lucas is fermenting ginger. The 29-year-old Los Angeles native makes “ginger brew”, a carbonated concoction he says is chock-full of natural probiotics – “beneficial bacteria good for the digestive and immune systems”.

While brewing had been a long-time hobby, Lucas turned his skills into a money-making enterprise nine months ago when he founded Jiva Probiotics.

“The intention for me in starting [two years ago] was as a health drink for myself. I was getting sick all the time,” he said. “Since I’ve been [drinking the brew], I’ve been sick only once in two years,” he claimed.

Lucas, who teaches English at the ACE school and has been in Cambodia on and off since 2009, said that the idea to monetise his heady hobby came about, like the fermenting process through which he breathes life into his ginger brew, naturally.

Lucas believes his fermented ginger drink has potent health benefits. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
Lucas believes his fermented ginger drink has potent health benefits. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

“I started sharing it with my friends and they said: ‘I would pay for this.’ And I said: ‘I can do that.’” So he started taking orders, mostly from his expat colleagues at the ACE school, and it grew from there. Along with the plain ginger variety, Lucas produces a handful of other flavours: lemon-lime, passion-fruit, ginseng, beetroot, watermelon and turmeric. Hibiscus is also in the works.

How to make your own ginger drink

For those interested in making the stuff themselves, Lucas’s process, which he acquired through trial and error (and the internet), is simple.

First he grinds up ginger root, which he buys from a countryside supplier, in a juicer (“12 kilos per 100 bottles”).

He then takes the pulpy juice and dumps it into a 10-litre glass jug with “reverse-osmosis, UV-radiated water from Eurotech”.

He lets the mixture sit for a week, adding sugar each day to aid in the fermentation process.

After that, he dilutes the concentrated gingery mix with some more water, lets it sit a few more days, and then bottles it in glass bottles that his 28-year-old sole employee, Kim Long, collects from local recyclers.

Jiva, which means “breath of life” in Sanskrit, is the second addition to Phnom Penh’s locally made probiotic drink selection. US expat Lance Thomas, founder of Kombutea Brewing Company, started peddling kombucha probiotic tea from his house a year ago. Lucas is the first to bottle probiotic ginger brew here.

Lucas said that the drink, which tastes like a more sour ginger ale, is intended as a casual sipper, to be taken chilled during meals or on its own. It is also a fine mixer for vodka and could possibly aid in lessening hangovers.

Lucas said he hoped one day to see his product in supermarkets. Right now it is only available through orders for $4 a bottle and at the Willow Boutique Hotel. He would also like to teach people how to make ginger brew themselves.

“This isn’t something that only one person can do; this is something anyone can do,” he said. “You see kids here drinking these sugary syrup drinks out of plastic bags. I’m hoping this will be one thing that makes people more conscious about what they put in their bodies.”
Jiva Probiotics can be purchased by calling Robert Lucas on 078 932 911 or emailing [email protected].

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from