Local Kombucha Supplier Expands Her Business
If you have ever been to the farmer’s market in Overland Park, you might have noticed the long lines at the Tea-Biotics stand where Lisa Bledsoe sells fresh, locally made kombucha on tap. Kombucha has been brewed for centuries in Asia and Eastern Europe. It is known as “elixir of life” and is becoming popular in the United States where a 2015 Markets and Markets analysis called kombucha the fastest-growing market in the functional beverages category, and they project sales will be up to $1.8 billion by 2020.
Kombucha is a fizzy drink made by taking green, black or white tea and then adding live bacteria and yeast. Kombucha brewers call the live ingredients “scoby,” which is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. They allow this tea mixture to ferment in an open container at room temperature for one to two weeks. Brewers flavor it with fruit, herbs and spices for the second fermentation process in a closed container, where the brew becomes carbonated.
Bledsoe, the founder of Tea-Biotics, is known as the “Scoby Master” and began making kombucha as a hobby when she was a stay-at-home mom. One jar gradually turned into two jars and then exponentially grew. She began giving it away at first, and then once she got her license, she began selling to a local chiropractor from her garage on Mondays. Later a friend suggested she teach students at the culinary school at the Broadmoor Technical Center. By this time she had outgrown making it in her house, so she began making it at the culinary school.
As her business kept growing she wanted her own space, so in April 2016 she leased a 2,000-square-foot commercial facility in Lenexa that opened later that year in September. Currently, they have been making 4,000 gallons per month, but this month she is doubling production to keep up with demand. Even with all this growth, Bledsoe’s main goal has not changed—she still strives to “provide a premium product at a reasonable cost.”
Bledsoe, a talented cook and former bartender, uses those skills to come up with unique flavors to make her own recipes. She uses organic cold-pressed fruit juice and herbs to flavor her tea and purifies her own water to ensure she sells the best product possible. Kombucha has a tendency to be sour, but she has tweaked the recipes to produce smoother flavors.
You can find Bledsoe at the Overland Park Farmers Market from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday morning. Her stand is located at the east entrance—opposite of the clock tower— just outside the pavilion where she also sells starter kits for people wanting to make their own kombucha. Her storefront at 11415 Strang Line Road in Lenexa is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. The store offers multiple flavors such as hibiscus grape, turmeric lime, purple carrot and chai apple. You can also find her kombucha at Simple Science Juices, Bulk It, Hen House, Barley’s Kitchen +Tap and The Suites at Sporting KC.
For more information on Bledsoe and Tea-Biotics go to Tea-Biotics.com.