It’s no secret that Birmingham is overflowing with local makers. But I’m new here, so discovering all of the amazing local businesses here has kind of become a fun game for me! Recently, I found Better Kombucha and had to know more about this local fizzy drink.
If you’re not familiar, Kombucha is simply fermented tea—usually sweetened and flavored. It’s been around for thousands of years and it’s speculated it originated in China. But recently, it’s become more mainstream
Better Kombucha’s Early Beginnings
“I’d always been interested in food and the way it makes you feel… I always leaned toward the healthier side of things…I just knew that putting good things in my body, made me feel better.”Nancey Legg
Nancey Legg, the founder of Better Kombucha, learned about hard work and how to be resourceful at a young age. She grew up on a small family farm where her mom taught her about preserving food by canning and the fermentation process by making sauerkraut.
“I wasn’t afraid of a little elbow grease and hard work.”
She moved to Birmingham more than 30 years ago to attend UAB and has since raised her family here.
Here Goes Nothing
It was the early 2000s when she was first introduced to kombucha—but it was hard to find, and there wasn’t much variety in Birmingham.
“For me, I’ve always had the mentality of if I can make it, why buy it? So, I started reading more about kombucha and how people had been making it for thousands of years.”
That was that. In 2013, she started brewing her own kombucha. Gradually, she started making more and more until finally, she had to figure out if the business would work.
They tested the waters at a very small local farmers market over the summer of 2015, and people couldn’t get enough. Word of Legg’s new business venture spread to local coffee shops and restaurants. That’s when they realized their potential.
What started as a project for her family, is now a statewide operation. So far, you can find their products not only in Birmingham, but also Auburn, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville. In 2018 they made and sold over 3,000 gallons of kombucha.
“It’s not a lot in the beverage world, but it’s a lot when you started making a gallon on your kitchen counter.”
Changes on the Horizon
Things aren’t slowing down any time soon. Currently, they are working on rebranding and preparing to move to a larger space. At the moment, they reside at Innovation Depot downtown, and in the next few months, they plan to expand the business into a larger space where they can increase production.
The Why Behind it All
“The most rewarding thing has been truly the community—getting to know more people that are like-minded, that care about their health, that care about organic things, that just care about the community—it all comes together.”
Better Kombucha is solely wholesale except for when they set up shop at the Pepper Place Farmer’s Market.
“It’s a long day. You’re going the whole time, and you’re exhausted—but the beautiful thing is the people—the relationships…We’ve watched little kids grow up. We see the same families coming back and buying from us, and they know us… That’s been the most rewarding thing: the community we’ve built around the business.”
Taste for Yourself
You can find Better Kombucha in 15+ stores and shops in and around Birmingham like Sprout & Pour and Revelator Coffee. You can also get it on tap at Hop City and Ovenbird in Pepper Place, or Frutta Bowls at the Summit.
Kombucha newbies: Legg recommends starting with their Apple or Ginger flavor. If you’re in the mood to branch out, try the Lavender flavor or one of their seasonal flavors, like Honeysuckle or Strawberry!
Feeling inspired to start your own kombucha business now? They also sell SCOBY’s (basically the starter for the whole fermentation process) and “how to” instructions for $20. SO COOL.