several years ago on the blog, we met with Jessa Stevens, co-founder of the (then new) Philly-made, small-batch kombucha business, Inspired Brews. Born in 2014 from the desire to bring the community together over locally sourced + locally produced healthy beverages, Inspired Brews has since increased their operation + portfolio with over 100 Philadelphia vendors carrying their seasonal, cultured creations. We recently stopped by their Old City headquarters to catch up + get the latest on the business, all while learning more about the benefits + production of kombucha...
hg: what exactly is kombucha + how is it produced? What about your process differs from other brewers?
jessa: kombucha is a fizzy, probiotic tea made by fermenting tea with a live culture, which adds that good bacteria for your digestion. We focus on producing small-batch, seasonally-inspired flavors, using ingredients procured locally.
hg: what are some of the health benefits of kombucha versus other alternatives such as sodas or teas?
- Kombucha is low in sugar (~6 grams per bottle)
- Contains acetic and gluconic acids which aid in detoxification
- High in B vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
- Low calorie content
- Improved energy, digestion, and immunity
- It's also very tasty
hg: what about kombucha drew your interest + motivated you to pursue opening a small business, ultimately launching Inspired Brews?
jessa: initially kombucha’s health benefits drew my interest. One of my passions is learning about food and how it can heal or destroy the body. Then the benefits I began to see in my own life kept me hooked: energy, stronger hair and nails, and…
"…the taste and creativity of brewing my own became an addiction."
I began to pursue a small business in kombucha when my best friend, and now business partner, expressed her passion for food + community. We decided to launch the business in hopes to inspire our community to engage with their food on a deeper level. We pursue this by sharing our values + creating a product that has a deeper meaning to us all.
hg: tell us a bit about the different flavors offered currently. Do you offer any seasonal options? Anything new brewing now?
jessa: right now we’re excited to see strawberries + rhubarb coming from local farms! We have a Strawberry Rhubarb with Fennel (also has some peppercorn!) which I’m in love with. Other seasonal favorites include: Elderflower Lemonade, New Leaf (rosemary, juniper, mint, chlorophyll) + Banana Ginger Lavender. We have some popular staples as well: Gingery (lots of organic ginger root), Rooted (a collaboration with Philly Food Works, containing beets, carrots, ginger, mint), Immunity Elixir (elderberry, hibiscus, echinacea) + The Dr. (a collaboration flavor with The Juice Dr. containing PA apples, ginger, lemon, and chlorophyll).
hg: have you noticed an increase in popularity in the kombucha marketplace in the last few years? What would you attribute this to?
jessa: I think it’s great to see people noticing how food can directly affect their health. There are also more studies coming out linking gut health to overall health. I think (and hope!) that this trend will keep people thinking about what they put into their body, while holding producers accountable for what’s being sold on the market. As a company…
"…we really feel strongly about knowing where our produce is coming from and how it’s grown."
There is so much that goes into everything we eat, and taking notice/being mindful of that is an important factor in being grateful for what we are consuming.
hg: what would you say to someone who is hesitant to try kombucha for the first time?
jessa: try a small shot of it. Every kombucha tastes different. You may actually be surprised to find that it’s satisfying and healthful!
hg: why did you decide to setup shop in Philly (Old City specifically)?
jessa: Old City has been the most amazing neighborhood. We wanted to set up shop in a space that was open to the public so that we could have interaction with the community. Sure, we sell to places all around the greater Philadelphia area, but you can stop in and talk with our staff about kombucha, sample specific flavors, and come to events hosted in the space.
hg: do you source your ingredients locally? If so, what are some local ingredients featured in your current brews?
jessa: currently, we source PA apples, NJ strawberries, PA rhubarb, PA beets, PA carrots + PA mint locally. If we can’t get produce locally, we source organic produce from the USA.
hg: how do you engage with the local community? Do you offer any events at your space or pop-up at other events throughout the region?
jessa: throughout the year we take part in Old City’s First Friday events by featuring local entrepreneurs + artists. We’ve also hosted kombucha making workshops, yoga, bachelorette parties, and company events within the space. We participate in pop-ups around the city providing refreshment while shoppers shop through wares of boutique studios/shops/grocery such as Mama’s Wellness Joint, Moon and Arrow + Green Aisle Grocery (editor's note: they've also set up shop alongside honeygrow at United By Blue's Bartram's Garden cleanup!).
hg: where else can we find Inspired Brews in the Philly area?
jessa: we are located in over 100 locations across Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Check out our website for a location serving our product closest to you!