Tealixir—Brewer Q&A

Based in: West Palm Beach, FL
Founded: 2014
Distribution: South Florida & nationally through Amazon

 

This is one of those rare flavors we come across, which really underscores for us of why we are obsessed with kombucha. It's just so damn unique and well-made. It's why kombucha is in its own category within the beverage market—there is, simply, an otherworldly quality to it! It tastes like something familiar, and yet completely unexpected.

Dr. Marigold, from Tealixir Kombucha is that kind of flavor. There is a lingering note of hibiscus, that is dressed up in orange, cinnamon, clove. And there are also medicinal herbs in there, like St. John's Wort, Ginko and Echinacea. Just a swirl of flavors and benefits. And we think it's super cool that their kombucha can be ordered online for national delivery. You can buy their brews directly through Amazon.

We are incredibly impressed with this brand and all of their flavors, and are excited to share our in-depth Q&A with founder Daniel McCarthy, who runs the brand with his wife Olivia. We chatted with Daniel about everything from why they can instead of bottle to what it's like being in business with your partner! Read on, booch-heads and get inspired!
 

Kombucha Hunter: Why did you decide to can your kombucha instead of the traditional bottling? Do you feel that it’s ultimately more cost-effective, for you as a company, and for the consumer too? Or are there other benefits to canning kombucha?
Daniel McCarthy: In our opinion, cans are far superior for many reasons! We use 12 oz premium BPA-free lined cans that offer draft fresh taste you just can’t get in a bottle. Air-tight and light-tight, cans hold the carbonation and taste better. Cans are more convenient - perfect for the gym, beach, pool, boat, street festivals and other places where glass is forbidden. Cans are safer for kids to enjoy! Cans have a smaller carbon footprint and are more easily (and more likely) recycled than bottles. Cans are more economical for us as a company and for the consumer and are easier and less expensive to ship. There is less dangerous breakage and geometrically, we can ship more at a time!

KH: Tell us a bit about your backgrounds and how you got into brewing kombucha, and ultimately becoming a commercial brewery?
DM:
Olivia and I started our life as kombucha brewers about five years ago when we were owners of an organic restaurant in Nashville, TN. I was a home beer brewer at the time and started brewing kombucha in the restaurant. The kombucha quickly became the most popular item in the restaurant! We eventually closed the restaurant and opened our own small 200 gallon capacity brewery and distributed kegs around town and sold at farmer’s markets. People loved our product and our branding and we were confident that we had a winner! Anxious to launch in a big market, we moved to South Florida and opened our current facility which has quickly grown to 6,000 gallons of production and our own canning line.

KH: We’ve met a lot of kombucha brewing couples! What’s it like being in a kombucha business with your partner, from your point of view?
DM: Managing a decade long marriage, two young daughters and a quickly growing beverage company definitely has its stresses and blessings! We just make it work as best we can. I’m passionate about brewing and Olivia is passionate about herbal health. We love what we do and when you are doing what you are passionate about, it doesn’t feel as much like work. But when we have a difference of opinion, I usually argue until I have no more strength and remember women have babies, because they are stronger than men.

KH: We’ve talked to many brewers from all over the country, who each have their own experiences in clearing various regulations in order to become licensed commercial brewers. Did you encounter any challenges in clearing regulations in West Palm Beach?
DM:
Dealing with any governmental agency is always challenging! Fortunately for us, there has been huge growth in the craft beer industry in South Florida over the last few years. So when we launched Tealixir, we had government officials who were knowledgable and accommodating. The most painful part of the process was how long we had to wait for the permits and licenses to be approved—in business, time is money after all and we had a fully built out brewery with monthly bills to pay while we waited without incoming cash flow to be able to start selling our brews.

KH: Your brews contain a lot of really wonderful herbs and flavors. Where do you source most of them? Do you have local farms that you work with?
DM:
Our 3 flavors are inspired by the herbal traditions of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and North American Folk remedies and since we use herbs and spices unique to each one of those traditions we source ingredients from all over the world - and in a bulk quantity. It would be impossible to do that using local farmers here in Florida. Our suppliers are all organic, fair-trade, and kosher. Unlike almost every other kombucha brand on the market, we never add fruit juices to flavor our brews, instead all ingredients are steeped directly in the boil, which allows for superior taste, a potent extraction of the medicinal benefits of the herbs and spices, and lots of creativity.

All images property of Kombucha Hunter. Please request permission for use.

All images property of Kombucha Hunter. Please request permission for use.

KH: The packaging is really fun and creative. Who comes up with the illustrations?
DM:
We come up with the designs and have our design illustrate them. We wanted a label that would really jump off the shelves and our very talented graphic designer Dean Tomasek from Nashville, TN brought that all to life for us.

KH: What advice would you give home-brewers who are thinking about going commercial?
DM:
Decide if it’s what you really want to do and if it is...just do it! If you think too much about it, you might not! There are so many different components to running a successful microbrewery that it can be overwhelming. But if you are passionate about what you’re doing and take the time to really study the business and the craft, then opening up a micro brewery doesn’t have to be complex. It doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money. It doesn’t require years of schooling. It doesn’t require previous brewery experience. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. It doesn’t require numerous employees. You don’t need a ton of accounts. Or even a major league distributor. Or a distributor at all. You just need hard work and passion. And a little start up pocket change helps!

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