Pete Halupka and Lindsay Whiteaker have roots in Harvest, Alabama, so naturally they named their business making fermented non-alcoholic sodas, Harvest Roots Ferments. They make kombucha, which originated in Manchuria in northeast China, with sweetened premium oolong tea with added flavorings like ginger. Halupka and Whiteaker, who founded Harvest Roots in 2013, dated in middle and high school, then reconnected after college before marrying in 2016. We sat down with Halupka to learn more about the process.
What is kombucha and how is it made?
It’s tea-based. Ours is sweetened with organic cane sugar and fermented to produce a tangy, acidic, balanced, and refreshing soda-like quality. With kombucha it’s about having something that’s not too sweet and not too sour, something that’s crispy and quaffable.
What are people’s favorite flavors?
We have Ginger Sunshine made with high-quality organic ginger, lime zest and lemon zest. One of my favorites is Star Stuff, which is a Carl Sagan reference. We dry hop it with Galaxy hops, Mosaic hops, and Citra hops, which transform into this beautiful bouquet of pineapple and guava. Calm Seas is this beautiful blue kombucha. It’s coconut water, lime zest, a Schisandra (aka five-flavor fruit) sea salt that we make, and spirulina, which makes it blue naturally. Elderberry Wisdom is elderberry, cinnamon and lemongrass. My favorite one right now is Plant Matters, which has grapefruit zest, jasmine, and Mosaic hops.
Can you make kombucha out of any fruit, vegetable or aromatic?
Yeah. We’ve done pine needle, celery, and beet kombuchas. That’s what we’re known for, eccentric and interesting flavors.
What’s the weirdest one you’ve made?
Miso and mushroom kombucha was definitely the weirdest one we’ve ever made.
How did you launch your business?
We got our start at farmers markets, mainly Pepper Place (Saturday market in Birmingham), testing new recipes, seeing what people wanted, what people didn’t want, and refining our production and our craft. We’ve grown over the years very slowly and now have a 5,000 square foot brewery in Avondale with a taproom. It opened on Sept. 26, 2020.
Where can people find your products?
Our Avondale taproom. You can also find us at Piggly Wiggly in the Birmingham area. We sell at Greenhouse (Restaurant) in Homewood, Troup’s Pizza, Carrigan’s, El Barrio, The Essential. In Huntsville, Fractal Brewing. In Mobile, Virginia’s Health (Foods). In Fort Payne, Blue Jug (and Health Market). Florence: Rivertown Coffee. Tuscaloosa: Lucifer’s. And in Auburn, Mama Mocha’s (Coffee Emporium).