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Crossroads collaboration brings booch on tap, kegs, mocktails to MO’s (new) biggest kombucha taproom

DATE POSTED:February 9, 2024

Brewer’s Alley in the East Crossroads is getting a new kind of taproom, Kortney Lee and Lisa Bledsoe shared. In a freshly bottled collaboration, Tea-Biotics Kombucha opened Missouri’s largest kombucha taproom Friday in the former home of Community Groceries Crossroads Market.

Tea-Biotics Kombucha

“Beer is brewed; Kombucha is brewed, as well,” said Lee, who owns Community Groceries and is partnering with Tea-Biotics on the new taproom. “So why not have additional brewing options?”

The new location at 640 East 18th St. — the Tea-Biotics brand’s second taproom outside of its Olathe headquarters — is expected to feature 24 flavors of kombucha on tap.

“It helps lead to a healthier lifestyle that most people don’t normally get in the area,” Lee added. “When we think about places to eat and places to drink, there’s not a lot of places where you can just go in and drink something that’s healthier and great for you.”

Tea-Biotics — which founder Bledsoe started in her home in 2010 and has expanded into a thriving wholesale and retail business with products available at more than 700 retail locations in 17 states — originally opened up a taproom in Missouri on 39th Street in late 2019 but had to close it during the pandemic.

From the archives: Tea-Biotics Kombucha taps into thirst for better beverages

Lisa Bledsoe, Tea-Biotics Kombucha

Lisa Bledsoe, Tea-Biotics Kombucha; photo by Tommy Felts, Startland News

“It’s very exciting,” Bledsoe noted about the company’s return to Missouri. “I was actually going to open up a taproom and called Courtney and he was like, ‘We could collab on this and have Community Groceries partner up with Tea-Biotics’. So a new dream was born.”

Tea-Biotics Kombucha taproom in the East Crossroads; photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

On tap flavors are expected to include peach pineapple and grapefruit hibiscus — two of Lee’s favorites — plus the taproom will have cups with frozen fruit that the kombucha can be poured over to make a mocktail, he said.

“We’ll use the berries or fruit like its ice, so that keeps them nice and cold,” he added. “It’s really refreshing.”

Lee first opened Community Groceries in the Crossroads in January 2021 to provide access to affordable and healthy groceries, especially in underserved areas. The space became available for the taproom, he shared, after he consolidated his Crossroads Market — which he outfitted with Amazon’s Just Walk Out and Amazon One technology in early 2023 — into his new location at Troost and Armour in December.

Opening the taproom aligns with his mission of providing access to healthier options, noted Lee, who already had Tea-Biotics on tap in the former Crossroads Market.

“Kombucha doesn’t have high amounts of sugar, most of the product is organic, and it’s also great for your gut health,” he explained of the beverage that is crafted in small batches using live-culture scoby. “Instead of having Coke or Pepsi as options to drink, we want to provide a new staple, a new pathway of different drinking options.”

From the archives: Crossroads Market features Amazon tech for checkout-free convenience

For those who might be hungry, pre-made healthy food options like sandwiches, salads, and snack packs with fruits and nuts are expected to be available, Lee noted.

“If you’re on the go and you just want to grab (a bottle of) kombucha or you want to grab a deli sandwich, you can do that, too,” he explained.

While the Tea-Biotics taproom will offer paid refills in reusable glass containers and keg dispensers, that’s not the only way the two companies are showing their commitment to sustainability, Lee said. They’re repurposing fixtures from the Crossroads Market to make the bar and tables for the taproom. 

“Our taproom is not just a place to enjoy delicious kombucha; it’s a testament to our dedication to quality, sustainability, and the well-being of our planet,” Bledsoe added in a news release.

The taproom also will make use of the grid that previously housed the Amazon technology cameras to hang up local art, Lee shared.

“We’re working with local artists right now to get their artwork onto canvas,” he explained, noting the brands are partnering with East Crossroads neighbor Blue Bands Apparel for printing. “So customers also can come in and purchase whatever artwork that they like.”

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