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Meet Heather Van Tassell of Mad Scientist Kombucha

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Van Tassell.

Heather, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve had digestive problems for as long as I can remember. My boyfriend and now husband, John, introduced me to a product he found at a Farmers Market called kombucha. It had a funny name and definitely a different but pleasantly tart taste. But it really helped me. I enjoyed the product for a while, buying it from the Farmers Markets or grocery stores, but was concerned the amount of sugar in it.

I decided to try my hand at making my own, where I could better control the sugar. As an actual scientist (the name really does come from my personal background) I set up my experiment. I worked out different amounts of sugar and fermentation times to find my perfect balance of flavor with minimal residual sugar. This took me quite a while, but that is the perfectionist in me. I made kombucha just for us for the longest time. Eventually, friends convinced me to sell it. So I set out to gather all the necessary certifications, commercial kitchen, and permits to make it happen. The rest is history.

I sold my first bottle in May of 2015 and never looked back. I love the product, I believe in its value, and enjoy hearing how much it has done for so many of my regular customers.

Has it been a smooth road?
We have learned so much along the way. I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my husband, John Van Tassell.

In the beginning, I struggled with adapting my small batch approach to larger volumes for sale to the public. I still make my product in small batches (half-gallon jars just like I made at home) but have adapted our process to streamline production for larger volumes. Finding the right tools and toys was the key to making our lives so much easier. You wouldn’t believe how long it takes to cool a 7 gallon pot of tea! The best purchase I have ever made comes in the form of copper tubing. A wort chiller. Thermodynamics is a wonderful thing!

Other struggles include finding the right market to sell our product. You have to figure out where a large enough population that enjoys your product shops. I am not in denial that kombucha doesn’t appeal to everyone. Once we found our sweet spots, we were golden! We have garnered a large following over the years and have been able to serve some amazing loyal customers that enjoy the product as much as we do.

Each new step has its growing pains, but I welcome the opportunity to grow and reach more people with our great product.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Mad Scientist Kombucha – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
We make small-batch, artisan brewed kombucha. We only use natural ingredients and I insist on maintaining my original flavor by continuing to brew in half-gallon jars, regardless of how many gallons of brew we make. I focus my recipes on low-sugar flavors. That is what most sets me apart from my competitors, both local and national. I feel like drinking a sugar-loaded beverage defeats the purpose of consuming it for healthy reasons.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Born and raised in Houston, I am a home-town girl. There is so much I enjoy about our fine city. From the way we can come together in times of need (e.g., Harvey) to the many fun things there is to do here (museums, concerts, plays, events, etc.). Houston is a foodie city! I love the restaurant offerings and enjoy the artisanal vendors at the farmer’s markets. You can get anything from grass-fed beef to fresh made pasta and even locally grown mushrooms!

What do I like least about our city? Well, there is the traffic. So many people have decided to make our city their home. We just need to make a little more room for them.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Heather Van Tassell

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