The Ladies of NessAlla Kombucha: Podcast!

Vanessa Tortolano and Alla Shapiro of NessAlla Kombucha with 16oz bottles and growlers of their product.
Vanessa Tortolano and Alla Shapiro of NessAlla Kombucha

I am thrilled to be bringing you my recent conversation with Vanessa Tortolano and Alla Shapiro, owners of NessAlla Kombucha in Madison, Wisconsin. Followers of Kombucha Kamp met NessAlla during our New Year’s ReVolution: Drink Kombucha! event in January.

I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know these ladies and sampled (okay guzzled) their delicious Kombucha when visiting my home town of Chicago last year.

Vanessa Tortalano bites down on a huge Kombucha SCOBY held by Alla Shapiro, both of NessAlla Kombucha in Madison Wisconsin
Dog bites man. Woman bites SCOBY.

They deliver a tart, refreshing booch that reminds me very much of my own and my family easily knocked off the growler and 16oz bottles (we made a second trip for more) over the Thanksgiving weekend, which is when we need our Kombucha benefits like digestive assistance the most. Thanks gals!

I have also come to admire these savvy business ladies for infusing their hearts, minds and personalities into their company, one that grew organically from their passions as herbalists and community builders. It seems they found perfect partners in each other, and you can hear in their back and forth patter how they compliment one another’s strengths.

The full line of NessAlla Kombucha in 16oz and growlers
The full line of NessAlla Kombucha

They’ve got a great event coming up on March 6 in Madison called “The First Annual Kombuch-OFF!!!” which promises to be a hootin’, hollerin’ good time including homebrew contests, talented cooks crafting fine Kombucha related dishes and much more. Plus, say it with me now, It’s All For Charity! Woot!

So click below to listen to this fun podcast with Alla and Vanessa. A basic log of questions is down below if you want to jump around, but we really had a good time chatting so I hope you enjoy listening to the whole thing!

Click Play Below to Listen to the Podcast!

00:00 – How did you come up with the name NessAlla?

01:00 – How did you meet? How did you get into the Kombucha?

04:30 – Alla talks about how she drank Kombucha as a kid and didn’t even know it! (oh yeah, in Russia!)

06:30 – In Europe, Kombucha is everywhere these days. And how Kombucha adapts to its environment to provide what’s needed for people in that location.

07:40 – What ingredients do you use in NessAlla Kombucha?

09:00 – How has Madison received Kombcuha and your business?

11:00 – Vanessa and Alla talk about how they work with the community to source local ingredients and supplies while also being green with leftover tea and scobys and growlers/bottles.

13:30 – The ladies talk about The First Annual Kombuch-OFF!!, their charity event on March 6th. Flavors, desserts, food, cocktails, all with Kombucha! Benefits the Farm-To-School program.

16:00 – Bartering Kombucha and the benefits of engaging the new local economy.

20:30 – Why do they continue teaching people to make Kombucha? Doesn’t that cut into their market?

22:30 – NessAlla is expanding and recently moved into a new bigger space. But everything is still hand crafted.

26:00 – Why NessAlla DOES NOT want to be a national brand and what kind of distributors they like to work with, including their new Chicago distributor Natural Direct.

27:45 – How do you select our seasonal flavors?

30:15 – What’s your flavoring process? Strictly flavored tea or other ingredients?

31:30 – Is Chicago waking up to NessAlla Kombucha?

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All photos courtesy of My Year of Food

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