Meet Locally Produced Kombucha at A Culture Factory

Fun, fizzy, fermented … kombucha. An old-world drink with roots in China and Europe is now found right here in Phoenixville, brought to you by A Culture Factory on Morgan Street. Upon entering the building you’ll first encouter the funky, modern lounge, where one can taste varieties and flavors of kombucha or take a class on fermenting. Large glass pods with floating cultures add to the lounge’s ethereal look, while large, colorful close-up pictures of cultures adorn the walls.

Culture Factory

What exactly is kombucha? It’s fun to say and even more fun to drink. Chef Olga Sorzano takes brewed organic fair trade tea, adds the naturally fermented SCOBY (the kombucha culture: a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), brews it with organic produce, herbs and spices and then bottles an effervescent and antioxidant all-natural beverage.

Culture Factory

Farther back is a room for tasting and classes, and the brewing station is in the back. Olga’s kombucha is her Baba’s Brew, named after her great-grandmother in Russia, with the logo of a squirrel. “She was the one who started brewing kombucha in our family way before I was born. She was the only child in her family, and her father gave her a nickname, ‘My Little Red Squirrel,’ due to her red hair,” Sorzano explained.

Culture Factory

“Even though I only remember her with gray hair, she was always a squirrel. My mom used to tell me: ‘Let’s go to Lil’ Squirrel today, she will take care of you.’ And she surely did. She raised me until I was six years old before she passed away. That’s why when we were thinking about how to name our company, it was a no-brainer. It was Baba’s Brew and a Lil’ Squirrel as our logo.”

Culture Factory

What does kombucha taste like? It’s a bubbly probiotic tea enhanced with seasonal flavors from local farms and partnerships like apples, lemon, honey, hibiscus and lavender. Kombucha is a great way to heal the gut—the probiotics in the drink contain enzymes that help with good digestion. It’s faintly sweet, fizzy and refreshing. It’s raw, vegan and gluten-free, and it makes a great mixer for adult beverages.

Olga found her way to Phoenixville first by way of the Midwest, working on a dairy farm for veterinary school, until one day a bull charged her and changed her mind on what she wanted out of the future. She came to Pennsylvania and enrolled in the Walnut Hill Restaurant School. Upon graduation, she became a personal chef for traveling families, and also worked with some great chefs in the Philadelphia area.

She opened A Culture Factory in June 2017, after working with the Artisan Exchange in West Chester, where many craftspeople and artisans can sell their edibles and gauge interest with a fantastic crowd. She also sold Baba’s Brew at local farmers markets. When she found the Morgan Street locale, she knew it was home. “I had a great vision of the tasting room, with the nano-brewery in the back,” said Sorzano. It’s a destination place, one where you can arrive for culture of all kinds.

The Tasting Room is currently open Saturdays 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and every first Friday, offering tastings, tours, classes on kombucha and yogurt making. “We always have seasonal kombuchas with our staples, so for fall we have pear, ginger, honey and apple flavors. Creating partnerships with local orchards, farms and CSAs is great for our product,” Sorzano noted.

Some people feel kombucha is an acquired taste, but it has the fizz of soda, the mild subtlety of tea and natural flavors—no essences; just the actual fruits. Kombucha is also low in sugar, all-natural, low carb and any color that comes from nature: hibiscus, blueberries, honey, etc. “We triple-filter our kombucha for ultimate taste and quality,” Sorzano explained. 

Golden Glow, a flavor with turmeric, is a very limited edition and only available on tap at A Culture Factory. “Our two new bottled seasonal flavors are Rosy Apple, with local apples from Frecon Farms, organic rosemary and a hint of hibiscus, and Asian Pear Ginger, with local Asian pears from Quarryville Orchard and fresh organic ginger,” Sorzano said.

Culture Factory

A Culture Factory is open every Saturday 10 a.m.–3 p.m., and first Fridays from 5–8 p.m. Look for the green parking sign for the parking lot. Stop in and try some kombucha, or take a class and get some culture in your life.

Find A Culture Factory at 333 Morgan St. in Phoenixville; phone: (267) 738-1973.

  • Photos: Christine Tarlecki