Kombucha: Is It Actually Healthy?
10 Kombucha Brands You Have to Try
Ever since we reported on the booming kombucha trend (or booch, as the cool kids call it), we've been wondering: What is the absolute best-tasting kombucha on store shelves today? So my fellow editors and I got our eager hands on 10 different brands and tried each one so you don't have to regret the to you drop on a bottle that tastes like sparkling cat pee. Spoiler: These brews varied drastically, and oddly enough, the ones with the most sugar were often the least appealing. Here's what impressed us, made us gag, or just made us shrug and say "meh."
1) Health-Ade Kombucha
Flavors tested:Pink Lady Apple, Beet, Ginger-Lemon
Calories:60 to 80 per bottle
Sugar:4-6 g per bottle
If we had to take one kombucha with us to a desert island, this organic, raw brew would be it. Our testers appreciated the great fizz, low sugar content, and the interesting flavors that didn't overshadow booch's signature tang. Pink Lady is like a sophisticated sparkling cider. Ginger-Lemon would be amazingly refreshing when you have a cold. And Beet was surprisingly not gross—"light, refreshing, and not too earthy," one tester said. Plus, the bottle is just begging to be repurposed for your next DIY project.
2) GT's Kombucha
Flavors tested:Original, Trilogy, Gingerade
Calories:60 per bottle
Sugar:4 g per bottle
If you drink kombucha, you've tried GT's. It's one of the most widely available brands on the market, and that's a good thing. Like Health-Ade, it's organic, raw, and keeps sugar content low while packing big flavor and fizz. Gingerade certainly had an addicting bite; one tester joked she "had to spend some time in rehab for it." The Original was deliciously simple with a subtle tea flavor, and Trilogy was fruity and had us wondering how it could have only 4 g of sugar per bottle.
MORE:Kombucha: Wonderful or a Big Waste of Money?
3) Kevita Masterbrew Kombucha
Flavors tested:Tart Cherry, Grapefruit
Calories:40 per bottle
Sugar:8 g per bottle (also contains stevia)
This is a solid booch that might appeal more to first-time drinkers. Its sweeter, more approachable taste is accomplished with the addition of stevia. For purists, though, it may come across as artificial. Testers were torn. Regardless, we appreciate that it's organic and probiotic-packed.
4) Live Kombucha Soda
Flavors Tested:Raw Root Beer, Living Limon
Calories:60 per bottle
Sugar:13.5 g per bottle (also contains stevia)
Unusual: That's the first word that comes to mind when sipping this organic fermented hybrid of soda and kombucha. These were sweet and tasted a lot like the sodas they were intended to mimic, though they had a slight stevia aftertaste. "I think I'd like the idea of a probiotic-filled option if I were an avid soda drinker," said one tester, "but the stevia got to me a bit." Also, we're curious why there is even a need for stevia when these still pack over 10 g of real sugar. But the stuff's still way better for you than a can of Coke.
5) Reed's Kombucha
Flavors tested:Goji Ginger, Coffee
Calories:64-80 per bottle
Sugar:14.5 -17.5 g per bottle
Points for creativity, Reed's, as one of the first commercially available coffee kombuchas. Sure, that may sound gag-inducing to some, but it's actually like a slightly fizzy, slightly tangy version of cold brew—yum. You could drink it as an iced coffee alternative on mornings you need an extra kick. Goji-Ginger was decent, but unmemorable, with testers preferring the more potent ginger punch of Health-Ade and GT's ginger flavors. Sugar content for these is a bit high for kombucha, which makes us sad.
6) Unity Vibration
Calories:72 per bottle
Sugar:18 g per bottle
Unity Vibration is so delicious that we might forgive it for having 18 g of sugar. It also packs a bit more than "trace" amounts of alcohol, unlike the other options here, so you need to be over 21 to buy it. While it won't get you drunk, you can certainly taste the alcohol. It's just boozy enough to satisfy a beer craving and might even make a great replacement for a typically 150-calorie bottle of suds.
MORE:Coconut Water is Lame: Five Drinks that are Way Healthier
7) High Country Kombucha
Flavors tested:Wild Root, Elderberry Hibiscus
Calories:30 per bottle
Sugar:4 g per bottle
High Country gets major points for great packaging. But an awesome-looking label doesn't always mean an awesome-tasting kombucha. Reviews were mixed: "Wild Root has an interesting anise flavor that could grow on me, but Elderberry is like old shoes," said one tester. And there was a noticeable lack of fizz, almost like a flat soda. We did appreciate the low sugar content, though, and it might have made a better impression if we weren't also sampling nine of its competitors. In other words, if this is at the store, it's worth trying.
8) Beyond Brewing Company
Flavors tested:Moroccan Mint, Wild Love
Calories:75 calories per 12 oz (Moroccoan Mint), 210-250 calories per 12 oz (Wild Love)
Beyond Brewing Company's kombuchas and kombucha beers are available on draught in the NYC area. Because it's a smaller brewery, no official sugar info is available, but we're still fans, given the company's efforts to use local and organic ingredients. Moroccan Mint is simply a kombucha made with a mint tea base, which one tester found to be "very light and nicely minty without the sour edge that some of the other kombuchas have." Wild Love, on the other hand, is a 7.5% ABV Belgian farmhouse ale that's been brewed along with kombucha, resulting in pure awesomeness. As one tester put it: "Amazing, delicious! Will you marry me?"
9) Kombucha Wonder Drink
Flavors Tested:Asian Pear + Ginger, Green Tea + Lemon
Calories:60 per can
Sugar:8 g per can
This is one of the few varieties we tried that was pasteurized, meaning it had been heat-treated to kill pathogens. The upsides: It's shelf-stable, there's no risk of food poisoning, and it's easy to toss a can in your bag without worrying whether it's going to explode. The downside: You're not getting the beneficial probiotic bacteria that booch is known for. As far as taste goes, one taster found it "odd," another found it "very odd, and not crisp or fizzy," and still another said, "OK, I could see myself drinking this." So, it's a toss up, but probably the best pick for hypochondriacs or those with compromised immune systems.
MORE:33 Ridiculously Funny Things You Won't Believe These Guys Said About Health Foods
Flavors tested:Lemongrass Ginger, Blood Orange
Calories:94 per bottle
Sugar:24 g per bottle
We give Bucha points because it's organic and contains probiotics. But it had the highest sugar content out all the kombuchas we tested, so while it's a good alternative for soda drinkers, it's likely too sweet for veteran booch lovers who are used to a more tart and tangy flavor.
Video: Kombucha tea dangers
The 6 Most Effective Strengthening Moves For Amazing Body Confidence
If You Dont Already Take Your Shoes Off At the Front Door, You Should
Your Tuesday TwitterRoundup
I turned a dating blog into a two-book deal’
25 Easy Makeup Ideas for Summer Parties
3 Ways to Eat Noodles
How to Recognize Hearing Loss
8 New Candles To Burn
How to Make a Retro Ponytail