The face I make when someone says they don’t like kombucha….
The kombucha scene is hoppin’ y’all. And I am totally obsessed – no shame whatsoever. It was slow to take shape, but I have grown to be a kombucha-aholic and might even be considered a kombucha connoisseur by some standards. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, kombucha might sound like a highly-contagious disease. And it is everywhere, so, yes in a metaphorical sense, you could say it is contagious.
So, why should you know what it is? Well, I’m here to break it down in terms that make sense and possibly, help you discover your new favorite thing. I’m putting an end to the confusion and inviting you into the kombucha cult (that sounds more ominous than intended, but you get my point).
So… What is it?
Kombucha is a fermented drink that comes in a variety of flavors and contains a slew of live bacteria cultures. Yes, I know that sounds disgusting, but bear with me.
Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, but like the most revered artists, it has only become popular years later. It likely originated in China or Japan where it acquired the nickname “mushroom tea” due to the mushroom like blob that forms from a SCOBY (“symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”) on the surface of the tea-based drink during the fermentation process.
If you have tried kombucha, you might have noticed a slightly alcoholic or vinegary taste – and that’s how it should taste because post-fermentation, kombucha does contain trace amounts of alcohol and vinegar. But, not enough to give you a buzz – sorry folks.
What to look for on the Label
Although kombucha is a catch-all for all different varieties of fermented tea, not all kombuchas are created equal. Be sure to look at sugar content and what percent of the tea is comprised of juice. Some bottles can contain upwards of 30% juice and by consequence, contain more sugar due to its juice concentration – at which that point, you’re probably better off just drinking regular green tea. Kombucha is not cheap (around $5 a bottle) so reading the label matters.
However, on a more superficial level, you might want to consider the factors that will affect the flavor of the kombucha as well. Look at the alcohol concentration listed on the bottle before diving in headfirst because the percentage matters (most contain less than 0.5% alcohol). Some brands definitely have a more in-your-face vinegary aftertaste that might be off-puttting for beginners. Additionally, for texture-freaks like myself, you might want to stay away from the varieties that contain chia seeds, which take on a slimy texture when added to liquid. That being said, chia seeds are high in fiber and have been linked to both cardiovascular and digestive health, as well as increases in energy, so don’t rule it out immediately.
At this point, I’ve thrown a lot of information at you all at once. If you just want some general guidance before hitting the kombucha aisle in your grocery store, I’ve got you covered. Look at the list below for a breakdown of some of the weak v. strong varieties out there. Let me know if you try any of these and if you love them, hate them, or just found the best new brew that I should try (I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing). I love getting feedback from y’all and hope this information is usable in your next kombucha endeavor!
For the Hardcore Kombucha Drinkers: