If you live in Eugene and you haven’t gotten on board with kombucha yet, you should really consider it. The probiotic tea is naturally full of live active cultures and antioxidants, and is also a super refreshing way to help your system stay in balance. Kombucha has been referred to as an “immortal health elixir,” but some people are still scared away by its fermented flavor and hippie dippy connotations. The secret to getting into this miracle drink, though, is simply finding the right brand. Here’ the ultimate guide to navigating the drink case and finding the perfect kombucha for you.
A quick note: These brands are judged based on their “gnarly factor” and “sweetness.” A gnarly kombucha tastes like pure vinegar and has major chunks of live cultures floating in the bottom. Remember, this isn’t totally bad because it takes some active cultures to make kombucha so healthy. The other factor, sweetness, ranges on a scale from “plain tea” to “is this a slurpee?” For comparison sake, I tried the ginger flavor (when possible) of every kombucha brand the store had.
1. GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha – Original
I’m gonna start off by acknowledging that getting Original was a mistake. My roommate got Lavender, which was apparently more drinkable, but this flavor? Not so much. This basically tasted like a concoction of black tea and vinegar, with some floating chunks of …..? (not even sure what, it’s not on the label) thrown in the mix. For hardcore kombucha fans, though, this is a pretty good choice. Light on sugar and heavy on probiotics, GT’s definitely takes the health aspect of probiotic tea seriously.
Gnarly factor: 8/10
Overall score: 3/10*
*Note: It was a 4/10 but as I was writing the score I swallowed a giant chunk of live active cultures and it lost a point.
2. Lion Heart Kombucha – Ginger Fixx
If you’re into ginger, bike on over to the grocery store right now and buy a case of this stuff. Light and zesty, a bottle of Ginger Fixx can wake you up without any caffeine or sugar buzz. Between its low sugar profile and minimal fermentation flavor, this drink is pretty mild. The only dominant flavor here is the ginger, which means you’ll probably either love it or hate it. Lion Heart doesn’t really have a traditional kombucha taste, but it’s definitely worth reaching for on a hot day.
Gnarly factor: 2/10
Overall score: 7/10
3. Kevita Master Brew Kombucha – Ginger
Fizzy, gingery, and caffeinated, Kevita is a great kombucha to wake you up or get you going. The carbonation and stevia sweetness of this drink make it taste like a combination of ginger beer, ginger ale, and iced sweet tea. It’s definitely heavy on the flavor and light on the fermentation, making it a good choice for those who aren’t too into kombucha yet.
Gnarly factor: 2/10
Overall score: 7.5/10
4. Humm – Lemon Ginger Kombucha
This drink is super refreshing and sweet, with a mildly spicy lemon aftertaste. It’s like the flavors of a hot cup of lemon ginger tea with the bubbly lightness of spring. The slight carbonation is a nice touch, and this is sweet enough for all the kombucha lightweights. Hardcore ‘buch drinkers might not find this drink to be a serious enough probiotic kicker, but for those looking for an entry level kombucha or a post-dinner sweet tooth quencher, it’s perfect. Sidenote: Humm’s Chai Spice flavor is absolutely unbelievable. 10/10 must try.
Gnarly factor: 4/10
Overall score: 8/10
5. Brew Dr. Kombucha – Just Ginger
Made using top-shelf tea from Townshend’s Tea Company, Brew Dr.’s kombuchas are definitely for people who enjoy artisanal tea drinks. The kombucha flavor itself is pretty mild, making these drinks feel like a hybrid of a very fancy iced tea and a pretty weak kombucha. With the exception of a few highly eccentric, mildly perfume-y flavors, this brand is sweet-but-not-too-sweet, refreshing, and accessible to entry-level kombucha drinkers. This was actually the brand that got me into kombucha (I had tried a few gnarlier ones and couldn’t get on board), and the spiced apple flavor is a can’t-miss for all first time drinkers.
Gnarly factor: 3/10
Overall score: 9/10