Are you aboard the Kombucha train yet? The fermented tea was once a health food store secret, kept in the kitchen of hippies across the globe. But the tea is quickly becoming a fad.

I heard about the benefits of Kombucha a couple years ago and naturally became obsessed with the sparkling probiotic drink. Yogis and health-minded folk alike were boasting about the drink, and I felt like I was in on a great kept secret elixir. Fast-forward to today and the drink is popping up in stores everywhere. Not that I’m complaining, but with all the choices of Kombucha tea, how do you know if you are getting the most bang for your buck?

When deciding which brand of Kombucha tea to try, first consider the flavor you want, since that will influence your Kombucha experience more than any other factor. My favorite is Synergy Trio or Synergy Mango. The only flavor that you can really go wrong with is ginger, and that goes for any brand. I repeat, do not try a ginger Kombucha tea your first time; you will regret it and your taste buds will forever hate you.

Just like all of life’s important decisions, you have to consult the mother. And no, in this case I am not taking about your darling mother at home. The bacteria that is responsible for all of the health-boasting qualities in Kombucha is actually referred to as “the mother” which is a mass of probiotic bacteria. Look at the bottom of the bottle and always make sure that there is a whitish mass at the bottom. This is the mother and is important for you to get your money’s worth.

The process of making Kombucha is fairly easy, and I have experimented with it for many months (to the dismay of my roommates), bottling the good batches in my mason jars and gagging as I drain out the overly-vinegar tea. The fermentation is a lot like brewing beer, not that I’ve ever successfully brewed beer but I would say that I am a very successful Kombucha master.

You may or may not become a Kombucha regular, but if you take anything away from this article remember this, DO NOT SHAKE THE BOTTLE BEFORE OPENING. Let’s just say that my favorite leather bag and white coat had to learn this lesson the hard way.