Kombucha has been in the wellness spotlight for a while now. It's not out of the ordinary to see the "booch" in places that aren't necessarily health-food stores. I've seen them at bodegas, gas stations, big-chain grocery stores, Target, and Walmart. The fermented tea is very much mainstream now, even though it's been in existence for thousands of years.
"Today's thriving kombucha industry is showing no signs of slowing down," says Hannah Crum of Kombucha Brewers International, a trade organization committed to promoting and protecting the brew globally. "The kombucha category has been on an upward trajectory since 2014; it's grown 30% in the natural channel and 50% to 75% in the conventional channel year over year. Kombucha is the fastest-growing functional beverage category and is poised to hit $3.5 billion by 2025 with more than 700 commercial brewers in the United States and 1700 commercial brewers worldwide."
The reason for the uptick? Crum says it's because many consumers are looking for healthier, more functional products. The fermented tea is probiotic-rich, which can be beneficial to your gut health. According to The Cleveland Clinic, kombucha not only contains the good-for-the-gut probiotics, but it also has antioxidant polyphenols, which can decrease inflammation; B vitamins; minerals; and organic acids.
And while it's easy to get crazy about kombucha when you hear about those benefits, like anything, moderation is key. Drinking too much could lead to headaches, nausea, GI distress, or ketoacidosis in some people, per The Cleveland Clinic.
When choosing a kombucha, it's up to personal preference, but Crum suggests doing your research, as some are more intense and traditional than others. "Traditional kombucha contains raw, unpasteurized yeast (the jelly that floats around) and will be present in every bottle," she explains. "It should contain three things: tea, a fermentable sugar, and a kombucha culture. When created with these ingredients and properly produced, the drink will naturally form a sediment after it's bottled, and it will also naturally become effervescent."
If you're ready to shop, take a look at some of our recommendations below.
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Health-Ade kombucha is brewed in small batches in Los Angeles—in 2.5-gallon glass vessels, to be exact. The products are certified USDA organic, non-GMO verified, and made with cold-pressed flavors from fresh ingredients. We love the unique flavors, including bubbly rose, blood orange-carrot-ginger, cayenne cleanse, and jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber. (My personal favorite is Pink Lady apple.) And better yet, the company composts its manufacturing waste, including the tea bags, juice pulp, and SCOBYs.
Started in 1995 in Los Angeles, GT's Kombucha is another popular, beloved brand. Founder GT Dave began bottling kombucha in his parents' home at age 15 and selling it to local health-food stores. There are three lines of kombucha: GT's Synergy Kombucha, GT's Classic Kombucha and GT's Hard Kombucha. All of the products have 100% certified raw and organic kombucha and juices and are free of artificial colors and flavors.
Better Booch's small-craft kombucha is made with premium loose-leaf tea, herb, and botanicals and doesn't have any added juice, syrups, or sweeteners. Every batch is tested thoroughly for things like probiotic count, yeast count, sugar content, and alcohol content. Flavors include Golden Pear, Ginger Boost, and Hola Horchata. The brand does good too by providing support to nontoxic cancer research through the City of Hope's Program of Natural Therapies.
Like many kombucha brands on this list, Remedy started when the founders started brewing the drink at home. The brand's kombucha is made in small batches and brewed for 30 days. The drinks contain zero sugar, since the sugar is converted into organic acids during the fermentation process. Flavors include Raspberry Lemonade, Bibiscus Kiss, and Cherry Plum.
Humm started in 2008 as Kombucha Mama when its founders started home-brewing kombucha and selling it door-to-door. Now, the brand is available in 50 states, Sweden, and Guam. Offerings include its original kombucha in various flavors, and Humm Kombucha Zero, which is sugar-free and 10 calories.
Founded in 1999, Wonder Drink's offerings are guaranteed non-alcoholic (less than 0.5% alcohol by volume). This is done by a proprietary two-step fermentation process, which also helps them control the amount of sugar in the product. The brand also has the first-of-its-kind prebiotic kombucha. ICYMI: Prebiotics are known to fuel probiotics.
Based in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, Holy Kombucha's products are raw, vegan, gluten-free, and certified organic. Noteworthy flavors include Blood Orange, Green Apple Ginger, Hibiscus Sangria, and Blueberry Lavender Lemon-Aid.
Brew Dr.'s founder originally owned a teahouse and started brewing kombucha there. It was a hit with customers, so he decided to bottle it and name it Brew Dr. Kombucha. Today, the offerings are still made of high-quality ingredients like organic teas, herbs, and fruits. All of the products are certified USDA organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
Boulder-based Rowdy Mermaid brews its kombucha based on the seasonality of its ingredients. The products are non-GMO, certified organic, and ethically sourced. It also has some unique flavor offerings like lion's root (which has the adaptogen lion's mane mushroom), alpine lavender (with elderflower), and rowdy belly (which is inspired by an Ayurvedic recipe).
Köe's kombucha might be one of the only ones out there that doesn't need to be refrigerated since it comes in a can, but don't leave it in a hot space. The products are made with real fruit juice and purées and don't contain artificial ingredients or sweeteners. It's also certified USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.