About five years ago, my friend Nobuko offered me some homemade kombucha. “What is it?” I’d asked. While”tea” appealed to me, “fermented” did not, even if I do eat yogurt, leavened bread, and miso. I opted for plain water.
I forgot about kombucha until I began seeing bottled kombucha next to the Odwalla lineup. After tasting three brands, I found my favorite, GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha. (Based in Beverly Hills, CA, GT’s was picked up by Whole Foods way back in 1999, according to W magazine. Who knew?) At first glance, its attractive label and generous size caught my eye. Other perks:
Among the brands, it has the lowest sugar content (longtime readers might recall my shunning of sugar), as low as 4 grams per 480ml bottle. It has the best packaging (resealable cap). Most important, it has the crispest, freshest flavor. (Whether it tastes like homemade kombucha, I do not know.)
Now I buy a bottle of kombucha as a treat, while five years ago I was averse to a sip. Sometimes an “idea” needs time to take root. While I was hooked on asana from my first class, it took years for me actually to try it.
Five years before I took that first class, a friend had suggested that I visit the Yoga Room in Berkeley. “You’d really like it,” she predicted. Eventually an acquaintance touted the free morning classes at the UC Berkeley rec center. Again, it made little impression. I even briefly tried hapkido before trying yoga! (Martial arts still appeal to me but I found the falling and rolling to be hard on my body, and I felt silly yelling “ha!” every time I made a move.)
Once I tried yoga and kombucha, I loved them. Maybe the prior timing wasn’t right. I wasn’t ready, for whatever reason. And then I was.
Other commericial kombucha reviews:
Kombucha Wonder Drink (Portland, OR): Organic. Too high in sugar content (24 grams per 414ml bottle) due to added sugar cane juice. Unresealable cap. Company founded by the co-founder of Stash Tea and Tazo. Pasteurized (see here regarding the raw-versus-pasteurized debate).
Crudessence Kombucha (Montreal, QB): (Note: my opinion might be skewed because upon first sip I got a mouthful slimy kombucha strands, present in raw kombucha. Now I expect such strands, typically at the bottom.) Organic. Higher in sugar content than GT’s but lower than Wonder. Slightly vinegary taste, perhaps due to prolonged fermentation.
Your friend Nobuko has it right. Make your own Kombucha at home. It’s super easy and super cheap!
When you’re ready, here’s a free Kombucha recipe guide.
🙂 Welcome to Kombucha!
My husband LOVES Kombucha. He also has it as a “treat” and his favorite brand is the same as yours.
Interesting fact: this brand can not be sold in the U.S. because of its (minimal) amount of alcohol. The alcohol is due to the natural fermentation process and it is no more than a sip of beer. But still the FDA did not approve unless the company changes the label to include “alcohol” as one of the “ingredients” so to speak.
In NY last year, much to Mike’s dismay, all the “good Kombuchas” were removed from the stores. Only the sugary brands remained.
Oh well, now we can enjoy our Kombucha. Thanks Canada! : )
I’m just back from California and found GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha at a Santa Cruz institution, Staff of Life. I vaguely recall seeing a sign amid the unpasteurized kombucha requiring an age minimum to buy it, but I was too excited to see the range of brands and flavors (more than I see in Vancouver).
Santa Cruz was a forerunner in selling raw kombucha and it’s even sold “on tap.” No surprise, if you know this town!