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Why reading the label matters

The integrity of kombucha and why reading labels matters

Your favorite kombucha brands may be watered down.

Kombucha Brewers International released a Code of Practice. The code distinguishes between the following categories:
Traditional Kombucha Tea: This is a fermented tea, made with a scoby and sugar. The way I make my brew at home would be considered a Traditional Kombucha Tea.
Kombucha: Same as the Traditional listed above, but made with coffee, yerba mate, and other plants instead of straight fermented tea.
Jun Kombucha, Hard Kombucha, Herbal Kombucha: Jun kombucha is made with green tea and honey. Hard kombucha is kombucha with alcoholic content (follow me on social media to keep an eye on my attempts). Herbal kombucha can sometimes be made with other herbs instead of tea (i.e. dried hibiscus petals, chamomile, and lemon balm).
Processed Kombucha: Defined as a “type of kombucha to which a process has been applied to the product outside the traditional manufacturing process.” This includes de-alcoholization, pasteurization, filtration, etc… which may be necessary for commercial sale.
For more information, see this comprehensive article by Elaine Watson: “What is an ‘authentic’ kombucha? KBI publishes a long-awaited code of practice, proposes industry seal.” 

Why does it matter to hobby booch-brewers? 

I brew kombucha at home for many reasons, for example, it allows me to be in control of what I put in my body. Personal control.
To maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, I look for as little added sugars as possible. 
When I took a break from brewing booch this summer, was left kombucha-less for about two weeks until my continuous brew was back to normal production.
Left to buy kombucha at one of my local grocery stores to get my “fix,” I compared three of my favorite retail brews’ ingredients:
Three brands of kombucha

Brand one: Kevita, Ginger Turmeric 

First, I need to be honest: I really like to re-use Kevita bottles. They hold up well, seal tightly, and have a cute little heart on the bottom of each bottle ❤
I like ginger and turmeric for their health benefits and taste, and this concoction is a tasty and refreshing combination.
However, according to the new Code of Practice, brands like Kevita may not be approved as “authentic” kombucha. Take a look at the first ingredient: Sparkling Water. And added sugars? 15 grams, 30% of your daily suggested intake. 

Brand two: GT’s, Gingerade

My longtime-favorite retail brew is GT’s Gingerade. This brand holds true to its mission with a focus on clean and minimal ingredients. A closer look at the label shows zero added sugars and a short, pure ingredient list. 
When I buy retail, I definitely look at brands like GT’s who maintain the integrity of kombucha. As a homebrewer who is interested in the drink’s nutritional benefits, you should too. 

Brand three: Kevita, Blueberry Basil

I like retail flavors that mimic what I make at home. I always have frozen blueberries on hand for quick kombucha flavors. And June-September, I have fresh basil on hand, too.
It is fun to do an at-home taste test to see how you size up against the professionals.
Again, I encourage another look at the nutrition facts for Brand Three: Sparkling Water and Added Sugar.  While very tasty, this doesn’t align with the REAL REASON I started drinking kombucha in the first place. 

Choose For YOU!

Keep this information in your back pocket when you buy kombucha, and as you develop your inspired home-brewed flavors.
With the exception of hard kombucha, I do not advise adding extra sugar to your flavoring process. Don’t forget fruit is naturally sweet enough as is 🎀
 

More from The Booch Witch:

Best tea for kombucha

The Best Tea for Kombucha

Not all tea will work for a home-brew kombucha. Sticking to plain green and black teas is the way to go for home-brew kombucha.

Use what you have at home for kombucha

How to Flavor Kombucha

Selecting the best fruits, fruit mixtures, and flattering herbs and spices is a creative part of the home kombucha brewing process.

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