Love it, Like it, Hate it: Kombucha!

Curious about kombucha, if you’ve been hearing about or seeing it in stores?  It’s a fermented tea drink that’s been around for ages, but has only recently become popular in the U.S.  Kombucha is rich in probiotics and has a host of potential health benefits, but ingredients and sugar content can vary widely, so today we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on her top picks – and least favorite options – of kombucha in stores.

What it is:  Kombucha is made by fermenting yeasts and bacteria with sweetened tea, resulting in a slightly carbonated probiotic-rich beverage.

Why it’s good for you: 

  • Can help promote overall health due to its detoxification, antioxidant, and energizing properties.
  • It also has antimicrobial activity, and may enhance sleep and pain tolerance.
  • For maximum probiotic benefits, look for kombucha that hasn't been pasteurized.

 

Sugar in Kombucha:

  • Sugar is an integral part of the fermentation process, so all brands start with a base of sweetened tea.
  • The sugar content of finished product varies depending on how long kombucha is allowed to ferment.
  • Longer fermentation means more sugar is consumed by the beneficial yeasts and bacteria, and minimal sugar remains in the finished product. Brands with highest sugar listed on label either don’t allow it ferment as long, or have added sugars or sugary juices on the back-end, after fermentation.

 

Note:  Check with physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; kombucha can contain trace amounts of alcohol.

 

LOVE IT!

 

Big Easy Bucha Kombucha  (LOCAL)

  • Per 16-ounce bottle: 80 calories, 20 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Cajun Kick): Water, black & green tea, evaporated cane juice, fresh pressed ginger juice, tangerine juice, lemon juice, hibiscus, cayenne pepper, kombucha culture
  • Available at many local stores including Rouses, PJ’s & Whole Foods Markets

Health-ade Kombucha

  • Per 16-ounce bottle: 70 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Ginger-Lemon): Water, kombucha culture (yeast and bacteria cultures), organic black & green teas, organic evaporated cane juice, cold-pressed organic ginger juice, cold-pressed organic lemon juice

 

GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha

  • Per 16-ounce bottle: 60 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Gingerade): Organic kombucha and fresh pressed ginger juice

Clearly Kombucha

  • Per 14-ounce bottle: 30 calories, 6 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Asian Pear): Organic 100% Raw Kombucha and Natural Flavors.
  • Half the calories & sugar of most kombucha. Per their website, Clearly Kombucha monitors sugar content throughout fermentation and only bottles when residual sugars meet their specifications.
  • Available locally at Fresh Market

 

LIKE IT!

TheBu Kombucha

  • Per 14-ounce bottle: 50 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Lavender): Water, organic kombucha culture, green tea, cane sugar, probiotic

 

Brew Dr. Kombucha by Townshend’s Tea Company

  • Per 14-ounce bottle: 60 calories, 18 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams sugar
  • Ingredients: water, green tea, organic cane sugar, rosemary, peppermint, sage, dandelion root

 

Live Kombucha Soda

  • Per 12-ounce bottle: 60 calories, 13 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams sugar
  • Ingredients ( ): Raw kombucha (organic tea, sugar, and kombucha culture) and stevia extract

 

 

HATE IT!

Buddha’s Brew Kombucha

Note: this is still a great probiotic-rich product, just much higher in sugar than the “Love it” and “Like it” picks

  • Per 16-ounce bottle: 110 calories, 28 grams carbohydrate, 28 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Tart Cherry Melon): Organic kombucha (water, kombucha culture, organic tea and evaporated cane sugar), 9% organic honeydew juice and tart cherry juice

Kombucha Wonder Drink

  • Per 8.4-ounce can: 60 calories, 16 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams sugar
  • Ingredients (Green Tea and Lemon): Water, organic brewed green tea, organic kombucha (water, cane juice, oolong tea leaves, yeast and bacteria cultures), cane juice, lemon extract, carbon dioxide.
  • Ounce-for-ounce, about 2x more calories & sugar than “Love it” and “Like it” kombucha brands
  • Clearer in color than other brands of kombucha; appears to contain no strands of kombucha culture

 

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Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD