Guide to Kombucha: Benefits, Brands, and How to Make It

Kevita, GT’s, Health-Ade… So many brands of kombucha to choose from. But what is kombucha anyway, and what are the health benefits? Learn about this magical drink and which brands are the most nutritious and delicious.

Kombucha is a hot trend these days, and with good reason – it is not only delicious, but also believed to promote good health.  In this page, we’ll go over some key information about kombucha and its health benefits, as well as review the best, most popular brands and flavors of kombucha.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a beverage made by fermenting bacteria and yeast with black or green tea and sugar.

It is enjoyed around the world for its health benefits and unique flavor. This video explains more:

 

What are the Health Benefits of Kombucha?

  • Kombucha is rich with probiotics that aid the digestive process.
  • It is rich with antioxidants.
  • Kombucha contains polyphenols and acetic acid, which help to prevent growth of undesirable bacteria.
  • It has been shown to improve cholesterol levels.

What Is a SCOBY?

SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It is sometimes referred to as a “mother”, “mother culture”, “kombucha culture”, “pellicle”, “pancake”, or “mushroom”.

It is a gelatinous mat of bacteria and yeast. It is a living body similar to corral reef in the ocean. This great video by YBK explains more:

How to Make a SCOBY

  1. Boil 1 gallon of water in a large clean pot.
  2. Once the water is to a boil, remove it from heat, and add / mix in 1 cup of sugar.
  3. Once the sugar is evenly mixed into the water, drop in the 8 bags of black or green tea, and let the tea steep into the hot water. You only need to steep the tea for 3 to 4 minutes (steeping for longer is OK, but the blend can become bitter if steeped too long).
  4. Then let the sugary tea cool until it reaches room temperature.
  5. Transfer 3 1/2 quarts of the tea mixture into an empty 1 gallon jar
  6. Add 2 cups of unflavored and unpasteurized kombucha (can be store-bought or from another batch).
  7. Place the woven cloth or two layers of paper towel over the jar, and secure it using a rubber band.
  8. Set the jar somewhere out of direct sunlight and let it sit for 2-4 weeks.
  9. Wait for a 1/4 inch gelatinous disc to form near the top of the jar.
  10. Inspect the new SCOBY. Make sure the jar doesn’t smell rancid or off-putting. If it does, restart the process.

Popular Kombucha Brands

GT’s Living Foods

GT’s makes a variety of “living beverages”, including its organic and raw kombucha, ALIVE adaptogenic tea, AQUA KEFIR water kefir, COCOYO non-dairy coconut yogurt, and COCOKEFIR and VEGGIEKAEIR probiotic shots. But they are on this list for their kombucha, which seriously rocks!

Their kombucha comes in several varieties:

  • Enlightened Kombucha: This is brewed with living cultures, yielding a light and smooth tasting probiotic powerhouse.
  • Enlightened Synergy: This is brewed with living cultures and contains fresh pressed organic juice or fruit puree, making it the smoothest of their offerings
  • Classic Kombucha: This combines their Organic & Raw Kombucha with complex blends of vegetable juices, spices, herbs, and botanics. It is brewed with heirloom cultures, to bring the same signature, small batch taste that GT’s first introduced in 1995. This is for kombucha drinkers 21 and older because the fermentation gives this an alcohol content above 0.5%.
  • Classic Synergy: This combines their Organic & Raw Kombucha with fresh pressed organic juice or fruit puree, creating a blend for kombucha drinkers 21 and older because the fermentation gives this an alcohol content above 0.5%.

Best GT’s Kombucha Flavors

RankFlavor
#1Gingerade
#2Trilogy
#3Grape
#4Lavender Love
#5Pomegranate Power
#6Watermelon Wonder
#7Ginger Berry
#8Passionberry Bliss

Kevita

Kevita Kombucha is friggin delightful. While it is a kombucha brand, their flavors are not as pungent as other kombucha on the market. The bottles typically contain no SCOBY (sometimes called the “mother”, it’s that weird floaty bacteria culture in most kombucha) and have a flavor that resembles a flavored sparkling water, more than a probiotic beverage.

We’re big fans of the stuff, so we made ranked list of their best flavors. Hope you enjoy! Here are our other favorites from Kevita:

Best Kevita Kombucha Flavors

RankFlavor
#1Pineapple Peach
#2Tart Cherry
#3Pomegranate
#4Ginger

Health-Ade

Health-Ade is a very popular brand of kombucha that is brewed in Los Angeles, California. The company boasts that their brewing process is “All Glass”, meaning they don’t use any metal or plastic containers to prevent leaching of the materials into the brew. Health-Ade also brews in 2.5 gallon batches, which is a small brew, and yields quality results for every serving. They also use high quality ingredients and cold-pressed juices from organic produce. Here are our favorite flavors of Health-Ade

Best Flavors of Health-Ade

RankFlavor
#1Bubbly Rose
#2Pomegranate
#3Grape Vibes
#4Cherry-Berry

Humm

Founded in Bend, Oregon, Humm is brand built on inclusion and communication with a a vision of peace, mutual respect, and equality. Humm is available in all 50 states, as well as Sweden and Guam. Here are our favorite flavors:

Best Flavors of Humm

RankFlavor
#1Blackberry
#2Pineapple Tumeric
#3Hopped Grapefruit
#4Pomegranate Lemonade
#5Lemon Ginger
#6Strawberry Lemonade
#7Mango Passionfruit
#8Coconut Lime
#9Raspberry Hops
#10Ginger Juniper

How to Make Kombucha

Before getting started, you’ll need several ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 8 bags of black or green tea
  • 2 cups of starter kombucha tea (unpasteurized / neutral flavor; from a previous or store-bought batch of kombucha)
  • 1 SCOBY or the ingredients to make one:
    • 1 gallon of water
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 8 bags of black or green tea
    • 2 cups of starter kombucha tea

Equipment

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 gallon jar
  • Tightly woven cloth (or paper towels)
  • Rubber bands
  • 1 small funnel
  • 6 16-oz glass bottles

If you need to acquire any or all of these things, check out this awesome Get Kombucha Starter Kit:

 

Directions

1. Make the SCOBY

The SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is the key to the entire kombucha-making process. It it where the probiotics and many of health benefits stem from. Before diving into how we’ll make it, let’s learn a bit more about the SCOBY.

2. Make the tea base

Boil a gallon of water in a large clean pot. Once the water is to a boil, remove it from heat, and add / mix in 1 cup of sugar. Once the sugar is evenly mixed into the water, drop in the 8 bags of black tea, and let the tea steep into the hot water. You only need to steep the tea for 3 to 4 minutes (steeping for longer is OK, but the blend can become bitter if steeped too long). Then let the sugary tea cool until it reaches room temperature.

3. Add the starter kombucha

Add 2 cups of unflavored and unpasteurized kombucha, which can be store-bought or from a previous batch of kombucha.

4. Add the SCOBY

Gently place the SCOBY into the jar with the tea mixture, and cover it with the tightly woven cloth or 2 layers of paper towel, secured with a rubber band.

5. Ferment for 7-10 days

Let the mixture sit, out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days. After 7 days, you can begin to taste the kombucha every day. When it reaches a flavorful balance of sweet and tart, the batch is ready.

6. Remove the SCOBY

At this point, you’ll want to remove the SCOBY from the jar. If you’d like to make another batch, you can re-use this SCOBY in this same process.

7. Transfer to Bottles

Using the small funnel, transfer the liquid into the glass bottles, and seal them shut. It may be easiest to use a ladle or small cup to move the liquid from the large jar into the funnel.

8. Store at room temperature for 1-3 days

This is where the kombucha will carbonate. Keep the bottles out of direct sunlight for 1-3 days as the drink begins to carbonate. It might be helpful to put some of the new kombucha into a plastic bottle before this step. This will allow you gauge how long the drink takes to carbonate by feeling the firmness of the bottle–once the plastic bottle becomes very firm, the drink is sufficiently carbonated.

9. Refrigerate

Refrigerating the kombucha will stop it from carbonating further. And once it’s cold, it’s ready for you to drink!


If you found this information helpful, you may also enjoy our healthy smoothie recipe list, our list of healthy snacks you can buy from convenience stores, or this list of Gold Standard Whey Protein flavors.

Reference

YBK (You Brew Kombucha)

Wikipedia

Kevita

GT’s Living Foods

Health-Ade

Humm

Holy Kombucha

Brew Dr.

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