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Get Your Fermentation On with Hard Kombucha

can of June Shine beside sliced pineapple and fruits

Image via JuneShine.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the refrigerated beverage case at your local Whole Foods, neighborhood health food store, or corner bodega, you’ve probably noticed that kombucha is a beverage that’s trending. The category has grown steadily over the past several years, and there are now quite a few commercial brands selling the fermented drink in a range of flavors.

Kombucha’s origin story isn’t entirely known, but it’s believed the drink was first brewed in China before making its way to eastern Russia around 1900, and then into Europe and the United States. The most recent wave of fame began earlier this century, but it’s only in the past several years that commercial bottlings have become a common sight. Not that long ago, kombucha was associated with the bohemian set- the kind of thing you’d expect to see fermenting in jars in the kitchens of hipsters and crunchies. But it’s gone mainstream for a reason: it’s delicious.

So, what exactly is kombucha? It’s made by fermenting sweet tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (known as a SCOBY), and it has a tangy flavor that zings the taste buds and wakes up the palate. The flavor is often compared to that of lemonade or a zippier, fizzy version of tea. While most people reach for kombucha primarily because it’s tasty, the fermented tea also has a few known health benefits. It’s a good source of antioxidants, full of adaptogens, and great for digestion. The fermentation process naturally produces alcohol, and most commercially produced kombuchas are monitored to ensure the ABV is kept under .5% so customers won’t get an unexpected buzz. Recently, however, renegade brewers have started creating products that intentionally boost kombucha’s alcohol content.

If you’re looking for a better-for-you alcoholic beverage that’s packed full of flavor, listen up. We’ve compiled a list of the buzziest and best hard kombuchas on the market today!

JuneShine

One of the biggest players in the hard kombucha space is JuneShine, a company that has a wide range of flavors all wrapped up in fun, colorful packaging. JuneShine’s kombucha is made with organic ingredients like real fruit juice, jun kombucha, green tea, and organic spices, and it’s low sugar, gluten-free, and packed with gut-friendly probiotics. Flavors include Blood Orange Mint, Midnight Painkiller (made with activated charcoal), Hopical Citrus, Honey Ginger Lemon, Acai Berry, Iced Tea Lemonade, and Chili Mango.

JuneShine‘s hard kombucha is packaged in 12-ounce cans and contains 6% ALC/VOL. Subscription orders are available, and you can sample the full range of flavors by purchasing a sampler pack. The price point is $2.50 per can, but subscription buyers save 10%. Delivery is available to all U.S. states except Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Utah, Maine, Alabama, and New Jersey.

Kombrewcha

If you’re looking for hard kombucha that’s a little less hard, Kombrewcha is a lower ABV option. At 4.4%, Kombrewcha will hit you more like a can of beer than a glass of wine, which is great for times when you’re in the mood for a lighter beverage. Kombrewcha is made using USDA-certified organic ingredients and cane sugar, and the following flavors are available: Ginger Lemon, Lemongrass Lime, Mango Pineapple, Blood Orange, and Berry Hibiscus.

Local delivery is available in Manhattan, but you might also find Kombrewcha available in your local Total Wine & More or Whole Foods. A six-pack costs $13.99, and if you’re in the delivery zone you can set up subscription deliveries.

Flying Embers

If you get super excited about creative flavor combinations, check out Ventura, California’s Flying Embers. With a wide range of signature flavors, rotating special releases, and even additional products like hard seltzer and active ales, Flying Embers has an exciting selection that always feels fresh. On the menu, you’ll currently find Grapefruit, Black Cherry, Mango Coconut, Pineapple Chili, Guava Citra, Passionfruit Simcoe, Spicy Mango Mosaic, Ginger, Berry, and Lemon.

Pickup is available in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, those in New York can get delivery through TapRm, and shipping is available for residents of California, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Six-packs of Flying Embers cost $29.99; however, you can subscribe online to receive free shipping and 10% off.

And More…

Still thirsty for more? There are plenty more hard kombucha brands to explore, and new players are coming up with delicious flavors of “booch” all the time. Let’s take a quick look at some honorable mentions.

Boochcraft prides itself on doing things “the hard way.” Juices are cold-pressed in-house, no preservatives are used, and there are no added sugars. (Honey is omitted to ensure the products live up to vegan standards.) Look out for flavors like Apple Jasmine, Orange Pomegranate, Lemon Maple, and Strawberry Lemonade.

Brewed in Hood River, Oregon, KYLA Hard Kombucha is 100% vegan, gluten-free, and contains 3 grams or less of sugar per serving. From traditional hard kombucha offerings (like Ginger Tangerine and Pink Grapefruit) to higher-ABV fermented cocktails (like Bergamot Blood Orange Fizz and Shiso Mint Mojito), there are plenty of exciting products to explore.

If you like the sound of hard kombucha, but aren’t that into the “funk” that can sometimes accompany the flavor, Jiant may be the brew for you. The flavors are lighter than those found in your average kombucha, and Jiant takes pride in producing a beverage that’s smooth and easy to drink. Flavors include The Original (Passionfruit & Elderflower), Gingerly (Ginger & Lemongrass), and Hicamaya (Grapefruit & Hibiscus). Home Delivery is available in select markets via Drizly, Instacart, Whole Foods, Bevmo, and Total Wine.


Have you tried any of these hard kombucha subscriptions? Or do you have a favorite we didn’t mention? Head to the comments section and let us know!


 

Learn About Other (Non-Fermented) Tea Subscriptions

Want to find out about other Tea options? Check out these additional pages to learn more:


 

Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle.

Comments (7)

  1. I’ve had a couple of JuneShine flavors and really like the Honey Lemon Ginger. The Blood Orange Mint was pretty good, but definitely liked the other better. They had it at my local Natural Grocers.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, ducktorwho! (Um, great username, by the way.)

  2. I’d really like to see a review. Perhaps a comparison style review.

    • Thanks for the feedback, BB. It’s great to know that you’d like to see more. It’s a little frustrating because not many of these brands are shipping nationwide yet, but if/when they do I’d love to do a side-by-side comparison. There are so many enticing flavors, and I really want them to ship to me!

  3. Did you try any of these services? How was the packaging and shipping speed? Did you feel like it was a good value? Which one was your favorite; tastiest? Best Customer Service?

    • Agree would love to know how they tasted.

    • Hi Amanda P! My goal for this post was to give a quick overview of what hard kombucha is and to take a look at some of the options, but it’s good to know that you would have enjoyed seeing some additional info. The tricky thing with this one is that a lot of these companies don’t ship nationwide (or to me) yet. I can tell you that I’ve had and enjoyed JuneShine and Kombrewcha, and I am chomping at the bit to try KYLA’s fermented cocktails! If more options open up shipping to where I live, I would love to do a detailed comparison of the flavors/value/packaging/customer service. 🙂

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