Kombucha: The Outer Limits

As the kombucha category continues to expand worldwide, there are several “interesting” variations on the gold standard of authentic, unpasteurized, raw kombucha coming onto the market. In the absence of a Standard of Identity for the drink, vendors are free to sell a variety of products labeled “Kombucha.”

Of course, hijacking (or absorbing) popular beverages into other products is nothing new. Take a look at how one of Ireland’s most storied drinks has been repurposed.

Varieties of orange juice

In a presentation to the 2019 KombuchaKon, industry pioneer GT Dave listed the types of orange juice available. He commented that consumers have a range of choices when it comes to something as simple as a glass of OJ, and most know they get what they pay for. The more authentic, the higher the price.

Source: GT Dave, 2019 KombuchaKon Presentation

And that’s not even counting the various ‘orange-ish’ powders and liquids that are on the shelves.

So what’s out there that’s piggy-backing on the trend, trying to seduce the unwary consumer who might have heard of kombucha and have positive associations that transfer to something that is, shall we say, less than authentic?

Check out the list below and prepare to be amazed, as we explore The Outer Limits of what’s being labeled “Kombucha.”

Kombucha cosmetics

T’else Kombucha Essence is “infused with 74% Kombucha Extract which is a lightweight, yet effective anti-oxidant. This Essence, is especially formulated with probiotics for the calming relief of sensitive skin. It can also soothe blemish prone skin and as an added plus, brighten and help reduce puffiness. And, to aid in replenishing moisture, it contains triple Hyaluronic Acids.”

At $27 for a 150 mL bottle, we thought this might be the most expensive ‘booch anywhere. But that’s before we saw Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner by Youth to the People. At $38 for a 4oz bottle, it’s a tad pricier.

This triple-action power toner blends 8% lactic acid and 3% glycolic acid to smooth skin texture and minimize the appearance of pores. The two ferments, kombucha black tea, and tree bark work as prebiotics to enhance the skin’s natural microbiome.

The ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau (Aqua), L-Arginine, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Water, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Water, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Pichia Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Caramel.

If you’re after a bargain, then try the Rose Kombucha Flower Powered Face Wash from Pacifica Beauty. It promises to let you “disobey time with the power of flowers and fermented tea.” A steal at $10 for 5oz.

The ingredients: aqua, sodium cocoyl isethionate, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, cocamidopropyl oxide, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar) gum, glycol distearate, myristic acid, argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, saccharomyces/xylinum/black tea ferment, rosa canina flower extract, cocos nucifera (coconut) water, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed quinoa protein, hydrolyzed rice protein, carica papaya (papaya) extract, sodium hyaluronate, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, citric acid, parfum (natural).

Rather than pay top dollar for commercial kombucha skincare products, Hannah Crum’s Kombucha Kamp has suggestions for ways to make your own at home and have a Kombucha Spa Day with family, friends, or just to spoil yourself!

Kombucha tablets

Advertised with a nod and wink to the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests of the psychedelic 1960s, these kombucha tablets dissolve (like Alka-Seltzer) in plain water and, hey presto, turn into “kombucha.” After all, says Qula, why wait for anything as time-consuming as fermentation when you can “transform water into kombucha” by “dropping a tab” that lets you “explore the universe.” They give you “The Freedom to have Kombucha Anytime, Anyplace. The Freedom to Make MAGIC with your WATER.”

⚡️QULA KOMBUCHA TABS (Kool-Ah)⚡️PREMIUM BOOCH – NO BOTTLE⚡️Loaded w Probiotics⚡️Gr8 4 your Body & the Planet⚡️Ridiculously Delicious⚡️DROP A TAB⚡️

It is, undoubtedly, “A Whole New Kombucha Experience.”

SodaStream Kombucha Syrup

SodaStream, the venerable company founded in England back in 1903, offers another variation of the “turning water into ‘booch” theme. Where they once produced classic British soda flavors like Tizer (yum! my favorite!) and Irn-Bru, they’ve caught up with the times. They are offering new Kombucha Original and Kombucha Passion Fruit & Mandarin flavors. These are available in twin packs from SodaStream.co.uk for £15.98. It’s nothing less than “the world’s first certified organic Kombucha concentrate.” (Not to be confused with the organic starter liquid concentrate most kombucha brewers use to kick-start fermentation.)

Tiago Alves, Managing Director of SodaStream UK, says:

With many people looking for a natural health kick right now, adding a dash of Kombucha to sparkling water is a great way for consumers to enjoy a refreshing and healthy drink. We’re incredibly excited to announce this partnership with Soda Press Co. and the launch of its new organic Kombucha syrups crafted specially for SodaStream.

Yogi Green Tea Kombucha

Yogi tea claims their Green Tea Kombucha blend “combines Green Tea with Kombucha to supply antioxidants.”

Kombucha comes from north central Asia. It is a strain of one bacterium and three or four different yeasts. When grown (sic) properly, the culture produces glucuronic acid, acetic acid, and many vitamins and amino acids that can help support the immune system. It is valued by herbalists for its ability to support intestinal function, supply nutrients to promote balanced intestinal flora and its ability to help circulate the energy in the body. It can be detoxifying to the entire body and can help to support elimination and support metabolic harmony.

Frugo Blueberry & Kombucha Fruit Drink

Polish beverage company FoodCare sells a range of sports and energy drinks. Their Blueberry & Kombucha drink is available in the UK at £1.50 a bottle from Tesco. The list of ingredients includes “0.04% of fermented tea concentrate comprising water, sugar, glucose, tea, and kombucha cultures”. Wow! No danger of OD’ing on ‘booch if you drink Frugo, then. Together with the FCF brilliant blue dye, this gives their kombucha drink a truly special place in our list of kombucha-esque beverages.

Ingredients: Pasteurized. Made from concentrated juice (juice content min. 20%). Ingredients: Water, apple juice from concentrated apple juice (14.7%), sugar, juice from concentrated fruit juices: lemon (5%), blackcurrant (0.1%), blueberry (0.1%), raspberry (0.1%), fermented tea concentrate (water, sugar, glucose, tea, kombucha cultures) (0.04%), aroma, stabilizers: acacia, glycerol and plant resin esters, pectin, dye: FCF brilliant blue.

Authenticity

As kombucha sales increase worldwide, companies that actually do produce authentic kombucha need to work together to protect the integrity of the product and remind consumers that, as with orange juice, you get what you pay for.

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2 Responses

  1. the_editor says:

    Adding to this list: Ittella Raspberry Kombucha Bowl for $17.09 from Costco

    Ittella Raspberry Kombucha Bowl

  2. the_editor says:

    Some claim kombucha will track the same path of acceptance as yogurt has over the past few decades. Yogurt was once a weird, sour, Eastern European thing that hippies made in their kitchens. Now countless varieties and flavors fill the refrigerated sections of the supermarket.

    No need to ask where the idea for this new product from Brownes Dairy came from. “Raspberry Lime are kindred Kombucha flavour spirits that burst with freshness and tang” that can “make a body roar.” A steal at $2.70 for 160g (of which 17g are sugar).

    Roar & Tonic Kombucha Yogurt

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