Keepin' It Local (and Low-Cal) With Kickin' Kombucha, a Great Alternative to Reed's

When I wrote about Reed's Kombucha recently, a few readers were a bit peeved that I chose to review a non-local kombucha. They protested that I should have paid attention to a local brand.

Just an FYI to my detractors: I had never before tried kombucha and was not purposely privileging a "foreign" purveyor over a local one, but rather losing my kombucha virginity somewhat randomly after running into Reed's, which looked pretty good.

But more important, I should thank my readers for alerting me to the existence of Kickin' Kombucha. Although I have seen brands other than Reed's (e.g. GT's) during my grocery shopping, I actually had not recently spotted Kickin's varieties (Kroger and H-E-B need to diversify their selection!).

Using Kickin' Kombucha's handy online product locator, I learned that their libations were sold at my local Whole Foods. Late last week I picked up a bottle of "The Grape Divide," not, I might add, a particularly easy errand. (Have you ever tried to park in that lot around 5 p.m. on a Thursday? It's like a Raiders' tailgate party.)

(First, Kickin' Kombucha gets points for NOT naming this flavor "Grape Expectations," because if I encounter another lame-ass food pun based on the work of my favorite author, the shit will go down.)

Anyway, at $4, Kickin' Kombucha is slightly more expensive than Reed's, but for that price you get 16 ounces, compared to 13 ounces of the latter. "The Grape Divide," along with most other Kickin' Kombucha varieties, is also lower in calories, with 40 calories per 8 ounces (Reed's has 70 calories per 8 ounces). This difference is unsurprisingly reflected in the taste, which is tangier and less sweet than the flavors of Reed's I tried.

But which is better, you demand? Neither, as for me it's tantamount to comparing apples to oranges, or in this case grapes to hibiscus grapefruits. I very much liked the straightforward herbal, grape-vinegar flavor of Kickin' Kombucha and could easily imagine drinking half a bottle or so in the morning for a nice pick-me-up that won't spike my blood sugar. Reed's, however, would be my preference after a long night of imbibing other, less healthful beverages, or as a mocktail accompaniment to a supper at dusk. Either way, both brands would be a pleasurable sipping experience.

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