Although kombucha has been trendy for years, I had yet to try it until a few weeks ago. I was rather skeptical (as many have been) of the supposed health benefits, and at $3-$4 a bottle, it's not inexpensive. When I learned that Reed's (purveyor of one of my favorite ginger ales) had inaugurated its own "Culture Club" and was now offering a whole line of flavored kombuchas, I was slightly more amenable to at least sampling a bottle.
Actually, I sampled many bottles, buoyed by my surprise love of the first flavor I tried, Goji Ginger. Now I understand why people get hooked on the stuff.
First, I should say kombucha has a unique, if not acquired, taste because of the fermentation. Because I am a fan of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar drinks, which have a similar acidic flavor, I was probably predisposed to like kombucha at first sip. Others may require multiple swigs to find it (eventually) appetizing.
What is interesting and rather appealing to me about Reed's kombucha is that it's not a beverage you want to guzzle. Now, obviously, other drinks (e.g., strong cocktails) also fall into this category, but there's something about the carbonation (small, frequent bubbles) and the layered flavors that makes the kombucha-imbibing experience feel medicinal. Soothing, definitely; sacred, almost.
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And, indeed, despite the lack of consensus among doctors and scientists as to whether kombucha has significant positive effects on physical health, I will say from my personal -- albeit limited -- experience that this drink is FREAKIN' WONDERFUL if you've 1) had one too many drinks, 2) eaten too much greasy food or 3) both of the above.
In other words, it's the perfect late Saturday night/early Sunday morning beverage.
I liked all the flavors I tried in the Reed's kombucha line. Most involve ginger, which I'm admittedly partial to, and all are light on the sweetness, which means a 13-ounce bottle will set you back only 75 calories or so. My favorite varieties were the punchy pomegranate ginger and the tart hibiscus grapefruit. The only loser of the bunch was the coconut water lime, which lacked any discernible citrus flavor.
Reed's kombucha could potentially be a once-every-other-day ritual for me, especially since it's easy to be satisfied with meting out one bottle in two servings. To be honest, I probably spend as much weekly on varieties of juice, iced tea and sparkling water, most of which are more expensive than they are healthful. Furthermore, if the kombucha market continues to be competitive, maybe Reed's will begin offering discounted six-packs.