It does take time, however, and you have to be careful to properly sterilize all of your tools to avoid making yourself sick. For those looking for a more convenient option, there are now many varieties of kombucha that are sold commercially, which means they are as close as your nearby health food store.
As with anything you buy, however, you have to be careful. Some manufacturers are careful to include only nourishing ingredients in their kombucha, but others may include things like artificial flavors and extra sugar that you’d rather avoid.
Find out how to choose your best store-bought kombucha below, along with some recommendations on the best places to shop.
How to Choose the Best Kombucha at the Store
As you peruse the available options, keep the following points in mind.
1. The Container
What kind of container is the tea in? If it’s in a plastic bottle, pass it by. Kombucha is an acidic beverage, which means that it may degrade the plastic, causing potentially toxic chemicals to mix in with the tea before you drink it. Choose glass bottles instead. They are always safer.
Next, examine the color of the bottle. Is it light or dark? Dark bottles offer more protection for the tea and the fragile nutrients inside it, including healthy probiotics. In general, the darker the bottle, the better.
2. The Location
When searching for kombucha in the store, look in the refrigerated section first. As a living food, real kombucha is not shelf-stable, which means it needs to be kept cold to avoid contamination. If you see tea that is on the shelf, it is not real kombucha tea, or it is unsafe. Avoid it.
Flavored kombucha tea is very popular these days, and it can be fun to try various types. But be sure to turn the bottle over and read the ingredient list. If the flavors come from real fruit, spices, or herbs, you’re good to go. If you see the words “artificial flavors,” though, keep looking. You don’t need flavoring chemicals interfering with your kombucha.
4. Sugar Content
Kombucha naturally has some sugar, but the levels are low. Check the nutrition facts and the ingredient list, as they will tell you more about how much sugar is in your tea. Look for no more than 10 grams per serving. Higher levels will contribute more calories to the drink, which you may not want if you’re watching your weight.
Another way to zero in on sugar content is to check for the phrase, “0% juice.” Though fruit juices are sometimes added to kombucha, they can significantly increase the sugar content.
5. Ingredient List
In addition to checking for added sugars and juice, you also want to examine the ingredient list to be sure the tea is “real” kombucha. There are some fake ones out there that are sugary juices disguised as kombucha.
Here are some clues to look for:
- Green or black tea should appear early in the ingredient list. Avoid products that include tea “flavors,” extracts, or essences.
- Kombucha—if you see this listed in the ingredient list, it means most of the beverage is not kombucha and that only a little was added to call it that.
- Additives—some brands add powdered probiotic supplements to the tea so they can claim on the label that it is high in probiotics. This isn’t “bad” per se, but it does mean that the tea is not as natural as it might be if it contained no additives. Other additives to watch for include flavorings and dyes.
Remember that the basic ingredients in kombucha are tea, water, and sugar.
6. Expiration Date
Always check this before you buy. Kombucha lasts only a short while. The best kombucha teas have a short window to reflect the fact that they are raw, not pasteurized, filtered, or processed. Products with longer shelf-lives have gone through additional processing, which can kill some of the beneficial bacteria.
What Stores Sell Kombucha?
Fortunately, due to the rising popularity of kombucha, many major grocery chains now sell it. As for where in the store you can find it, look in the produce section first. Many stores will place it near the cold smoothies, teas, and other health drinks, rather than in the seltzer and soda drink aisle. You may also find it near the cold salad dressings and pre-made salads.
If the store has an organic or health food section, you may have the best luck going there first. Look in the cold section of the organic, vegan, and gluten-free area to see if you can find it.
At your local Incredible Edibles store, we proudly offer a kombucha bar as well!