Kombucha: The Best and Worst Brands

The kombucha craze is sweeping across the world and new brands are popping up left and right.

It’s comparable to what has happened with the craft beer industry. More and more people are taking their stab at brewing kombucha and starting their own brands with unique flavors and formulations.

But, how do you choose the healthiest brand?

This article will tell you what to look for and compares 22 popular brands.

What is Kombucha?

In case you’re new to the drink or have tried it but are unsure of what it is exactly, kombucha is simply a fermented tea beverage.

Water, tea leaves, sugar, and a substance called SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) are what’s needed to make kombucha. The final product has a tea and slightly vinegary flavor that is also a tad fizzy.

Some brands try to minimize the vinegar flavor by adding sweetness and other ingredients like fruit juices and flavorings. Other brands don’t mask it with a lot of sugar and prefer to keep their kombucha more natural.

Number One Benefit: Probiotics

What makes kombucha so good for you is the probiotic benefit it provides. When you drink kombucha, you are consuming billions of healthy gut microbes that help your digestive system keep working as it should.1

I’ve read all kinds of health claims on the websites of kombucha brands and some are a bit of a stretch. But, modern research has shown us time and time again that good microbes are responsible for so many aspects of our good health.2

When comparing kombucha brands this is our number one consideration. Some brands are pasteurized which kills the live cultures (which defeats the purpose of drinking kombucha for better health). Brands do this to stop alcohol formation which I’ll cover at the end of the article.

If you see “pasteurized” on a kombucha label, pick a different brand.

Here’s How Some Popular Brands Compare

For comparison sake, I’ve looked at just one flavor from each brand and tried to choose “original”, when possible. Other flavors may have slightly more or less calories, sugar, and caffeine.

Kevita Master Brew Kombucha

kevita masterbrew

Note: Kevita is currently being sued for false advertisement. Although they advertise live cultures, it has come to light that Kevita actually uses a pasteurization technique to keep their kombucha from further fermenting on the store shelves. It is unclear what their unique method does to the active cultures but traditionally pasteurization kills many of the beneficial probiotic organisms in kombucha.

  • 4 billion CFU’s of live probiotics
  • 70 calories per bottle
  • 8 grams of sugar
  • 80 mg of caffeine
  • Sweetness enhanced with stevia
  • 100% organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Verdict: This is a solid brand health-wise but may have too much caffeine for some. They increase the natural caffeine with green coffee bean extract. They also make a line of probiotic soda’s but these aren’t classified as kombucha.

Available at Amazon
Learn more

Humm Original Kombucha

humm

  • Number of live cultures unknown
  • 53 calories per bottle
  • 7 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

Verdict: This brand ranges in sweetness depending on the flavor and other flavors contain more sugar. Humm is an all natural brand and uses organic ingredients but isn’t certified organic.

Learn more here.

GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha

gt kombucha

  • 2 billion live cultures per bottle
  • 60 calories per bottle
  • 4 grams of sugar
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: GT is a brand that will appeal to those that like a less sweetened kombucha. They offer many flavors and in GT’s case, the flavor doesn’t increase the sugar or calories as much as it tends to do in other brands.

Buy here.

Kombucha Wonder Drink Traditional

wonder drink

  • 0 live cultures per bottle
  • 100 calories per bottle
  • 24 grams of sugar
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: This brand is high in sugar and isn’t real kombucha. It is pasteurized to kill the active cultures and offers no probiotic benefit. They do offer a raw product so we suggest choosing this version if you decide to try this brand. This version is called Wonder Drink Raw and it’s lower in sugar and does contain active cultures. All other Wonder Drink products are simply “kombucha flavored” beverages.

Buy here.

B-tea Kombucha

B tea brand

  • Live cultures present but amount unknown
  • 54 calories per bottle
  • 4 grams of sugar
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: B-tea Kombucha is a raw kombucha tea and is low in sugar. It does contain live cultures but is unclear how many.

Available on Amazon here.

Tealixer Herbal Kombucha

tealixer

  • Live cultures present but amount unknown
  • 60 calories per can
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Not certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Tealixer is a brand available exclusively on Amazon and contains various herbs in addition to the tea, SCOBY, and flavors. Some consumers may need to be cautious of the herbs used in Tealixer. For example, St. John’s Wort can interact with some medications.

Buy here.

Brew Dr. Kombucha

dr brew

  • Billions of live cultures per bottle
  • 60 calories per bottle
  • 10 grams of sugar
  • 15 mg of caffeine per bottle
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Dr. Brew is a 100% raw kombucha with simple ingredients and herbal flavorings. While they offer no straight up tea flavor, the varieties they do offer are certainly interesting.

Learn more here.

Health-Ade Kombucha

health ade Kom

  • Contains live cultures but amount unknown
  • 60 calories per bottle
  • 4 grams of sugar
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Health-ade is another 100% raw kombucha with active cultures. It is low in sugar and other varieties contain real fruit juice.

Learn more here.

Live Kombucha Soda

live soda

  • 6.8 billion cultures per bottle
  • 60 calories per bottle
  • 13.5 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Live is another 100% raw kombucha and lists a very high number of active cultures. It is sweeter than many other brands and its sweetness is enhanced with stevia.

Learn more here.

Reed’s Culture Club Kombucha

reed's kombucha

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 80 calories per bottle
  • 17.6 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Reed’s line of kombucha beverages are 100% raw but do seem to contain more sugar than many of the others. They also use yerba mate tea as well as oolong tea in the brewing process. Yerba mate typically has higher caffeine than traditional tea so expect the caffeine in Reed’s to be higher than what would be expected in traditional black or green tea based kombucha.

Buy here.

High Country Kombucha

high country kombucha

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 30 calories per bottle
  • 4 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: High Country is 100% raw and is very low in sugar. It may not appeal to those that like a sweeter flavor, but this is a great choice for those that want a very low sugar choice.

Learn more here.

Bucha

bucha

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 96 calories per bottle
  • 24 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Bucha is raw kombucha but is one of the highest in sugar of the brands I’ve listed here. There is also an error with their calorie and sugar information 24 grams of sugar is 96 calories, not 94 as the label would suggest.

Learn more here.

Tonica

tonica

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 43 calories per bottle
  • 6 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Tonica is a Canadian brand of 100% raw kombucha. It is low in sugar and is blended with both fruit and herbal flavors.

Learn more here.

Rise Kombucha

rise

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 62 calories per bottle
  • 14 grams of sugar per bottle
  • 2-8mg of caffeine per bottle
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Rise is another Canadian brand and is 100% raw kombucha. It’s a tad higher in sugar than others and they don’t offer just a traditional tea flavored variety. This brand can contain visible pieces of SCOBY.

Learn more here.

Katalyst Kombucha

katalyst

  • Live cultures but amount unknown
  • 68 calories per bottle
  • 12 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Not certified organic but uses organic ingredients
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Katalyst is 100% raw kombucha and all natural. Some flavors have a tad less sugar.

Learn more here.

O Organics Kombucha

o prganics

  • 2 billion+ live cultures per bottle
  • 100 calories per bottle
  • 22 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: O Organics Kombucha is a “store” brand of Kombucha found at Safeway and Albertsons affiliated grocery stores. It’s more affordable than other brands but is higher in sugar because of all the fruit juice concentrates used.

Learn more here.

Holy Kombucha

holy kombucha

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 60 calories per bottle
  • 12 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Not certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Holy Kombucha is a 100% raw product with medium levels of sugar.

Learn more here.

Ucha Kombucha

ucha

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 25 calories per bottle
  • 5 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Ucha is a 100% raw brand of fermented tea available in Europe. It’s low in sugar and comes in several flavors as well as a yerba mate variety.

Learn more here.

BluePrint Kombucha

blueprint kombucha

  • Unclear if live cultures are present
  • 70-90 calories per bottle
  • 19-24 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: BluePrint is known for their cold pressed juice line and these are used in their kombucha also. Therefore, they are higher in sugar than other brands. It’s unclear whether the product is raw kombucha.

Learn more here.

Kosmic Kombucha

kosmic kombucha

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 80 calories per bottle
  • 14 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Kosmic is 100% raw kombucha and falls in the medium category as far as sugar content is concerned.

Learn more here.

Kombucha Dog

kombucha dog

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • Calories per bottle not listed
  • 9 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine per bottle unknown
  • No certified organic but organic ingredients used
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Kombucha Dog is a 100% raw kombucha that is not diluted so it contains 1.5% alcohol and is therefore classified as an alcoholic beverage. Alcoholic beverages are not required to post nutrition information on their labels. This brand is for adults over 21 years of age.

Learn more here.

Unity Vibration

unity vibration

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 105 calories per bottle
  • 27 grams of sugar per bottle
  • 86+ mg of caffeine per bottle in the cold-brew coffee flavor
  • Not certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Unity Vibration is a 100% raw kombucha that is classified as an alcoholic beverage because it contains more alcohol than the .5% limit. It’s one of the highest in sugar and only for those at least 21 years of age.

Learn more here.

Oregonic Tonic

oregonic tonic

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 40 calories per bottle
  • 10 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unkown
  • Made with mostly organic ingredients
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Oregonic Tonic is a 100% raw craft kombucha. It can be slightly different batch to batch and is more tangy than the more mainstream brands. It will appeal to those that like a strong kombucha with a lot of flavor but very little sugar. It’s availabale in Portland, Oregon and at select locations throughout Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.

Learn more here.

Simple Truth Organic Kombucha

simple truth

  • Live cultures per bottle but amount unknown
  • 70 calories per bottle
  • 16 grams of sugar per bottle
  • Caffeine amount unkown
  • Certified organic
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Verdict: Simple Truth Kombucha is a 100% raw and is a Kroger affiliated grocery store brand. It’s a bit more affordable than other brands and is a strong kombucha. This means it has more of the tangy kombucha flavor than more mainstream brands like Humm or Kevita. It’s availabale throughout the US in Kroger owned grocery stores.

Learn more here.

Alcohol Content?

All 100% raw kombucha or fermented tea products will contain alcohol. Most are under .5% to avoid being classified as an alcoholic beverage. There has been some government scrutiny in certain States because, although they leave the factory at under.5% alcohol, under the right conditions fermented tea products can continue to ferment and produce more alcohol.

The only brands that would just contain zero or trace amounts of alcohol are the pasteurized ones and these aren’t true kombucha and offer little, if any, health benefits.
simple truth

Caffeine Levels

Because most kombucha is made with traditional tea leaves, it will contain some caffeine. More if you make it yourself, less if it’s store bought. Generally, the caffeine is 15 mg or less per bottle since most are diluted to meet the below 5% alcohol standard. Brands that add coffee flavor or yerba mate will have more caffeine.

Make Your Own?

Brewing kombucha isn’t rocket science and you can pretty easily make your own.

Amazon.com sells kits with everything you need and once you have SCOBY, you can keep using it over and over again.

This allows you to experiment with different flavors and ingredients and will save you a lot of money. However, with fermentation, there is always a slight risk of contamination from undesirable microbes that could ruin the taste or even make you sick.

If you decide to make your own kombucha, follow the instructions and know what signs to look for that reveal a contaminated batch.

    References:

  1. Quigley, E. M. (2013). Gut bacteria in health and disease. Gastroenterol hepatol (NY), 9(9), 560-569. The Study
  2. Marchesi, J. R., Adams, D. H., Fava, F., Hermes, G. D., Hirschfield, G. M., Hold, G., … & Thomas, L. V. (2016). The gut microbiota and host health: a new clinical frontier. Gut, 65(2), 330-339. The study

41 Comments

  1. Judy 3 weeks ago

    Is this good for gerd?

    Reply
  2. Darlene 3 weeks ago

    Trader Joe’s Organic Kombucha not on list and would like to know how it would be rated

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 weeks ago

      Hi Darlene, We can’t list every brand but the main things you should be looking for is a “raw” or “live cultures” statement and a brand that is low in sugar.

      Reply
  3. carla reed 2 months ago

    just had the the most wonderful Kombucha I have ever had – Slow Burn by Tribucha – very refreshing

    Reply
  4. Cristina 2 months ago

    Hi I would like to import a couple of kamboocha brands to an EU country. Can someone advice which 3 brands they would recommend? I read the comparisons but any idea which brands are represented in Italy and U.K.? Thanks

    Reply
    • Bekah 2 months ago

      My go to brands are Health-Ade and GT’s. I believe Brew Dr is also very good. I live in California and the most commonly seen brands in stores are Health-Ade and GT’s. I hope this helps. I’m drinking the ginger-lemon Health-Ade as I write this 😋

      Reply
  5. Wave Slider 2 months ago

    How can you even put Kevita in here… it’s not even a small company (owned by Pepsi)… they pasteurize their product and then ADD probiotics back in… NOT KOMBUCHA!!!

    Reply
    • Bekah 2 months ago

      My thoughts exactly!

      Reply
  6. Michelle 3 months ago

    Hi there I absolutely love Kombucha tea and maybe everybody should check out purely living Kombucha tea the only FDA-approved Kombucha Tea facility in the United States, located in Oconto wi they also have the only coffee kabocha which is unbelievably tasty oh my. They have a variety of flavors and I believe they are coming out with more I can’t wait to taste.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Looks like a great brand, but since they have pretty limited availability not “everyone” can check them out. But, good recommendation for those in eastern WI.

      Reply
  7. hawkins88 3 months ago

    Dan,
    What about Suja sold at Costco?

    Reply
    • Selena 2 months ago

      Was wondering this myself.

      Reply
    • Heather 2 months ago

      I think Suja uses gmo/patented probiotic strains?

      Reply
  8. Rachel Kanaan 6 months ago

    Unity Vibes uses all organic ingredients even though they are not certified. Also one of the only Kombucha Companies brewing the authentic way which is not to tamper with the fermentation thus the alcohol content…

    Reply
  9. Sheila 7 months ago

    You state “The only brands that would just contain zero or trace amounts of alcohol are the pasteurized ones and these aren’t true kombucha and offer little, if any, health benefits.” The exception to that statement is Brew Dr. Kombucha which utilizes a method of low-temperature distillation to remove alcohol without harming the live and active cultures that make raw kombucha so beneficial. It’s authentic kombucha with all the health benefits. http://brewdrkombucha.com/kombucha-questions/.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 7 months ago

      Thanks for letting us know about the exception.

      Reply
    • Rachel Kanaan 6 months ago

      You guys Rock!!

      Reply
  10. Jeannie 7 months ago

    I love Kombucha Dog. They feature shelter dogs on the label and change the label once the dog is adopted.

    Reply
  11. CateBenjamin 7 months ago

    Go! kombucha fermented raw tea (The Real Kombucha Tea Company) is unpasturised and has 4.2g per 100ml, but the bottle is 750ml. I really like it but pricey at £4.99 a bottle

    Reply
  12. maxine 8 months ago

    i drink kombucha from a brand called Remedy Kombucha and its amazing, They have less than 0.5 grams of sugar in every drink.

    Reply
  13. betty boop 8 months ago

    Happy to read the 2 brands I buy are unpasturized. I tried making it myself but every single batch tasted like vinegar. Thanks for the great information.

    Reply
    • Kim 8 months ago

      Try again but shorten your days you brew. It’s quite easy 🙂

      Reply
  14. tiana 9 months ago

    What is your favorite?

    Reply
    • laura ann 8 months ago

      I love the GT’s brand (many flavors), and the Kevita the best, on sale at times in store. Lower sugar than others. Have your local grocer stock some or check Publix.

      Reply
      • laura ann 5 months ago

        Will not be buying Kevita anymore after hearing about law suit (false adv.) Will stick to Humm and GT.

        Reply
        • Wave Slider 2 months ago

          They also pasteurize their product….

          Reply
    • Dena Stewart 8 months ago

      I love GTS original and multigreen and GT Synergy Cosmic cranberry. I quit drinking coffee couple of years ago and I started drinking kombucha around April of this year and it makes me feel healthier and I haven’t had as many heart problems. Now with my glasses I can see it says 8 grams of sugar with two servings per bottle. Now I’m drinking four bottles per day and I wondered why I was gaining weight. I just bought a new case of the original tonight it’s my favorite but I’m going to have to cut back to one or two bottles a day.

      Reply
      • laura ann 7 months ago

        I drink about half bottle a day. The stuff (all brands )of kombucha is expensive and I am a retiree on SS. I have mixed a low sugar one w/ fruity one 50-50 in glass too. Yumm and The Big Easy brands- recent to Publix, have some in low sugar. Had trouble with Kevita lids and complained to their cust. svc. dept., hard to get open even with bottle/jar opener.

        Reply
        • Beau 7 months ago

          If you want to save some money, you really should try brewing your own. Once you get the hang of it it is really easy and you can brew your own for about 10-40 cents a bottle depending on what you flavor it with.

          Reply
        • Leah NYC 3 months ago

          A friend recommends brewing kombucha in one of those large glass beverage dispensers that have a spigot toward the bottom. Says it’s very easy.

          Reply
  15. tiana 9 months ago

    What is your favorite???

    Reply
  16. Heather B Kell 11 months ago

    Just FYI, Kevita’s kombucha (at least the flavors I’ve tried) has 35 calories per serving, not per bottle as stated above. Each 16oz bottle contains 2 servings.

    Reply
    • Ted 11 months ago

      Thanks for catching that and I’ve corrected the listing. I hate when brands do that. Who drinks just half a bottle of anything?

      Reply
      • Heather B Kell 11 months ago

        …the same people who think ¼ cup of ice cream is a serving.

        Reply
        • Tammy 4 months ago

          LOL

          Reply
      • Heather Heckathorne 9 months ago

        Adding to that, the sugar would double as well since what is listed on the label is only for half the bottle!

        Reply
  17. Scott Bailey

    Like the article states, the unpasteurized products continue to ferment, this means those sugar counts are lower due to the probiotics and yeast that continue to live and eat the sugar, you cannot really depend on the labels, alcohol will be higher than listed and sugar will be lower at the time of opening.

    Reply
    • Ted

      Thanks for that. Definitely good to note that about the changing sugar content.

      Reply