Thirdly, recent reports have suggested that millennials in particular are turning away from alcoholic tipples and looking for low or no-alcohol options, with the result that more bars, pubs and restaurants than ever are now choosing to stock kombucha as part of their soft drink offering.
We taste-tested over 30 varieties of kombucha to bring you our top buys, from plain options to interesting flavours (ginger, pink grapefruit and more) and options that can even replace sparkling wines. For more drinks inspiration, visit our product review section and discover over 400 round-ups, guides and mocktail recipes on our alcohol-free drinks hub.
Best kombucha to buy at a glance
- Best spiced kombucha: No.1 Living Ginger kombucha, £19.99 (12 x 250ml)
- Best ethical kombucha: HOLOS Citra Hops kombucha, £29.99 (12 x 330ml)
- Best passion fruit kombucha: Jarr kombucha passion fruit, £30.54 (12 x 240ml)
- Best pink grapefruit kombucha: Equinox Organic Kombucha Pink Grapefruit & Guava, £2 (275ml)
- Best plain kombucha: Left Field Sencha Green kombucha, £30 (12 x 330ml)
- Best tropical kombucha: L.A Brewery tropical ginger kombucha, £3.05 (330ml)
- Best sparkling wine alternative: Real Kombucha Dry Dragon, £9 (750ml)
- Best sour kombucha: Real Kombucha Royal Flush, £9 (750ml)
- Best ginger kombucha: Blighty Booch kombucha organic ginger, £38 (12 x 330ml)
- Best rosé alternative: L.A Brewery sparkling English blush, £10 (750ml)
- Best smooth kombucha: You + I Kombucha Original, £35 (12 x 330ml)
- Best champagne alternative: L.A Brewery Sparkling English Rose Kombucha, £10 (750ml)
What is kombucha?
To make kombucha, firstly, the tea is brewed and sweetened with sugar to help feed the fermentation process. Next, a scoby is added (an acronym that stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’) along with some starter liquid.
A permeable lid is attached and the mixture left to ferment for several days – this is the primary fermentation. When the kombucha is bottled for its secondary fermentation, flavourings can be added, including fruit, herbs, spices or other ingredients such as coffee, coconut water or rose petals.
The end result? A live, fermented drink that is effervescent, slightly sour, and can be flavoured with a huge variety of ingredients. Just like wine or beer, every kombucha recipe is unique, with the flavour profile, appearance and level of fizz depending on which ingredients and methods have been used during the brewing and fermentation process.
Best kombucha to buy 2022
No. 1 Living Ginger kombucha
You get a real stem ginger aroma with a heady base of turmeric on opening this kombucha. It has a great balance of flavours – a subtle sweetness, a tang of acidity and a gentle heat from the ginger with a peppery finish. Pale yellow and translucent, its robust fizz really adds to the warming effect with each sip. A flavour-packed treat.
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Amazon (£19.99, 12 x 250ml)
HOLOS Citra Hops kombucha
Best ethical kombucha
West Sussex-based HOLOS makes fantastic-tasting kombucha while doing good – in partnership with two UK charities, it employs survivors of slavery, providing training and job opportunities. We enjoyed all its flavours but found the zesty, tropical notes of the Citra Hops blend particularly bright and refreshing. A worthy recipient of three stars from the Great Taste Awards, this kombucha is an excellent substitute for beer and has a satisfyingly crisp, dry finish. HOLOS is available for purchase in M&S stores nationwide.
Amazon (£29.99, 12 x 330ml)
JARR passion fruit kombucha
Best passion fruit kombucha
This super-funky kombucha boasts a tangy passion fruit scent which balances well with the green and oolong blends of tea. We thought it was reminiscent of a fine scrumpy cider – great bubbles and ideal to refresh and revitalise you on a hot summer’s day.
Dry Drinker (£30.54, 12 x 240ml)
Equinox Pink Grapefruit & Guava kombucha
Best pink grapefruit kombucha
Bold, bright and confident, this Equinox kombucha is one for fans of strong, citrussy flavours. Brilliant pink in colour, it packs a really punchy grapefruit scent. On tasting, an enjoyable sharp and sour tang awaits beneath the fruity top notes. Vividly tropical and truly moreish.
Left Field Sencha Green kombucha
Left Field pride themselves on their unfiltered, raw kombucha, unadulterated with juices or flavourings, and it’s easy to understand why – this green-tea-based brew is really something special. In the glass, it’s pale, effervescent and almost champagne-like in appearance. The light aroma is delicate on the nose, with hints of apple and honey. To drink, it’s clean and crisp with just the right amount of fizz. Full marks for this one and well worthy of a toast.
Left Field (£30, 12 x 330ml)
L.A Brewery tropical ginger kombucha
Best tropical kombucha
Get a taste of the tropics all year round with this wonderfully zingy tropical ginger kombucha from L.A brewery. Infused with an aromatic blend of ginger, hops and yuzu, their latest flavour creates a rich base balancing notes of tropical fruits and fresh citrus. Based in Suffolk, all of L.A brewery’s drinks are inspired by founder Louise Avery’s love of foraging and using local fruits, herbs and botanicals. Other flavours we love from this brand include their fresh lemongrass kombucha and the unusual combination of strawberry and black pepper which leaves a satisfying kick on the palate.
Ocado (£3.05, 330ml)
Real Kombucha Dry Dragon
Deliberately targeting the discerning drinker, Real Kombucha now find themselves on the drinks menus of some of the best bars and restaurants in the UK, including The Fat Duck, L’Enclume, The Hand and Flowers and Le Manoir. Their Dry Dragon kombucha is particularly delicious – delicate, bright and sparkling, with a dry finish. Walking the tightrope between acidity and sweetness with ease, it’s a well-balanced flavour profile with lovely lemony notes. A great alternative to sparkling wine with a meal.
Waitrose (£9, 750ml)
Real Kombucha Royal Flush
This variety is brewed using first flush Darjeeling, which is hand-picked early in the spring for a delicate flavour – and it really shines in this kombucha. Pale yellow and lightly sparkling, it has a soft, peachy scent with a tangy undertone. It’s more sour than some – but not in a bad way – with a crisp, dry finish that’s altogether extremely enjoyable.
Blighty Booch Kombucha Organic Ginger
Best ginger kombucha
This North Wales-based brewery ferments premium quality organic whole leaf and bud tea from China in small batches to produce with a light and fruity beverage with a delicate effervescence. We love the ginger flavour especially, whose well balanced sweetness and warming, punchy flavour has earned it a coveted three stars from the Great Taste Awards.
Blighty Booch (£38, 12 x 330ml)
L.A Brewery Sparkling English Blush
Best rosé alternative
A fragrant kombucha inspired by summer Rosé wines, L.A Brewery’s latest flavour balances floral hops with tangy rhubarb, elderflower and seasonal fruits such as strawberry and peach. Initially dry on the palate, this refreshing kombucha releases layers of soft fruitiness, ending with a touch of acidity from the rhubarb. Ideal for sipping on lazy summer afternoons or cracking open for a special occasion.
You + I Kombucha Original
Best smooth kombucha
Brewed in Glasgow, You + I Kombucha is currently available in four flavours – but the original was our pick of the bunch, brewed with Assam tea in oak barrels. In the glass, it’s a bright, golden colour, with a very unusual scent reminiscent of demerara sugar. Fine, delicate bubbles give a gentle burst in each sip, and stay stuck to the glass as it’s swirled – if it were a wine, you’d say it ‘has legs’. On the palate, it’s oaky and full-bodied, with an almost alcoholic kick that makes you think of dark rum. There’s very little acidic aftertaste, so if you prefer your kombucha with less ‘tang’, this might be a winner for you.
You + I, (£35, 12 x 330ml)
L.A Brewery Sparkling English Rose kombucha
Best champagne alternative
If you are celebrating a special occasion, this champagne-inspired kombucha makes the perfect swap for a fine bottle of bubbly. Tangy assam and white monkey green tea provide a delicate base for floral infusions of organic white rose petals and wild elderflower. We enjoyed the gentle effervescence of this drink along with the fine balance of fresh citrus flavours and wildflowers on the nose, culminating in a crisp, dry finish
Ocado (£10, 750ml)
How we tested kombucha
As kombucha is a live product that continues to ferment once it’s bottled, it’s important to store it correctly to slow the fermentation process and to avoid changes in taste – so all the samples were chilled immediately on delivery.
On the testing day, all samples were served chilled and poured into wine glasses with nothing added – no ice, lemon or straws. Notes were taken on the packaging, appearance, smell, taste and fizz and a score given to each kombucha. We included 33 samples from a variety of price points and brands for this review.
How to make your own kombucha
The health benefits of kombucha
A beginner’s guide to fermented foods
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Are you a fan of kombucha? We’d love to hear your product recommendations in the comments below.
This review was last updated in January 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Lead image: Getty