Image: Food52.com // Photography James Ransom and Bobbi Lin
Kombucha should send a big cheque to its PR team. In just a few years, the strange fermented tea drink has gone from homebrew horrors to the sip of choice of the health obsessed. Yep, it’s the soft drink of the wellness world and it’s no surprise why. It’s refreshing and satisfying but actually good for you—it’s full of antioxidants and gut-loving goodness.
That being said, not all ‘booch is created equal. Kombucha gets the side-eye from some wellness experts who believe some brands contain too much sugar. If you know a thing or two about the brewing process, you’d know that sugar is essential—it’s what the gut-loving bacteria feed off (lucky things). And although most of the sugar in kombucha should be consumed during fermenting, nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill warns, this isn’t always the case.
“All kombucha should contain four key ingredients: tea, water, sugar and the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or mother culture,” says Jacqueline. But the amount of sugar left in the final product depends on the length of fermentation. “Brands that brew for shorter periods [will] retain more sugar than those with a long-aged fermentation process.”
So how much is too much? “Given the prevalence of hidden sugar in so many products and the more being uncovered regarding its negative health impacts, the less sugar the better … The World Health Organisation recommends minimising sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. This equates to around 25g and 38g. When you consider that some kombucha brands on the market contain up to 15g per bottle, this puts things into perspective!”
Along with assessing the sugar content, Jacqueline recommends avoiding artificial additives. “Aside from the ingredients list, another way to be sure it’s all natural is when it’s certified organic.”
So how do you know which bottle to reach for? We’ve done the heavy pouring for you.
A post shared by Remedy Kombucha (@remedykombucha) on
Sugar per serving: <0.1g
Yep, you read that correctly. With the official tick of approval from Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ program, it’s safe to say Remedy wins MVP. Weighing in at less than 0.1g per 330ml bottle, it’s essentially sugar-free. It’s also 100% natural, organic, raw and unpasteurised and somehow still tastes delicious. It’s no wonder Remedy has such a cult following—Jessica Sepel, Steph Claire Smith, and Brooke Hogan are all fans and Jacquline Alwill is an ambassador.
A post shared by Apples and Sage (@applesandsage) on
Sugar per serving: 3g
Newer onto the scene is ‘booch brand, Lo Bros. Available in five flavours, including our personal favourite raspberry and lemon, it’s already making a name for itself. With approximately 3g of sugar per 330ml bottle, it’s surprisingly sweet without the sugar high.
A post shared by Wild Kombucha by Ballsy (@wildkombucha_byballsy) on
Sugar per serving: 8.6g
Husband and wife duo, Lara and Matt Ball are the brains (and hearts) behind Wild Kombucha so it’s no surprise that it’s seriously tasty and made with love. Don’t believe us? Visit their Kombucha Bar & Art-Food-Medicine Collaboratory in Sydney, Australia.
Sugar per serving: 6.1g (crafted) & 9.4g (uncrafted)
Stocked in many big supermarkets, Mojo is one of the most well-known brands out there. We love that they’re family owned, certified organic and have seriously minimal ingredients. With 1 billion Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086 organisms per bottle, they’re also an elixir of beneficial bacteria but we’d recommend sticking to the ‘crafted variety’ which has a bit less sugar—the trusty ginger had 6.1g per 330ml bottle.
A post shared by Herbs Of Life (@herbs.of.life) on
Sugar per serving: 9.5g
With fun concoctions like lemon myrtle, ginger and lime and peach and apricot, it’s hard not to like Herbs Of Life. They’re brewed in the Blue Mountains, use all organic ingredients and focus on herbs that heal. While they’re slightly higher in the white stuff, they got the taste to a Tea (see what we did there).
A post shared by Parker’s Organic Juices (@parkersorganic) on
Sugar per serving: 12.5g
Known for their juices, Parker’s have entered the gut-friendly ‘booch market with success. Their kombuchas are 100% organic and sweetened with fruit juice, making them slightly higher in sugar than your average brew. That being said, they’re not bad on the buds. Not your local brew? Here’s how the popular USA brands ranked. Or perhaps you’d prefer to take control by making your own kombucha at home.