Despite the increasing popularity of kombucha — the fizzy, tart, fermented tea that so many of us find addictive — the commercial offerings have remained fairly limited. This is why I am happy to welcome the newest kombucha to the fold: Reed's Culture Club Kombucha. Was your curiosity piqued at the sight of "long-aged" kombucha? Wonder how it's different from regular kombucha? Me, too. If you're a kombucha fan, you'll want to listen closely.
First off, you may be wondering why "Reed's" sounds so familiar. This kombucha is being made by none other than Los Angeles-based Reed's Inc., producers of Reed's Ginger Beer Brews. These people know a thing or two about making tasty, refreshing beverages, particularly gingery ones. Given kombucha's affinity for ginger, this struck me as an excellent new venture for the company.
Chris Reed is the creative mastermind behind the company — yes, he's a real person! I spoke to him about how they make their kombucha and their long-aging process.
Chris told me right away that they let their kombucha age for an average of 45 days. This blew me away. As a kombucha homebrewer, if I let my kombucha sit for longer than two weeks, I find that it starts to become so sour and vinegary that it's undrinkable. Chris explained that they found that a long fermentation was useful for many reasons: Some probiotics and detoxifying acids don't even start to develop until after 30 days. A long fermentation also allows time for the bacteria to consume the alcohol produced by the yeast, which ensures a beverage that is well below the .05% threshold for non-alcoholic beverages — a common problem for commercial kombucha producers.
The kombucha definitely becomes sour and vinegary after all this fermentation, Chris said, but Reed's controls the final flavor by blending the fermented kombucha with high-quality organic juices. The end product is about 60% kombucha and 40% juice. The kombucha gets some natural fizziness in the bottle, but Reed's also balances it out with a little CO2 to ensure just the right amount of carbonation.
Tasting the kombucha, I definitely knew right away that this was something different. I have found that many kombucha makers, both national companies and small local operations, shy away from making kombuchas that are too sour or strongly flavored — which, in my mind, is how kombucha should taste. By stark (and happy!) contrast, Reed's kombuchas were boldly flavored, refreshingly tart, and bright with carbonation. They are not so sour that they'll make your face pucker, but Reed's doesn't shy away from that "real" kombucha flavor!
My favorite of the bunch was their Cabernet Grape Kombucha. It had the perfect balance of tart and sweet, with a lovely grape-y flavor that made me crave another bottle as soon as the first was finished. A close second was their Goji Ginger, which had the most spicy ginger in a single bottle of any kombucha I've ever had. If you are a ginger lover, this one is for you.
I really enjoyed all of their kombuchas, honestly. Besides the Cabernet Grape and the Goji Ginger, they have Coconut Water-Lime, Hibiscus Ginger Grapefruit, Pomegranate Ginger, Lemon Ginger Raspberry, and Passion Mango Ginger. All are brewed with a mix of oolong tea and yerba mate with spring water and raw cane juice. They are fermented with a real scoby (Chris Reed described brewing vats covered with monster-sized scobys at his facility!) and are blended with organic juices and herbs before bottling.
Have you tried any of Reed's kombuchas yet? What do you think of them?
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Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image: Emma Christensen)