The first kombucha I ever tried was from GT's, and I was instantly hooked. Unlike some people who have to develop a taste for the fermented tea's sour-sweet flavor, I took to it like a 7-year-old to Sour Patch Kids. Maybe that's because my gateway 'buch tasted a lot like a Sour Patch Kid in liquid form.
It was GT's Passionberry Bliss, a refreshingly tart, juicy, and sweet blend of passionfruit juice, blackberry juice, and fermented tea. It was so good, I found myself making up excuses to pass by the store, just so I could pick up another bottle.
But GT's makes dozens of other flavors — 39, to be exact, and that's not including seasonal flavors. I couldn't help but wonder what I was missing. So I recently asked the company to give me a list of the 10 best sellers, and then I methodically tried them all.
Understanding the Labels on GT's Kombucha
First, a little insight into GT's labels. When you see "synergy" on the label, that means fruit juice or purée has been added. This makes it a little sweeter and richer in flavor than the flavors that are just labeled "kombucha," and it also increases the sugar a bit. But more importantly, the dark bottles with the words "classic" at the bottom mean they're full-strength and contain enough alcohol to require a 21-and-over age limit. If it's in a clear bottle and says "enlightened" instead, that means it's been diluted so it has less alcohol. A lot of flavors are repeated across these lines, so be sure to double-check the labels. And now on to the ranking!
Buy: GT's Kombucha, from $3.50 for 16 ounces
An Unofficial Ranking of GT's Best Kombucha Flavors
1. Synergy Trilogy
This has got to be the most crowd-pleasing kombucha ever concocted. The trademark tart-sweet-funk flavors are in perfect balance, with no one element overriding the other. It's made with raspberries and ginger, but it doesn't really taste like raspberries and ginger. It's just refreshing and fruity in a general way, so there's no risk of being put off by a fruit flavor you don't like. Bonus: The color is a beautiful bright pink. The bottle I picked up was from the higher-alcohol "classic" line, but it was so easy to drink that I bet the "enlightened" version is great as well.
2. Kombucha Original
I expected to be sucker-punched with sourness, or slapped with funk. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how light, refreshing, and subtly sweet this drink is. It's a lot like the perfectly balanced Trilogy, but without the fruity note. And because it doesn't have juice added, it has just 4 grams of sugar in the whole bottle — instead of 12 grams for the Trilogy.
3. Kombucha Multigreen
Once the smell of wet hay hit my nose, I was all set to thoroughly not enjoy this one. And then I tasted it. While the aroma may smack of bunny food, the flavor is delicious, like Odwalla green juice but light and fizzy instead of thick and filling, and without the overwhelming flavor of banana. It didn't taste vegetal like I expected — just a bit sweet, grassy and refreshing, with a really pleasant creaminess on the finish. Made with a trio of blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella, it offers a healthy dose of nutrients aside from those all-important probiotics.
4. Kombucha Tantric Turmeric
Turmeric is the anti-inflammatory powerhouse that put "golden milk" on the map. You can even get it in your latte at Peet's, so it's no surprise GT's put it in their kombucha. Again, I was a little skeptical about this one. Turmeric can have an odd, musty flavor. How would it pair with funky-sour kombucha? Turns out, it's great — especially since this drink is made with carrot juice, which is a perfect match for the earthy spice. If you love carrot juice, this is a zippy version that goes down easy.
5. Synergy Enlightened Mystic Mango
Super juicy and only lightly fizzy, this is probably the most kid-friendly flavor in the lineup. And it only comes in the "enlightened" line, so there's no risk of accidentally getting a higher-alcohol version. This one is also great for newbies, because there's so much mango juice it barely tastes like kombucha. I could see this being a great addition to a smoothie or even a cocktail. But those who love more sour, spare, funky kombuchas might be disappointed, as it's so heavy on mango juice.
6. Synergy Gingerberry
I love ginger — a lot — so I expected this one to rank higher on my list. But the blueberry juice seems a little too heavy in this, making the overall flavor a little too jam-y for me. Plus, the ginger gave off bitter overtones instead of just sweet-spicy heat.
7. Kombucha Gingerade
Like I said, I love ginger. So why did GT's full-on ginger flavor rank so low with me? Because nothing in this seemed balanced. The fizziness was a bit extreme, the sourness was a bit too much, and the flavor was too intense (like gnawing on a ginger root — peel and all!). I would totally mix this with one of the fruit flavors, like Passionberry Bliss, to add a little spicy heat. But on its own I'll pass. However, it's worth noting that my husband, who loves strong, bitter flavors, really liked this one.
8. Synergy Cosmic Cranberry
I wanted this to taste like cranberry juice, but a little lighter and funked up. Instead, it was a bit too sweet and the cranberry flavor was barely detectable. Also, it had notes of "Band-Aid," which I associate with brettanomyces yeast. This is a good thing in some beers, like saisons and sours and even some wines, but I didn't enjoy it here. However, once the drink sat for a while and warmed up, I tasted it again and could detect more of that distinct cranberry flavor I love. Still, not enough to make it a fave.
9. Synergy Raspberry Chia
If you love the mucilaginous texture of chia drinks, you'll probably like this. But I don't. Chia pudding is great, but I just don't love drinking something with the texture of slime. Texture aside, the flavor didn't wow me either. The raspberry had a sweet, cooked jam quality and there wasn't enough sourness to balance it.
10. Synergy Strawberry Serenity
Something might have been off with my bottle, since it fizzed up and spilled over as soon as I opened it. And the flavor overwhelmingly smacked of "brett," the yeast that can make things taste like you're chewing Band-Aids. Maybe this batch got tainted with too much of that wild yeast? Or maybe it was intentional? Still, getting past the brett, there was so little strawberry flavor I'm not even sure why it's on the label. This was a harsh, spare drink with not a lot going for it. I remember trying this flavor in the past and being disappointed. I was hoping that was a one-off and this time I'd love it. But no.
Bonus: Pure Love
Occasionally during the year, GT's releases a seasonal flavor. Around Valentine's Day it's Pure Love. The blend of hibiscus, blood orange, and rose sounded right up my alley because I love floral flavors. However, this one went a little overboard with the rose. Even though I'm the kind of person who will eat borderline-soapy rose-flavored Turkish Delight with joy and abandon, for some reason it was just too much in this. I might like it better if it had been blended with a sweeter or softer-flavored fruit, like berries, instead of acidic hibiscus and orange. Although I'd rank it at #7 or #8 or on my list, the checker at the store declared it was her favorite. If you want to try it for yourself, hurry because it's only available until March 31.
Do you have a favorite kombucha flavor from GT's? Tell us about in the comments below!