Kombucha is a beverage made from fermenting green and or black tea using cultures of probiotic bacteria. It can be used to bolster your body’s gut bacteria, leading to a healthier digestive tract.
Kombucha has become incredibly popular recently, and as a result, there is a dizzying number of products on the market to choose from.
These range from healthy and high-quality health beverages to sugary drinks that you’re better off avoiding. How should you find the best kombucha?
Check out our rankings. Our research team has ranked the healthiest kombucha available today.
1. GT’s Kombucha
GT’s Kombucha is one of the original and most popular kombucha brands, and it stakes its products on their purity and lack of additives or sweeteners.
GT’s Kombucha products are extremely low in sugar, with only two grams per bottle of the gingerade flavor. This makes it a winner for everyone, even if you are one a ketogenic or low-carb diet, and helps it garner our top pick.
2. Brew Dr. Kombucha
Brew Dr. Kombucha is high in probiotic bacteria and low in sugar, with only five grams per bottle. Some of this is added sugar, but the low absolute amount still makes it a great pick as a health beverage.
Aside from cane sugar, Brew Dr. flavors its kombucha with healthy extracts like cayenne pepper and lemon balm, so there’s added benefits beyond just the probiotic bacteria.
3. Latta Kombucha
Latta Kombucha is a certified organic kombucha that’s a solid pick if you are looking for something low in sugar.
Each bottle contains only two grams of sugar, so it’s not excessively sweetened like some of its competitors.
The taste is pretty mild, so if you are hesitant about trying some of the stronger and sharper kombuchas out there, Latta Kombucha could be a good pick.
4. Tealixir Herbal Kombucha
Tealixir Herbal Kombucha puts its own twist on kombucha by adding a broad range of herbal compounds, from marigold to dandelion to rose hips, to name just a few of the herbal ingredients in this kombucha.
Of course, it still contains the probiotic bacteria used to ferment the tea, and it’s sweetened with cane sugar, which puts its sugar content modestly high at nine grams per can.
If you think the herbal remedies in this kombucha will be helpful, it’d be a good call, but if you are looking for a more traditional kombucha, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
5. Captain Kombucha
Captain Kombucha comes in a wide variety of flavors, all of which have been well-received. Its main downside is its higher than average sugar content of 12 grams per bottle.
Low carb dieters and people trying to cut out sugar might need to look elsewhere, but for everyone else it’s a pretty good pick.
6. Wonder Drink Kombucha
Wonder Drink Kombucha is certified organic and naturally flavored, making it a solid pick.
It has a distinctly sharp flavor thanks to the combination of pear and ginger, but its sugar content is a little high, at 15 grams of sugar per can.
Setting that drawback aside, It’s a solid all-around pick if you can afford a little extra sugar in your diet.
7. Yogi Green Tea Kombucha
Yogi Green Tea Kombucha uses dried kombucha powder to add kombucha flavor and—hopefully—live bacteria to dry bagged green tea.
Since natural kombucha is a “living food” with cultures of live bacteria, it’s hard to know whether these bacteria survive the drying process intact, and whether they contribute anything other than flavor to the beverage.
Even though it’s popular, it may not be the best bet for health benefits.
8. Get Kombucha Kombucha Pro
Kombucha Pro is an interesting take on the benefits of liquid kombucha—it’s a concentrated extract of raw kombucha which strives to maintain the health benefits of the probiotics in normal kombucha by preserving them in a liquid form.
However, it’s not easy to compute a direct equivalent amount of concentrate to raw kombucha, and there’s no telling whether the live bacteria maintain their efficacy, so while it’s convenient for travel or for adding to smoothies, Kombucha Pro won’t be the right answer for everybody.
9. B-Tea Kombucha
B-Tea Kombucha is a lot more heavily fermented than other kombuchas, which gives it a much sharper and almost alcoholic flavor.
This makes it a more divisive kombucha product, as not everybody appreciates the sharp, sour taste. It does mean that the sugar content is quite low, though, at 2 grams per bottle.
Still, if you are going to be drinking this for health benefits on a regular basis, taste is important, which results in B-Tea Kombucha ending up lower down in the rankings.
10. Koe Organic Kombucha
Koe Organic Kombucha is certified organic and has a refreshing raspberry lemon taste, but its sugar content is prohibitively high for most people looking for a healthy drink.
At 20 grams of sugar per can, it’s more in line with what you’d get in a soda than a healthy probiotic beverage. While it’s okay as an occasional treat, the high sugar content makes it unsuitable for a daily kombucha drink.
Kombucha benefits and side effects
Kombucha is one of the few probiotic foods that you can drink as a beverage. People use it as a healthy alternative to soda, as kombucha is naturally fizzy and sweet, but doesn’t have the massive sugar content or acidity of sodas or sports drinks.
The fermentation process uses probiotic bacteria strains that have been associated with improvements in gut flora, making kombucha an increasingly popular choice for gastrointestinal health.
We’ll take a look at some of the health benefits associated with the probiotic bacteria you can find in a high-quality kombucha drink.
Kombucha contains probiotic bacteria that can boost your immune system. One surprising area of research on the uses and benefits of kombucha is in agriculture, where scientists are searching for better alternatives than synthetic antibiotics for increasing the resistance of farm animals to infection.
Research from this field suggests that kombucha could boost immunity and reduce the risk of infections, according to an experiment described in the journal Comparative Clinical Pathology (1).
The experiment involved feeding a large group of chickens either a diet supplemented with kombucha extract, or a control diet.
The researchers found that the kombucha supplemented diet improved gastrointestinal health and increased immunity in the chickens in a manner similar to that of traditional antibiotics.
This led the researchers to conclude that kombucha likely increases the activity of the immune system, and their findings suggests that people could benefit from this immunity boost too.
Kombucha is a great alternative to dairy based probiotics. Many of the traditional sources of probiotic bacteria in the typical diet are dairy-based.
This includes cheese, butter, yogurt and cottage cheese. Unfortunately, if you are lactose intolerant, a lot of these options are off the table (unless you take a lactase supplement).
However, kombucha is one probiotic food that is not dairy-based, and as such, people who are lactose intolerant can choose it as a probiotic source that won’t cause more gastrointestinal problems than it solves.
This was the conclusion of Anil Panghal and other researchers at Lovely Professional University and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology in an article published in 2018 in the journal Food Bioscience (2).
Along with the other non-dairy probiotics like kefir and kimchi, kombucha delivers a high dose of probiotics and other nutrients thanks to its fermentation period.
The researchers highlight a range of health benefits associated with the probiotic bacteria in kombucha, ranging from lower cholesterol, better immunity, increased calcium absorption, better protein digestion, and improved synthesis of B vitamins like folic acid.
For the 70% of the world that’s lactose intolerant, kombucha offers a very attractive way to garner these benefits.
Kombucha offers many of the antioxidant benefits of green tea. One of the other potential benefits of kombucha that Panghal and colleagues highlighted in their review article is the polyphenols present in the green tea that’s used to produce kombucha.
These polyphenols remain in the final product, so kombucha may have many of the same health benefits associated with green tea.
These include weight loss, better cardiovascular health, and strong resistance against the effects of oxidative damage on the body. These benefits are mostly theoretical, though; there haven’t been many studies that have directly tested the antioxidant effects of kombucha in humans.
Some animal studies do support this proposition, however. One such study was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2008 (3).
This study used mice that were intentionally fed a diet that would create high cholesterol. Some of the mice were given a kombucha extract as part of their diet, while some of the mice were not.
The mice given kombucha experienced decreases in their cholesterol levels and increases in biomarkers associated with antioxidant activity, indicating that the kombucha helped them achieve a healthier biological state.
More research needs to be done to validate this finding in humans, but these initial findings are promising and suggest that the health benefits of kombucha extend beyond just the probiotic content.
Some public health officials have expressed concerns over the health risks of kombucha, particularly because many people are choosing to manufacture and ferment it themselves.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described a series of serious illnesses, one of which was fatal, in an Iowa town in 1995 that was linked to kombucha consumption (4).
The CDC concluded that a series of errors in the home-brewing process was probably linked to the adverse effects: homebrewers often store their kombucha at room temperature, do not carefully sterilize their equipment, and may use kombucha starters from untrustworthy sources.
They also may store it in ceramic containers glazed with toxic chemicals, which can leach into the solution due to the acidic nature of kombucha.
Kombucha from trustworthy commercial sources are usually not subject to these problems, as commercial producers use sterilized equipment and are inspected by public health officials.
Kombucha, as it is a naturally fermented product, does contain some level of alcohol. The alcohol content depends on how long the kombucha was fermented, and since there are no standards on fermentation time, alcohol levels can vary considerably.
Federal law states that kombucha is supposed to contain, at most, 0.5% alcohol, but some products have been tested and found to have alcohol concentrations of almost 4% (5).
Even at this concentration, it would take quite a bit of kombucha to have an appreciable effect, unless you are particularly susceptible to alcohol—some medications, for example, have profound effects on alcohol metabolism, so drinking a lot of the wrong kombucha drink could have some adverse effects.
So far, research on kombucha has largely been relegated to either observational studies or tests of kombucha extracts in animals.
Neither of these make it particularly easy to recommend specific doses, and given how new kombucha is as a health trend, randomized controlled trials haven’t come out yet that would establish effective doses. Right now, typical kombucha intake is anywhere from four to 16 ounces per day.
Another dosing consideration to keep in mind is sugar content. Though the top-ranked kombucha drinks are very low in sugar, some other products have moderate to high doses of sugar, so keep your eye on the sugar content if you decide to drink a lot of kombucha on a regular basis.
Kombucha is a great source of probiotic bacteria, especially for people who are lactose intolerant.
These probiotic bacteria are associated with benefits ranging from better immune system function to improved protein digestion.
Moreover, the green tea content of kombucha gives it strong antioxidant properties that may help lower cholesterol and ward off oxidative damage.
Kombucha does carry some risk of serious adverse effects, particularly when it’s not made in a standardized commercial manufacturing process.
Dosing information is scarce due to a lack of clinical trials, but consumption of four to 16 ounces per day appears typical.
If you’re looking for a healthy and tasty way to increase your intake of probiotic bacteria and antioxidants, kombucha might be just what you need.