Best in show - Metro Mag
The first comprehensive* tasting of every bottle of buch in the country, blind-tasted by Metro.
In case you hadn’t noticed, kombucha is the new craft beer. And, in the same way as home brew once transitioned out of the garage and into the supermarket beer fridge, commercial buch has transitioned the glorious scobie from your fridge to a plethora of brands, bottles and designs.
So, first things first. What is kombucha, exactly? Strictly speaking, it’s made by fermenting tea sweetened with sugar with a “scobie” — a creepy blob of yeast that looks something like what one imagines the bottled dreams in The BFG looked like. But that’s another story. Its health benefits are many, varied — and unproven. But it’s better than booze, right?
As a result of our sudden interest, there are now many things calling themselves ‘kombucha’ on your supermarket shelf. Whether they actually are strictly kombucha is becoming something of a vexed point in the health-food industry, and it’s an issue far too complex to go into here. Safe to say many aren’t, and probably bear a closer resemblance to artificially sweetened soda than anything else. In our experience, these don’t taste very good (though they can also be real, and not taste very good, as you’ll see).
The best, though, are delicious! Recently, the Metro team blind-tasted 34 kombuchas, ranging from artisanal to the industrial. During our tasting, some trends appeared. Kombucha can be brilliant in the same way as a cider can be brilliant, with a balance of aromatics and sweetness, acidity and even a little bitterness. Many were kind of in the middle. The worst? Overly sweet, too carbonated, artificially sweetened and flavoured. Read on for our results.
Best in show
1. Batchwell Earl Grey
$5.39 for 375ml
Clearly, this is the kombucha to beat all kombucha, but its greatest strength is in its restraint. There’s a fragrance to it — one panellist described it as “like an Aesop store, in a good way”. In the glass, it’s clear, bright and golden; it’s very easy to drink, with subtle notes of ginger, lychee and tropical fruit. It would go very nicely with food — a Buddha bowl, perhaps?