The 411 on Your New Favorite Drink (Kombucha)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the new drink sweeping the market: Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent, probiotic tea, championed for its tart, tangy taste, and incredible health benefits. It’s key ingredient is the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), which when introduced to black tea and a little sugar starts the fermentation process.

To learn more about the Kombucha process and it’s history click here!

As this ancient (I’m talking 220 B.C.E.) recipe permeates the mainstream market, we’ve been seeing a lot of brands popping up claiming to be the real thing. But, as we continually see with mass marketing, brands are not always what they seem.

Kombucha SCOBY

Kombucha SCOBY

Kombucha is a fermented drink, and with fermentation comes alcohol production. By legal standards, non-alcoholic kombucha must stay at 0.5% or below. Attaining this level isn't difficult, but maintaining it requires a completely cold supply chain (which Joyride has, just sayin'). Even if a brewer keeps their kombucha cold, if the distributor does not refrigerate it, the alcohol content will rise. A lot of companies have, in order to avoid law suits and make their products shelf stable, begun to pasteurize their kombucha, permanently halting alcohol production. While effective, pasteurization also kills off all those wonderful and natural probioticsA common practice is to add a probiotic powder at the end of the pasteurization process, but is that really authentic kombucha? Joyride doesn’t think so. The whole point of kombucha is that it is a delicious, natural, and healthy alternative beverage, and taking away its key ingredient, takes away its purpose. The live probiotics in properly made kombucha cannot be replaced by a powder. As big name beverage companies scramble to find a way to mass market this awesome drink, keep in mind that there are no shortcuts for authentic kombucha.

“Come up with a product people love, and then create the infrastructure to support that product. Don’t adapt the products to the supply chain solutions, adapt the supply chain to the product and that’s what Joyride does.”

- David Belanich, CEO

While to date there is no official definition, most experts will argue that unless sold and served raw, it is not kombucha. Instead of cutting corners with this age old recipe, Joyride believes the best way to go is to adapt for the product. And since the industry shows no sign of slowing down, to protect the integrity of kombucha, this market needs a clear definition of what constitutes real kombucha. Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) agrees. KBI is a non-profit that represents the commercial kombucha industry, and aims to protect the industry and the beverage we love so much. The organization intends within the year to publish a true definition and set the standard.

So, when you go to buy your batch of booch this week, make sure to check your labels and see exactly how it was made. If it isn’t raw then pick a different brand. And if you still can’t satiate your kombucha obsession then make sure to spread the love and get Joyride kegs of kombucha in your office space!! Joyride only distributes kombucha from reputable brewers who keep their product raw and store it cold.

Joyride’s Kombucha Partners

By Emily Cohen, NYC Intern