A fermentation of sweetened tea, kombucha is created thanks to a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, often referred to by the acronym SCOBY. The resulting beverage is a slightly acidic, typically bubbly and entirely delicious probiotic elixir.
Here are four of the Northwest’s best examples. All the kombuchas on this list are “raw,” which means they have not been pasteurized and therefore contain living probiotics — considered one of the most beneficial aspects of drinking kombucha.
Green Tea Blend
Puget Sound Kombucha Co.
Three simple organic ingredients — imperial green tea, cane sugar and raw kombucha culture — are all Seattle’s Sound Kombucha needs to create this bright and refreshing sparkling beverage. Purists will appreciate quenching their thirst with this clean, straightforward example of the style.
Old Growth Chai
With a base of organic Assam black tea and cane sugar, this complex libation features a flavorful balance of spices — cloves, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom — plus wild-harvested chaga, a mushroom considered an immunity booster for its high level of natural antioxidants. All of the products from British Columbia’s Raincoast Kombucha are fermented with crystals in the tank, a nod to the historic use of these stones in beverage making throughout the world, including in ancient China and Greece and medieval Europe. Old Growth Chai’s production process features the translucent orange Carnelian quartz, often associated with creativity, sexuality and the root chakra.
Jun is a subset of kombucha fermented with specifically green tea and honey instead of sugar. Made in Portland, SOMA’s kombucha-jun hybrid Balance mixes organic cold-brewed green and black teas dosed with raw Oregon wildflower honey. Flavorful additions of pear and fennel result in a sweet, herbaceous blend that stands up well to food.
Beneficial Brewing Co.
At Beneficial Brewing Co., Seattle chef Jason Scherer’s culinary background at top-notch restaurants like Joule, Rockcreek and Marmite informs his liberal use of whole spices, roots and herbs. In this example, magenta hibiscus flowers impart a brilliant hue and a tart floral character that matches the zip of Egyptian lemongrass. Unlike traditional tea-based kombuchas, this beverage is entirely caffeine-free as it’s made from a tisane, or an infusion of herbs, rather than true Camellia sinensis tea leaves.