Today I took a plunge into the highly acclaimed, sometimes strange and delightfully delicious world of kombucha. Up until very recently, I had never heard of the stuff. Thanks to a particular Texas-based YouTuber, I was finally schooled on its existence. Well…somewhat. She explained kombucha to be an over-hyped and costly health drink, but yet she still wanted to buy some. There was zero mention of the drink’s exact health benefits, its ingredients or what made it so popular. My curiosity was peaked nonetheless. What was kombucha after all? What did it taste like? What was it made of? But more importantly, what cave had I been living in to where I had never heard of it before? Several Google searches and one kombucha “textbook” purchase later, I had the opportunity to answer my many questions and absolutely fall in love. Kombucha has a brand new convert.
Though kombucha is quite possibly one of the most intriguing beverages I have ever come across and it has enough claimed health benefits to be deemed a miracle in a bottle, I’m actually not going to delve into all of that fun stuff in this particular article. However, if you are so inclined to bulk up on your kombucha knowledge, you can find my run-down on it over here.
I had no idea what I was truly getting myself into at the beginning of this experience. Though I’ve always been a huge lover of various types of tea, I had no frame of reference for fermented tea up until now. Despite having previously researched how kombucha is made and being able to successfully resist the urge to gag at the totally cringeworthy images of SCOBYs (If you have never seen one of those things–brace yourself and get on Google now), I was a wee bit apprehensive. Additionally, one of the more curious descriptions I came across during my research likened kombucha’s taste to that of pickle juice: Yikes! Though I do like a good dill pickle once in awhile, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to chug anything reminiscent of their juice. All the same, I remained far too intrigued by kombucha’s origins and the sheer nature of it to be prevented from tasting it at least once.
As you can see, my first fermented tea flirtation was crafted by Humm. According to their website, they have ten different flavors–one of which is an exclusive flavor sold only at Target. I personally purchased my own bottle from Target, but I chose the Coconut Lime flavor. This was a pretty fortunate pairing because there are a TON of kombucha brands out there on the market, each with a wide range of flavors to suit just about everyone. Though I had been wondering how kombucha tastes in its natural, unflavored state I thought it’d be best to stick with something flavored on my first try. After all, I still had the pickle juice comparison in my head; I was hoping a fruity flavor might counteract the vinegar taste I was expecting!
The first thing I did upon finally opening up my bottle was inspect the appearance and smell of the liquid inside. Holding the bottle up to the light it appeared that the kombucha was somewhat cloudy in nature. Much to my relief, there were no weird mini-SCOBY blobs floating around inside (thank you!). Apparently, some brands of kombucha leave baby SCOBYs inside of their brew. Concerned about the impact seeing one of these swimming around in my own bottle would have on my ability to enjoy the drink, I was grateful to skip the potential trauma.
As for the smell, I can see where the pickle juice reference came from. There was a very definite acidic, vinegar-esque aroma emanating from the bottle, which left me wondering just how palatable or refreshing kombucha would actually prove to be. Though I had heard many accounts of people ditching their morning coffee for glasses of kombucha, I could not imagine how something that smells of vinegar could translate into being the least bit fresh or invigorating. I guess the only way for me to find out was to try it out.
After grabbing a glass and sitting down at the kitchen table, I poured out some of the bottle’s contents–emphasis on “some”. By this point, I was concerned. Very concerned. The smell was downright foreign to me, so I wasn’t positive that I needed to go wild with a full glass just yet. With this being the first thing I consumed for the day, I wanted to ensure that my stomach didn’t completely freak out from being introduced to something so new. You can never be too sure, you know.
Being able to actually see the kombucha outside of the dark amber glass of the bottle admittedly soothed some of my fears. Like I had assumed, it was rather cloudy, but its light wheat color looked harmless enough. It was full of the tiniest carbonation bubbles I’ve ever seen, which enticed me to hurry and try it (I love carbonated drinks with a passion). And try it I did! Over and over and over again. Before I knew it, the bottle was gone and I was desperately sad that I didn’t have a second one to pop open.
Appearance: Opaque and pale yellow in color. Plenty of fizzy bubbles, indicating adequate carbonation.
Smell: Predominant tangy vinegar scent with underlying tones of sweet coconut. Slightly sour in nature. The lime was very subtle; barely noticeable.
Texture: Light and effervescent. Leaves a nice bubbly feeling on the tongue. Goes down easily.
Flavor: Low to no traces of vinegar taste (huge shocker). There is an unusual, but pleasant dichotomy between the vinegar you smell while taking a drink and the experience your tongue ends up having. It is very hard for me to describe, but it was kind of a cool sensation. You know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” Well, this principle applies here, only it should read, “Don’t judge a drink by it’s smell.” The overall flavor is quite delicate; no one flavor overwhelms another even though coconut is the star of the show. The lime, though present, is very secondary in flavor. Despite my initial reservations, there was a crisp, refreshing quality to the kombucha that made me want to keep drinking it. With a fine balance between tangy and sweet, I found the unique flavor to be enticingly distinct.
Tastes Like: Alcohol. Point blank period. If I said it reminded me of the tea it is actually made of, I’d be lying. The carbonation in it reminds me of soda as well, but the flavor is almost too unusual to be any kind of soda I’m used to. Initially, the kombucha was giving me the vibes of a light beer. As I took subsequent sips, I was overtaken by imaginations of hard cider and a fruity sparkling wine having a wild night together, only to produce a bubbly lovechild named Kombucha. Peculiar? Absolutely. Accurate? I think so. The bottle’s label does indicate that the drink contains trace amounts of alcohol, which can be expected with fermented drinks. Rest assured, it is not enough to be stumbling, slurring and swerving. No designated drivers needed!
Overall Impression: What a fun drink. How could it get any better? Not only did it satiate the part of me that loves the tingly sensation of a highly carbonated soda, but it gave me the essence of champagne as well. However, the most amazing part is that it’s actually healthy and beneficial for your body–we all know alcohol and soda can’t exactly boast of this. I definitely wish I had other flavors to compare the coconut lime to, simply because I feel as though this one was a bit subdued. I’ve personally never found the combination of coconut and lime to be too terribly exciting per se, so I do wish the flavor had been amped up just a bit. This is hardly a criticism though. I would grab another bottle of the coconut lime any day of the week. Humm’s other flavors are already calling my name. Back to Target I go.
As a side note, there a few other really cool things that I enjoyed about Humm Coconut Lime Kombucha. First, it is organic, gluten and GMO-free. This makes me incredibly happy, as I am finding the ever-growing list of genetically modified foods and beverages downright alarming. I’m not sure how many other kombucha manufacturers make their products with the same care and consideration for consumers, but Humm certainly gets a round of applause from me.
Another fascinating thing about this kombucha was the nutrition facts label. I don’t know if I’m the only weirdo in the world who enjoys the “art” of analyzing ingredients labels and such, but bare with me. I honestly got a kick out of being able to pronounce all of the ingredients in here, for one. Secondly, I loved the fact that this is fat free. Seeing as I am currently (supposedly) on a diet, I have been living off of water and unsweetened tea/coffee. While these drinks can be good for you, they can get really boring really quickly. I am so glad to have found something with such an exciting taste that won’t pack on the pounds. Last but not least, check out the Vitamin B12 in this stuff–8870%?! And that’s per serving. I don’t know about you, but I was impressed by all the digits. If you’ve been lacking in B12, you know where to find some now. You’re welcome. -Xo