Taste Test Thursday: The Kombucha Experiment

photos by Carol Shih
photos by Carol Shih

Taste Test Thursday is a new series that we’re starting here on D Magazine’s web team island. If you have other foods/drinks/non-humans you’d like to see tested out, send me a note. I really need a good idea for next week.

Our online art director, Ricky Ferrer, has always wanted to do Taste Test Thursdays, but I’ve been putting him off like the slow poke I am. Well, life is short and YOLO, right? Drink as much kombucha as you can, honey.

If you’re not familiar with kombucha, you need to drive to your nearest grocery store and grab a bottle. It’s a funky-tasting drink that has strong, vinegary notes to it. Some people like it, some people hate it. Some people think it’s healthy for you, especially if you’re drinking one with chia seeds. Who knows. I don’t.

Today Ricky brought five bottles of this fermented, sweetened tea + one cup of  Holy Kombucha ginger kombucha (on tap) from Buzzbrews. Seven of us blindly tasted from the bottles and picked our favorite (or, in some cases, our “least despised one”). We kombucha’d it up.

Jump to find out which kombucha won.

The experiment table. No, those are not cups of urine.


– Ricky set aside the Buzzbrews ginger kombucha (on tap), and poured the five bottled kombuchas into small cups. In total, we had 35 cups of kombucha lying on our experiment table. (No, we didn’t play flip cup.) Nobody knew which of the cups belonged to which. He covered up the bottles with pieces of paper, labeled them A to E, and did the same with the cups.

– Each person (we had seven) received two blank pieces of paper. One for writing notes; one for writing down their vote.

– Ricky picked two national brands (GT’s and Celestial) and three Texas brands (Kickin’ Kombucha, holykombucha, and Buddha’s Brew) just to mix it up. He made sure they were all original flavored.


A. Kickin’ Kombucha (Straight Up flavor) – made in Houston, TX

B. holykombucha (original flavor) – made in Fort Worth, TX

C. Buddha’s Brew (classic flavor) – made “with love” in Austin, TX

D. Celestial (original 100% pure kombucha) – national

E. GT’s Kombucha (original flavor) – national


We had three testers who’ve never tried kombucha before, and four who have. BAM. Equality. Sort of.


A:  Kickin’ Kombucha (Straight Up flavor)

Taster 1 – is good, would drink more of
Taster 2 – bitter, watery, almost beery
Taster 3 – wine
Taster 4 – manure 🙁
Taster 5 – reminds me of a mixture of wine and beer

B. holykombucha (original flavor)

Taster 1 – tastiest
Taster 2 – lighter color, tastes like berries
Taster 3 – sweet
Taster 4 – flowery, carbonated
Taster 5 – less carbonated, sweeter, lighter

C. Buddha’s Brew (classic flavor)

Taster 1 – vinegary; if you enjoy apple cider vinegar
Taster 2 – super vinegary
Taster 3 – tangy
Taster 4 – apple-y
Taster 5 – tart, makes my mouth water, not good, strong
Taster 6 – “Whoa,  that one bites back at you when you think you’re finished.”

D. Celestial (original 100% pure kombucha)

Taster 1  – blegh
Taster 2 – makes my mouth pucker, too strong
Taster 3 – EW!
Taster 4 – tart smell
Taster 5 – yuck, better than C but not good, bitter, beer-like

E. GT’s Kombucha (original flavor) – national

Taster 1 – reminds me of A
Taster 2 – mix of A-D
Taster 3 – bland
Taster 4 – mild
Taster 5 – better than C+D, less biter, not as potent


Holykombucha (4 votes) ***WINNER***
Buddha’s Brew (2 votes)
Celestial (1 vote)


More people liked  the holybombucha flavor because of its fruityness and lightness. (Fort Worth, REPRESENT.) But then Ricky pulled out the Holy Kombucha’s ginger kombucha on tap, and everyone melted into its gingery goodness. Hands down, that ginger kombucha won. A little bit of ice + a little bit of ginger kombucha = the perfect summer drink.

The end. Until next time, amigos.


  • stanwilder

    I must honor your eclectic array of Kombucha.
    However as a brewer of the homemade version of Kombucha since 1992 I must say that Kombucha can be many things to a variety of people.
    With just a little tweaking the home brewer can have just what he desires from his Kombucha for just a few pennies per glass.
    The home brewer can add more fizz, make many flavors, he can vary the flavor from sweet to acid after just a few runs of making homebrew Kombucha.
    Stan Wilder

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  • Boardwalk97

    Try REED”S Kombucha next time for a perfect score!

  • A

    Shoulda tried Buddha’s Brew Ginger ir Granberry instead. Much tastier than the plain!