I Tried It: Hard Kombucha Brands Taste Test

I Tried It: Hard Kombucha Brands Taste Test

Hard kombucha is quickly becoming a popular alcoholic alternative to beer and wine. We tried four varieties of hard kombucha made by local San Diego brands – see which one came out on top!

hard kombucha brands taste test

What is hard kombucha?

Thought to have originated in China, kombucha is a fermented beverage made from black or green tea plus yeast and bacteria to create the fermentation and its natural effervescence. Fruit juices, spices and other natural ingredients are often added to create variety and different flavors. Kombucha is often touted to provide many health benefits, thanks to its natural ingredients plus the probiotics from the tea’s living bacteria.

Hard kombucha is developed in the same methods as traditional kombucha but fermented for a longer time to produce a higher alcohol content (5% or higher). Similar to hard seltzers and ciders, kombucha is proving to be a popular alternative to beer and wine, growing 50% year over year.

The Hard Kombucha Taste Test

There are dozens of San Diego companies brewing kombucha, both traditional and hard. For the ease of this taste test, we selected hard kombucha brands in a can –  something that you’d likely purchase for your next beach picnic or festive party. We also picked similar flavors and varieties to test (all had ginger and citrus) so that there was a fair comparison. The selections were:

  • June Shine Honey Ginger Lemon
  • Local Roots Cali Mule
  • Nova Easy Kombucha Tangerine Turmeric
  • Boochcraft Ginger Lime

Read on to read our reactions and find out which one was our favorite!

hard kombucha brands taste test june shine

June Shine Honey Ginger Lemon 6% ALC/VOL

Out of the four hard kombuchas, this one was the most “beer-like”. It was smooth, easy to drink but with subtle hints of ginger and lemon. June Shine also adds honey and natural sugars to the fermentation process, which likely mellows out the bitter taste from the tea and alcohol.

June Shine is quickly growing in popularity, even on a national scale. So if Honey Ginger Lemon isn’t a favorite, their other flavors might win you over.

Overall: 8/10

Local Roots Cali Mule 6% ALC/VOL

This was the most “boochy” of the kombuchas. If you’re used to the traditional taste of kombuchas, you’d likely enjoy Local Roots’ approach to hard kombuchas. However, two of our taste testers were not frequent kombucha drinkers and deemed this one too “tart” and “fermented.” The ginger was also quite pronounced but the lime was very subtle.

Overall: 6/10

hard kombucha brands taste test nova

Nova Easy Kombucha Tangerine Turmeric 6% ALC/VOL

We’re not sure of the motivations behind this flavor creation but if it’s meant to be a prescription for a cold, this hard kombucha might do the trick. Along with tangerine and turmeric, this blend also has ginger and cayenne pepper. And that pepper taste is STRONG. This could work well perhaps as a mixer but as a standalone kombucha the pepper flavor is just too bold.

Overall: 4/10

Boochcraft Ginger Lime 7% ALC/VOL

Boochcraft’s Ginger Lime was so bubbly it quickly reminded us all of champagne. And tasted like it, too. The brew was the right amount of acid, bubble and sweet, making it a pleasing beverage to sip by the ocean. “It doesn’t taste anything like kombucha!” winning even the most skeptic tasters over. Boochcraft was the all-around favorite across the board.

Overall: 10/10

The Takeaway

Hard kombucha is often marketed as a “better-for-you” alcohol brew. Select your own varieties from San Diego hard kombucha brands, do a taste test, and see if the effects are more beneficial for you and your healthy lifestyle!

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