World Kombucha Day is celebrated every February 21st. While the exact origins of kombucha are unknown, the legend goes that kombucha dates back to the Qin Dynasty starting 221 BC. Hence the reason for 2/21 being World Kombucha Day. It is believed that emperor Qin Shi Huang would do anything to extend his time living on earth. So Qin requested alchemists to bring him this Tea of Life.
Today kombucha is loved as a beverage made with real ingredients and offering the benefits of a healthy gut from its SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) used to ferment tea. All kombucha has alcohol in it naturally, but extremely tiny amounts. More recently a subcategory of kombucha has emerged known as hard kombucha. Hard kombucha is brewed by adding more sugar and strains of yeast in the fermenting process and then keeping it in a tank for another week or two.
Hard kombucha is about producing a beverage which is fun to drink, but also offers some health benefits with its probiotics from fermentation. The hard kombucha brewers on the list below pride themselves on sourcing the highest quality and cleanest ingredients. These kombucha brands also all use real sweeteners and not any sugar alcohols or heavily refined sweeteners such as agave.
In alphabetical order, here are the 8 best hard kombuchas:
Boochcraft was founded by three friends from the Ocean Beach community in San Diego. They wanted to make a kombucha which tasted great, gave a feeling of connection, and used whole foods and quality ingredients. They also specifically saw the need for there to be an alcoholic beverage which people can feel good about drinking at the same time they enjoy the taste of it. Boochcraft is a Certified B Corporation as they strive to equally support the planet, people, and profit. To produce their kombucha, they use real fruit and fresh press it themselves. 1% of their gross sales are donated to fund projects which work toward building a sustainable global community. Boochcraft is also a member of 1% For the Planet. They have five regular flavors along with four seasonal ones and a large collection of limited release flavors. All of Boochcraft’s flavors are based around fruits. In San Diego, their hard kombucha can be found at their taproom as well as in supermarkets.
Having worked as a bartender, barista, and liquor caterer in his 20s, Dr Hops co-founder Joshua Rood was amazed when he heard a company in Michigan was brewing hard kombucha. As nobody else was making hard kombucha at the time, he felt this was something he could do really well. So Dr Hops was born. To make their hard kombucha, Joshua looked at sourcing the highest quality and most healthy conscious ingredients. The name and logo for Dr Hops was based off of a rabbit Joshua’s wife adopted named Dr. Hops. The flavors are derived from other types of alcoholic beverages people know and love. For those who drink mimosas, there’s Dr Hop’s strawberry lemon flavor. For IPA fans, they have a kombucha IPA. Their ginger lime is inspired by a Moscow mule. And Dr Hops’ rosé uses rosé grapes as it’s inspired by that type of wine. Joshua sees these flavors as a way to introduce people to hard kombucha as they might not otherwise feel like they understand the beverage.
In 2017, the largest fire in North America swept through around the home of Flying Embers founder Bill Moses and the R&D facility where his kombucha was. Bill was fortunate that the fire department was working hard day and night to put out the fires. As Bill came to appreciate the sacrifice they were making, the brand and purpose of his business became all about giving back to the first responders. A portion of their profits is donated to them. As on the third night of the fire; Bill could see the embers flying over the hillside, he decided to name the brand Flying Embers. Flying Embers puts wellness first using the highest quality USDA organic ingredients to produce flavorful beverages. They brew four types of hard kombucha along with canned cocktails and hard seltzer. People can also order all of Flying Embers’ products at the Santa Barbara taproom.
Friends Larry Haertel Jr. and Aaron Telch founded Jiant in 2019 when they saw tea and botanicals as the perfect way to introduce a new type of adult beverage. They wanted an adult drink which provided more nutritional benefits and didn’t use conventional ingredients. At the beginning they brewed the hard kombucha at their Santa Monica apartments. While they’ve since moved out, Jiant still keeps its promise to source the highest quality organic ingredients. Jiant has six flavors of hard kombucha and three flavors of hard tea.
Cousins Ryan White & Joe Carmichael discovered they shared a passion for health and wellness. As both of them had personal experiences which led to them changing their lifestyles and the food and drinks they consumed, they found a love in clean eating and juicing. They then both began brewing kombucha in their home kitchens, eventually resulting in them forming the company Local Roots in 2017. “Local” referred to being part of a particular neighborhood while “Roots” was about being a established with a deep purpose. Local Roots makes large varieties of both regular and hard kombucha. Additionally, Local Roots has two tap rooms in Southern California with 40 rotating tap handles.
The Luna Bay Booch Co. was created with the desire to make a change in the alcohol industry. Its founders wanted an alcoholic beverage which was better for themselves, their minds, and their planet. This desire turned into them brewing a natural hard kombucha with real and ethically sourced ingredients. Luna Bay is both the first hard kombucha founded and run by all women as well the first produced and distributed in Chicago. 1% of the brand’s total sales are donated to environmental nonprofits, including I Grow Chicago, 1% for the Planet, and The Brave Spice Alliance. Luna Bay’s hard kombucha is available in eight different flavors.
Having been a leader in craft beer for over 40 years, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was up for a challenge. They decided to try their hands at hard kombucha, knowing there’s a large room for things to go wrong when mixing together fruits, botanicals, bacteria and yeast. But when done right, it can turn into a great tasting and flavorful beverage. To Sierra Nevada, hard kombucha is a Strainge Beast. As they uses the best natural and organic ingredients, they never have to compromise on flavor. Strainge Beast currently has four different types of hard kombucha.
Before launching Wild Tonic, founder Holly Lyman was a painter who made her artwork out of beeswax. Being interested in bees, she one day discovered jun. Jun is similar to kombucha, but uses green tea and honey instead of black tea and cane sugar. Holly experimented with jun for several years and ultimately perfected it to be sold as Wild Tonic. Wild Tonic focuses on both sharing jun kombucha with the world and teaching people the importance of bee conservation. Wild Tonic brews traditional jun kombucha, hard jun with 5.6% and 8% alcohol, and mocktails.