Around town with Allison: Best kombucha in the Bay Area

Allison Fong/Staff

The title of this article may have sparked your interest for either of two reasons. You might be thinking, “OMG I love kombucha! Kombucha is my life!” or “What the hell is kombucha?” Whatever the reason may be, what’s really important is that you’re here now. This ever-so-trendy beverage has been making its way through mainstream media as the healthier version of soda. Although some people have very strong opinions on this beverage (@ the Uber driver I had in Portland who declared that kombucha tastes like urine), I am with those who love it.

So what exactly is kombucha? Kombucha is basically a fermented and slightly alcoholic tea. The majority of the ones you see in the grocery store don’t have a high alcohol content, but be aware that there is such thing as alcoholic ‘buch. With so many different variations, you’re bound to find a bubbly ‘buch that suits your tastes. Each company brews its kombucha a little bit differently, so if you’re trying it out for the first time, don’t be afraid to do some exploring!

As a Bay Area local, I love supporting local businesses, especially when it’s something that I hold true and dear to my heart. Although some of these kombucha brands aren’t local (shoutouts to GT’s and Health-Ade!), I wanted to highlight some of my favorite local kombucha brands for you all today. Cheers to my fellow kombuchaholics and friends alike — let’s get brewin’!

House Kombucha

This family-run San Francisco business has been brewing up a storm since founder Rana Lehmer-Chang started up House Kombucha in 2009. If you’re into floral notes, try out lavender lemonade for a floral and fruity treat. Or if you like ginger shots, ginger fire is the one for you — it burns so good.

Marin Kombucha

Another local favorite, Marin Kombucha, was started by two brothers in 2015 and can now be seen in grocery stores all around the Bay Area. Luckily for us, Marin Kombucha can actually be found on tap at the Berkeley Student Food Collective! Made from locally sourced and organic ingredients, what more could you ask for? Marin Kombucha carries a great variety of flavors, but my favorite has to be juniper apple — it’s not too sweet and has just the right amount of fizz for a refreshing treat! Because Marin Kombucha uses local ingredients, it also has seasonal flavors! The melon rose and blood orange cardamom flavor has got me feelin’ some type of way.

Clearly Kombucha

Started in 2009, this local kombucha brand makes its brew with organic, fair trade and non-GMO ingredients. Clearly Kombucha has some of the most unique flavors, such as black currant and my personal favorite, Asian pear! If these aren’t your vibe, be sure to try out the ginger mint lemonade for a cool and refreshing take on your favorite poolside drink (this one gives us major mint mojito vibes)! Not to mention, Clearly Kombucha has been killing the game in terms of packaging and hashtags. #eatsleepboochrepeat.

Revive Kombucha

Based in Sonoma County, Revive Kombucha has been a crowd favorite since day one. This is the only brew on this list to have a pop-off cap, which gives me major old-timey feels (I mean, it’s all about the aesthetics, right?). As a ginger lover, my favorite flavors of Revive Kombucha are ginger lime and yerba mate ginger. If you know anything about me at all, you’d also know that I am a coffee connoisseur, so the mocha Java coffee flavor is definitely up my alley (and maybe even yours!).

Cultured Pickle Shop

Speaking of local kombucha, the Cultured Pickle Shop is about as local as it gets! Brewing right here in Berkeley, Cultured Pickle Shop is a business that specializes in all things pickled or fermented. My personal favorites are the ginger rooibos (there I am with the ginger again) and the strawberry lemonade. Because of the rotating flavors, you’re always bound to find something new at Cultured Pickle Shop. If you’re ever in West Berkeley, be sure to stop by this place and pick up a delicious bottle of local ‘buch!

With all this knowledge, go and support local companies and pick up a bottle of some local kombucha the next time you come across some at a grocery store! Go ahead and shake that booch-y! (Note: This is a pun. Please do not shake your kombucha, as it is a carbonated beverage.)

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].