I've gotten into kombucha over the past couple of months, much to A's dismay (related to an incident where I didn't have the bottle cap screwed on all the way and the Verizon guy accidentally knocked it over and it fizzed all over the carpet with its sugary fermentedness. At least it wasn't the couch. Clutch, I know. I may or may not have dropped a vial of blood last night at work. I'm on a roll y'all).
TJ's carries another brand of kombucha, but I recently saw the TJ's brand and picked it up. And yes, the packaging with the modern calligraphy helped. :P
What is kombucha? It's a fermented tea drink made from yeast, tea, and sugar. Apparently it's been around for 2,000 years but it's recently been trending as a health and energy drink. There's a bunch of alleged health benefits (like probiotics, energy boost from the caffeine, "toxic cleansing effects," etc.) - but not much real scientific evidence to back that up aside from the occasional animal study (thanks WebMD. Being out of academia has made me lazy). I started drinking kombucha occasionally while I was having those awful lactose intolerance issues (can I go a blogpost without mentioning that? I'll try harder next time :P), and it has enough caffeine to get me through nightshift. Plus, it's a bit bubbly, which I find strangely soothing during the night. It's been a nice tasting alternative to the usual coffee or tea.
Water, tea, sugar, ginger tea, and kombucha culture. Let me tell you, that stuff SMELLS. I don't mind the smell but my husband thinks greek yogurt STINKS (there's truth to that) and therefore can't stand the kombucha smell either. Now I'm self-conscious about drinking this in public. I recommend pouring this into a vessel with a lid if you don't plan on drinking it in one shot.
Not a zero-calorie drink because of the sugar but it's 19g for the whole 16oz serving, which is still less than a smaller can of soda. So if we're picking the lesser of two sugar evils...this is just fine. I don't drink this everyday, only occasionally on days I'm working or recovering from work.
If you're not used to ginger, kombucha, or frankly any remotely fermented drink, this taste might be pretty off-putting. My first thought? This tastes like beer. Now I'm not a beer drinker. I'm really not much of an alcohol drinker period, but if I do drink it's something light and fruity. So the only beer than I kinda of sort of liked was Asahi, and this definitely reminded me of that except sweeter and with a gingery twist. Some beer drinker out there is going to try this and tell me that it tastes nothing like beer - there's probably truth to that but for a non-beer drinker this tastes like beer. How close is it to that nice TJ's brewed ginger beer (incidentally nonalcoholic and on the docket for review one day)? This is more bitter, less gingery, and more fermented. Still sweet though if we're comparing this to beer.
Also note that while this is TECHNICALLY a fermented drink, it's less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, which means it's NON-ALCOHOLIC. So was I pre-gaming for work? Yeaaaaaah maybe but NO.
Not my favorite flavor by any means. Obviously, the sweeter fruity flavors taste better, so I would love it if TJ's would come out with more flavors. Once I got used to the taste, however, I thought it was fine, even moderately enjoyable. I'd be willing to sip while everyone else downs a beer. I think it's the caffeine energy boost that perks up the extroverted part of my inner introvert. At $2.69 for a 16 oz can, it's a decent price. I can usually get other flavors on sale elsewhere for a slightly lower price, but this ain't bad at all.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Organic Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea. Fermented ginger-ish tea drink. For the maybe placebo health benefits but mostly for the caffeine and the bubblies. 6.5 out of 10.