The Complete Guide to Hard Kombucha

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Kombucha first originated in China more than 2000 years ago. Over the past few years, it gained recognition in the United States because of its potential health benefits and unique taste.  It is a probiotic fizzy, fermented and acid drink. The “Hard” version has a longer and different fermentation process that results in it becoming slightly alcoholic. The healthy bacteria present in the beverage also aid in digestion and some even believe it has health benefits. So it contains less sugar and higher alcohol content and it makes it a guilt-free and healthy alternative to beers. 

How does Hard Kombucha Differ from a Regular Kombucha?

Both varieties contain tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. When the fermentation process is longer, the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) percentage is higher and similar to a typical beer. The difference in the percentage between the two is based on the amount of added sugar, yeast nature, and the duration of the fermentation process.

A regular kombucha has an ABV of 0.5 percent, while the “hard” version has an ABV ranging between 4.5 to 10 percent, making it a perfect replacement for beers.

How is Hard Kombucha Made?

Firstly, let us clarify that it is NOT beer. Unlike beer, kombucha is produced from tea leaves. However, the Tax and Trade Bureau recognizes hard kombucha as beer and requires brands to insert the word “beer” on their labels.

The ingredients include tea leaves, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. The fermentation is done using SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).

Step 1: Brew the tea leaves along with sugar. Once brewed, let the mixture cool down.

Step 2: Add the cool tea and sugar mix to your fermenter. Add a SCOBY to it and the culture liquid. Allow this mix to ferment for about 10 days. Secure the top of your container tight with breathable cotton fabric. Oxygen is essential for fermentation.

Step 3: Remove the SCOBY, and you get your regular kombucha. The regular kombucha is ready. For hard kombucha, you need a second round of fermentation.

Step 4: dissolve sugar in warm water. Let it cool, and then add a pinch of dehydrated yeast. You can choose the yeast-based on the flavor that you are aiming for. The sugar and yeast mixture foams within minutes. 

Step 5: Add the foamed mixture into the original fermented mix and slightly loosen the lid fabric. Set aside this new mix for another 10-14 days. Store it away from direct sunlight. 

Step 6: Add flavors of your choice, and the drink is ready to be bottled.

Product Review – Five Best Hard Kombucha’s to Try

We bring you a list of the five best brands that you can explore and include in your diet. 

#1 Juneshine Hard Kombucha Blood Orange Mint

Juneshine is one of the most popular hard kombucha brands that you find across the US. It is organic and contains real fruit ingredients. 

It is 100% gluten-free and kosher and complies with all the traditional dietary standards and is sustainably produced without GMOs. It contains 6% ABV. The flavor is subtle, and the 16 oz pack is perfect for carrying on a road trip or store in your refrigerator.

Juneshine, Hard Kombucha Blood Orange Mint, 16 Fl Oz Single Can
  • Organic, real fruit ingredients
  • Gluten-free and kosher
  • Contains probiotics and antioxidants
  • Sustainably produced without GMOs
  • 6% ABV

Apart from the Blood Orange Mint, Juneshine comes in a wide range of flavors – Honey Ginger Lemon, Midnight Painkiller, Cucumber Mojito, Hopical Citrus, and Acai Berry.

Buy it on Amazon

 

#2 Boochcraft Hard Kombucha Apple Jasmine

Boochcraft is 100% plant-based and gluten-free. They are probiotic and are the best replacements for calorie-rich beers. It is slightly on the harder side with a 7 percent ABV, making it a perfect beverage with health benefits.

The brand uses all-natural ingredients, and the unique flavor feels like a refreshing blast in your mouth. The product comes in a convenient 16 oz can.  

Boochcraft, Kombucha Hard Apple Jasmine, 16 Fl Oz Can
  • Bottle Fees May Be Applied to Price
  • Type Of Beer: Kombucha
  • Alcohol By Volume: 7% ABV

Some of the other popular Boochcraft flavors are Ginger Lime, Grapefruit Hibiscus, Orange Pomegranate, Lemon Maple, Watermelon Chili, and Spiced Pear. 

Buy it on Amazon

 

#3 Kyla Hard Kombucha Sunbreak Coconut

Kyla’s beverage line is 100 percent vegan and gluten-free. They are fermented at an ABV of 4.5 to 6.5 percent, giving you the balanced kick when you drink it.

The unique combination of fruits compensates for the tiny amount of sugar present, making this beverage both healthy and tasty at the same time. The drink is probiotic and an excellent alcohol replacement for everyday consumption.

Kyla Hard Kombucha, Kombucha Sunbreak Coconut, 16 Fl Oz Single Can
  • Bottle Fees May Be Applied to Price
  • Type Of Beer: Kombucha
  • Alcohol By Volume: 6.5% ABV

The 16 oz can size it an excellent go-to party drink without compromising on your fitness goals. The other amazing flavors are Ginger Tangerine, Hibiscus Lime, Pink Grapefruit, Berry Ginger, lavender Lemonade, Pineapple Ginger Colada, and Sunset Trio.

Buy it on Amazon

 

#4 Flying Embers Hard Kombucha Black Cherry 

Flying Embers are slightly inexpensive compared to their counterparts in the market. The ABV percentage in different flavors ranges from 4.5% to 7.5%, giving you a wide range of options for your taste.

It contains no sugar and no carbs and is made from a hundred percent organic ingredients and live probiotics. The drink is vegan and gluten-free. You can enjoy this beverage without cheating on your diet. An incredible party drink and the 16 oz can size make it a perfect and refreshing drink in your hand.

The other flavors by Flying Embers are – Mango Coconut, Pineapple Chili, Cherry, Ginger, Grapefruit Thyme, and Lemon.

Buy it on Amazon

 

#5 Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha Organic Passion Orange

Strainge Beast is another popular brand and has been a party favorite for many people. It is lightly effervescent and is naturally sweet because of the combination of natural fruit flavors in it.

The ABV is 7 percent, giving the kick of alcohol that you need, minus the junk calories which you otherwise consume from other alcoholic beverages, especially beers. The ingredients and organic, and the beverage is probiotic.

Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha, Kombucha Hard Organic Passion Orange, 16 Fl Oz Can
  • Bottle Fees May Be Applied to Price
  • Type Of Beer: Kombucha
  • Alcohol By Volume: 7% ABV

Strainge Beast does not have single flavors. Rather, they have a combination of flavors. Their flavors are – Blueberry Acai & Sweet Basil, Passion fruit Hops & Blood Orange, Ginger Lemon & Hibiscus.

Buy it on Amazon

 

hard kombucha - pinterest

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Hard Kombucha

What is in Hard Kombucha?

Hard Kombucha is made of basic ingredients like yeast, bacteria, sugar and tea. The “hard” refers to a higher alcohol content. The higher alcohol content is a function of the amount of added sugar, the type of yeast used and also the length of the fermentation process.

Often the kombucha manufacturers will do more rounds of fermentation and add more sugar and yeast to increase the fermentation and alcohol process. Each company has their own process of course, but this is the general process.

Is Hard Kombucha a Type of Beer?

No – it is not a form of beer. Kombucha is made of tea leaves and the “hard” version is still the same basic drink but with a different fermentation process which results in higher alcohol content.

Beer is typically made from a fermentation process that involves wheat. Yes, there are exceptions but the vast majority of beers are derived from wheat.

Note: There are some legal jurisdictions where regulatory agencies have had to label some of the hard alcohol kombuchas as “beer” but we think of that as more of a regulatory issue. A label won’t make this beverage  taste like a beer, or change how it is created through fermentation.

Is Hard Kombucha Better For You Than Other Alcoholic Drinks?

Ah, again this is highly subjective and there is of course no clear scientific data. People think they are “healthier” and they may cause them to create a self fulfilling process where they think they feel better.

Or they may actually feel better because they are avoiding tons of sugar that they might be consuming in mixed drinks that include sugary mixers.

Also, and perhaps the most obvious option, is that kombucha is rather tangy and acidic so its unlikely most people could drink more than one or two and that may result in them drink much less compared to the number of glasses of wine, bottles of beer, or mixed drinks they might otherwise consume.

Is Hard Kombucha considered “Healthy”?

Again, the truth is that no one really knows how the higher alcohol content impacts the impact of the probiotics in the beverage. Usually kombucha advocates always talk about the benefits of kombucha including the probiotics.

Some people have said that the higher alcohol that is derived from a slightly different, and usually longer, fermentation process may reduce the amount of probiotics and their possible benefits, or even “kill” the probiotics.

And remember that the probiotics are the yeasts and “good bacteria” in the beverage – so this makes sense. The team at Health-Ade (one of our favorite kombucha brands!) has made this exact point on their website.

Is Hard Kombucha okay for Children?

No, it is an alcoholic beverage and subject to your local state and other governmental laws.

Does Hard Kombucha have health benefits?

Honestly, no one really knows. People who are kombucha advocates are always trying to sell you on the benefits and may overstate them.

We like to be more cautious when it comes to health claims. The truth is that no one really knows. Most people drinking Hard Kombucha are people who already enjoy kombucha and alcohol. So it’s a more convenient option for them when they want to consume an alcoholic beverage.

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for healthy beverages, be sure to read our post about the health benefits of kefir. Or if you want to learn how to make kombucha at home be sure to read our tips for making kombucha at home.

Related: Read about the Health Benefits of Kefir, a yogurt based beverage.

 

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