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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Cultured Beverages cultured beverage???

What the what?

I really have no idea what this you? If so, please please please chime in here.

I get what kombucha is. I sure as heck drink enough of it - several times a week. All them good little bacteria germies make my stomach feel gooooood, especially around these holidays and all the food that despite my best intentions I can't seem to stop cramming down. I mean, when sweatpants seem like a good daily option, it's time to cut back.

But Trader Joe's Organic Cultured Beverage? Never heard of a straight up OCB before. Comes in the same kinda glass bottle on the same refrigerated shelf as the various kombuchas TJ's offers, including under their own name. It's at the same price point (or close enough) at $2.69 locally for a pint. It comes with the same quasi Happy Fun Ball-esque handling instructions.

Think the similarities end there? Nope! Similar alcoholic content (0.5% or less, meaning you don't need to be 21 to buy it). Similar sediment of funk on the bottom. You open it, it fizzies up just the same. Take a sip, of either flavor...yup, that same ol' familiar acridic fermented bacterial bite. MMM, who doesn't love the taste of gluconobacters and acetobacters and benedicto cumberbacters getting their schwerve on? For those not acquainted, the word vinegar-y is not quite right, but it's the closest I'm aware of.

But, alas, after some careful discernment, there are perhaps a few differences. Alas, I am not a gastroenterological microbiologist (surprise!), so where there may be some differences on what what microbes and how many of them, I cannot speak intelligently about them. But in comparison to regular kombuchas, the cultured beverages seem less intense, perhaps a little scaled back. There's also lower juice content. Whereas most kombuchas I have had say they are 10% juice, the OCBs check in at 4%. So that can also play a part. My hunch, completely uncorroborated, is that the OCBs are basically a slightly watered down kombucha for those who want/need the benefits of kombucha but in lessened impact.

Anecdotally speaking, for me, it works about the same and I feel about the same afterwards, and I enjoy the OCBs just as much. Between the two flavors TJ's currently offers, I prefer the mango over the hippie Arnold Palmer as I feel fruit lends itself better to the fermented drink genre, especially those that are sweeter like mangoes as opposed to a more subdued taste like iced tea and lemonade.

Good, solid drinks, for sure. Not sure what else can be said...but if you're interested in trying them out, whether a long time kombucha drinker in search of a slight variation, or a newbie, I'd say trust your gut on this one. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Cultured Beverages: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. It's likely water kefir. Have you ever tried Kevita? I like the lemon cayenne in that brand. I haven't spotted this beverage at TJ's, yet.

  2. The Kevita is loaded with sugar though, it disguises itself as Kombucha but it's really not healthy.

  3. This is an alternative to kombucha that has a less “funky” flavor- there isn’t a scoby needed to create the fermentation and therefore it’s also yeast free (kombucha is yeast based).
    Anyways, it’s just fermented flavored liquid. They need the juice to create the simple carbs to create the fermentation and bubbles. Kombucha doesn’t need 10% juice, they just add that much usually for flavor.
    At the end of the day a wide variety of fermented beverages and foods is proving time and again to be beneficial to gut health (and lots of info out there about how critical gut health is turning out to be for overall wellness)
    I make my own kombucha and love it so I won’t buy this myself but I’m sure there’s a customer for it

  4. If it's made with green tea is Jun Fermented beverage.


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