In the past five years Kombucha, a fermented tea drink rich in probiotics and antioxidants, has become one of the most popular products in the health food market. It’s scientifically proven to improve digestion, inflammation, and weight loss while reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly cancer. In test-tube studies, Kombucha’s high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants prevented the growth and subsequent spread of cancerous cells. But besides the drink’s various health benefits, it’s best used for hangovers. Drink too much at Sinners and have a 9am tutorial? No problem – just chug a bottle of Kombucha and I promise you’ll feel completely fine within 10 minutes. The only issue is that Kombucha can be expensive, especially in St Andrews. So, to make things easier for students I walked around town, bought every brand of Kombucha I could find, and taste-tested each one with my friends. We made a list of which brands had the best quality to price ratio. These were the results!
The best Kombucha in St Andrews can be found at Birchwood on South Street, no question. They offer two brands: Left Field Kombucha and You + I Kombucha, as well as a few flavours on tap. These options offer the best flavors including Yunnan Black Tea, Sencha Green Tea, Oolong, Darjeeling, original, and ginger. I highly recommend the You + I’s Original Kombucha for people who are unfamiliar with the drink and want to try it for the first time. The problem with these brands is that they’re incredibly expensive. One small bottle of Kombucha is a little more than £3.00 with a student discount.
Their Kombucha on tap is £9.50/liter and is only worth your money if you drink the equivalent of several bottles a week. The great thing about Birchwood’s Kombucha on tap is that you can bring your own refillable liter bottle. But overall, I wouldn’t pay their prices on a regular basis. Their Kombucha is never on sale and it can be expensive if you’re on a budget.
Holland & Barrett
Holland & Barrett is another store with a great selection of Kombucha. It’s not widely advertised but the store has over three brands to choose from and all are much cheaper than Birchwood. Their brands include Remedy, Lo. Bro’s, and Captain Kombucha. While I stand by my statement that Birchwood has the best quality in town, H&B has the best prices. Most of their Kombucha brands go on sale for weeks at a time. Hot tip: the product will go on sale in the next few days if you find a white card behind the Kombucha price tag on the shelf.
After taste testing all three brands, I highly recommend not buying Lo. Bro’s. It tastes like sparkling water rather than Kombucha and has very little flavour. Remedy’s not too bad but Ginger is the only flavour worth buying. I recommend you go for either the Original or Ginger Captain Kombucha. They’re both pleasant to drink and are normally on sale. One bottle of Captain Kombucha is around £2.50 with a student discount (not on sale). I would argue this brand is the best bang for your buck out of all the ones in town.
Sainsbury’s been known in the past to carry different brands of Kombucha but sadly things have changed. They only carry one flavour, elderflower and lemon, in an extremely large bottle and it tastes like extra sweet lemon tonic water. It was £1.70 but I would only recommend it as a mixer.
Luvians has the same Kombucha brands as Birchwood but more flavours of You + I Kombucha. These flavours include Original, Ginger, Lavender Lemonade, and Coffee. Unfortunately, Luvians was closed every time I tried to buy their Kombucha, but I assume it’s either the same price or slightly more expensive than Birchwood.
At the end of the day, if you care about price and quality, I recommend Captain Kombucha. But if you have no preference on price, Birchwood is the way to go.