Asian Pear & Ginger Kombucha - Aldi
Has it really been a few weeks since I've reviewed an Aldi item? Time to fix that!
A year ago Aldi sold these Kombucha Wonder Drinks and I reviewed the black cherry version. It was pretty good, not great, but much better than I was expecting a fermented tea to taste and I easily finished off the bottle. Since then, kombucha's popularity has grown and it's become pretty mainstream. You can now buy several flavors of kombucha at one-stop convenience stores like Walmart and Target! Since I didn't quite fall in love with my first bottle I decided to grab another to see if a different flavor could win me over. (And see if I can better understand the overall appeal of this fermented food and beverage trend.)
This bottle is made of glass, which always makes a beverage feel more fancy than plastic, and the label looks exactly the same as the last flavor with a slight color scheme change to relate to this particular flavor combination. If any of you have been following this ever growing kombucha trend, you might have heard that there have been a few issues with the fermentation and shelf stability. Imagine the pressure inside a soda bottle when you shake it up, that's pretty much what happens with kombucha and when it gets to a certain point of pressure...CRACK goes the glass. I've mentioned my giant food backlog/hoard on the blog multiple times, and one of the things I had in my not-as-hoardy fridge was a bottle of that cherry kombucha I bought at Aldi. (It wasn't a year old! I'm not that bad) but it was maybe a month old and the pressure got too much for the glass and it broke getting kombucha everywhere. Now that was my own fault for not consuming it quickly enough, but it's something to keep in mind. This stuff becomes carbonated through the fermentation process, so when you do have it, especially when it's in a glass bottle, you want to drink it during the recommended time frame. Just a little FYI PSA for those of you looking to try kombucha who may not want to be scrubbing your fridge shelves like a maniac at 2 in the morning...
The cap twisted off with a satisfying "pssst," just like sodas and other carbonated beverages, and it smells like a fruity vinaigrette salad dressing. It reminds me of my favorite Panera salad, the Orchard Harvest. (Which had a cherry vinaigrette and sliced pears.) This stuff smells vinegar-like, with a hint of sweet pear and a hint of spicy ginger. Since ginger flavoring has been growing on my the last two years it actually smells quite pleasant, but it does smell like a salad dressing more than a beverage, which is only slightly off putting. (I mean I DO drink aged balsamic vinegar on a regular basis, straight up, to help with my stomach issues. So really this isn't bizarre at all for me.)
I took a sip, and it really wasn't that bad! It's more carbonated than I remember the cherry version being, but it has a much milder flavor. It's not as bold in-your-face-vinegary as it smells either! It tastes like seltzer water with ginger and pear with a splash of apple cider vinegar. It's tangy, sweet, slightly acidic, and very light with only a mild to moderate salad-dressing-like finish. It's not something you want to chug or knock back. This is the kind of drink you slowly sip and savor, and for what it is, it's not bad at all! I think I prefer the deeper berry notes of the cherry flavored version, but I can appreciate the lighter flavoring of the pear and the slight spice from the ginger. This is pretty refreshing!
So far neither of these flavors have fully converted me to the kombucha-side, and I won't drink it religiously, but I'm not going to turn my nose up at it either. I could see myself craving this tangy, carbonated, vinegar flavoring from time to time, and when I saw it returned this year I actually felt a little jolt of excitement. Even though I don't understand the obsession some people seem to have with kombucha, it's pretty neat stuff, and I'd say it's worth trying at least once in your lifetime. (Especially when it's cheap and in pretty glass bottles at Aldi.)