Saturday, December 11, 2021

KÖE Fruit Forward Kombucha

KÖE Organic Kombucha - Gift 

If you're new here, I have a reaction to sucralose, which is a very commonly used artificial sweetener. A sip is fine, but a normal 12-16oz beverage containing the stuff can trigger vertigo that will not go away without medical intervention. Vertigo, for those lucky people who've never experienced it, causes a feeling of dizziness. This can range from mild annoyance to debilitating. For me, I was bedridden for over 24 hours while I attempted to "sleep it off," but I ended up in the ER where they finally gave me medicine that made it stop. 
Sucralose is in a LOT of products (Sparkling ICE beverages were the cause of my ER visit), so I avoid them like the plague. That said, A PR rep for this kombucha brand reached out and sent me a pack of all five flavors to try. So while I got these products for free, this is not a paid promotion, and I always say exactly what I think, so this is, like always, a honest review. These contain less than 2% of erythritol, and I am not a foodie scientist (I'll leave that to CandyHunting), but after reading this 2005 article about sucralose vs erythritol, I felt safe enough to give these a try. 

We have 5 flavors in total, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical, Lemon Lime, Raspeberyr Dragonfruit and Blueberry Ginger.  

Strawberry Lemonade: Sweet, fruity, and more juice-like than any kombucha I have ever had before. You can really tastes the strawberry puree, which I love, but it almost feels a little too strawberry heavy to be considered a "lemonade." I get some lemon tang, and fermented black tea, but strawberry is definitely the star of the show. Does it taste like a diet beverage? A little bit. It's tolerable for me, a known fake-sugar hater, but I could still taste that there was non-authentic sugar involved. 

Tropical: A mixture of pineapple and orange, and although the can shows guava, I don't really taste it. (But I do smell it!) The pineapple notes are sweeter than I expected, more like a really ripe fruit than a tart and tangy one. Overall, this tastes a lot like a tropical punch, but with a light fermented tea twist. This one in particular is fairly mild and non-kombucha-like, a great beginner-bucha for those just starting to get into it, and the tangy fruits hide the fake sweetener rather well. 

Lemon Lime: Citrus is always my go-to for seltzer, but not so much for kombucha. That said, this definitely sips more like a seltzer than it does as kombucha. I know the KÖE tagline is fruit-forward, but this is more like some kind of natural soda than it is a kombucha. This tastes a lot like Sprite, but with a very slight fermented twist. It's sweet, more juicy than it is zesty, and this flavor in particular hides the erythritol flavoring the best. If you like lemon lime beverages, this will definitely be the one for you. I really like it, but I find it being a little too sweet and soda-like for my sipping preferences. Probably a great item for people looking to cut back on Sprite or 7-Up-like sodas though.   


Blueberry Ginger:
 This is a flavor I have definitely had in kombucha form before, so it'll be the best comparison to normal kombucha. Like the others, this leans very sweet with a, I hesitate to say "spicy", so I'll say it has a ginger kick. It's not a strong, bold, ginger like most of the ginger-based kombuchas I've had, this is more mild and sweet. Like American ginger ale sodas, with a sweet blueberry base. It's jammy-leaning beverage, and like the lemon lime flavor, this leans more towards a natural soda of some kind than a kombucha. It also has a really lovely blueberry aftertaste. Again, I can tell that there is artificial sweetener involved, but it's not enough to turn me off from drinking the entire can. 

Raspberry Dragonfruit: Surprisingly, this was the most tart of the bunch. It's a bright, slightly unripe raspberry, and while I have had dragonfruit before, I don't feel confident enough to say that I can taste much of it. This is more raspberry to me than anything else, and while I like raspberry, I found this mixed nicely with other flavors. Like lemon lime and blueberry ginger. The tartness really helps to combat the artificial sweetener flavoring, which made this really drinkable for me, but as I've gotten older I realize I like reaching for tart and tangy beverages over sweet ones, so that might be a personal preference.

I drank one of these a day over the course of a week so that each flavor could truly shine, and because artificial sweeteners still scare me and I didn't want to risk a reaction. Thankfully, all is well! I am sensitive to fake sugars, and caffeine, and this contains both, so I did find that after two days of consecutive reviews I would develop a mild headache, which is rare for me. I don't get them very often, but it might be because I am so sensitive. It seems like most people out there can drink diet beverages with no problems at all, I am just not one of them.  

These fruit-focused beverages are more of a carbonated juice or natural soda than they are a kombucha, at least in terms of taste. I liked them for what they are, and it's nice to have some canned kombucha based beverages on the market, but I miss the bold almost vinegar-like tang of normal kombucha, so while I was happy to give these a try, they aren't the 'bucha for me. 

This is more-so a product for people just dipping their toes into the kombucha waters who don't care for the, sometimes, pungent flavors of the fermented beverage and want to count their calories. If you give these a try, let me know what you think in the comments down below.

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