In 2018, Kombucha Is Getting Big—and Craftier

Photo: Pilot
Here's a fizzy paradox for you: 2018 may be the year gut-health-friendly kombucha becomes more mass and more niche than ever. The once-obscure fermented tea drink is now thoroughly mainstream, and with its newfound popularity comes a coterie of small, craft brewers dedicated to next-level, seasonally driven 'booch.

The numbers on kombucha's growth are stunning. According to Square, kombucha sales are up by more than 12 times from three years ago, and one research firm says the category is already worth an annual $600 million (and counting). That potential may be why small upstarts such as Health-Ade, a Los Angeles-based company that started out selling its brew at farmers' markets in 2012, is expanding thanks to a $7 million cash infusion—or why Peet's Coffee recently invested $7.5 million in Revive Kombucha. And PepsiCo's 2016 acquisition of Kevita means you'll be soon able to sip probiotics almost everywhere soda products are sold.

At the same time, kombucha is more of a speciality drink than before. Much as the craft beer and artisanal coffee movements put product quality into the spotlight, there’s now a lot more passion for the artistry that goes into creating kombucha with new purveyors coming to market. Regional 'booch brewers from Brooklyn's Pilot to Lion Heart of Portland, OR, are creating inventive flavors with a local twist. And it's not just a coastal thing, either: In New Orleans, there's Big Easy Bucha's Voodoo Brew, which incorporates Southern flavors such as chicory and vanilla coffee. Farther north in Pennsylvania, Sole makes an oak-aged blend of blackberries, blueberries, hibiscus, and ginger.

Whether people gravitate toward the fermented, fizzy stuff for the taste or for the gut health, the category is more desirable than ever. Expect to see kombucha’s probiotic presence permeating your grocery store fridge aisle. If you're not already on the 'booch bandwagon, this may be your best opportunity to drink up.

What else is going to be huge next year? We've picked 18 for '18—check out all of our Wellness Trend predictions here.

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