I’m sorry that I suck so much. You think I like being this way? Come on, my brotha. You think I like being the guy who totally gushes over a soda born in an air-conditioned conference room and sold exclusively at Taco Bell? It officially does not get any lamer. I want to be the guy who champions those few beverages that set out on their own, daring to forge new marketplaces, whose very roots are steeped in cultures whose traditions go back thousands of years.
Kombucha Wonder Drink is such a beverage. It’s a combination of organic tea and kombucha culture, which imparts a fizzy, carbonated texture. Kombucha is actually a mushroom, but they don’t tell you that anywhere on the bottle. They do say that kombucha is said to have mystical healing qualities, but they’re vague on the specifics there, too.
I tried all three flavors: Himalayan blend, Oriental Blend, and Asian Pear Ginger Blend. I liked Oriental the best. The flavor is based on oolong tea, which was a great deal smoother than the green tea of the Himalayan. As far as the pear/ginger blend goes, the pear was so subtle that it got lost in the mix, and the ginger added a slight peppery aftertaste that was only interesting the way that science is interesting, which is to say: one paragraph’s worth of interesting, but nothing more.
One aside I need to make is that the smell of the tea and the throat-tickling tingliness of the kombucha culture together brought back long-buried memories of a strange ritual from my youth. In high school my friend Steve and I had this thing we did to pass the lazy afternoons. We would take a tub of dry Lipton ice tea mix, make sure it was sealed tightly, shake it up really good so that it got all smoky, then lift up the edge of the lid and inhaled deeply. This left us coughing and sputtering with a dirt cloud of tea pasted into our mouths. It was totally fun. Look, our parents locked their liquor cabinets and it sucks being a teenager in suburbia, so I make no excuses.
Kombucha is not like any other drink I’ve had, so there’s that. It’s a very interesting combination of tea and carbonation, and I think it’s original enough that everyone should check it out at least once. But do I love it, and will I ever drink it again? Will I champion it? No, probably not, and no way, and that touches on some really deep stuff about why I’m so obsessed with beverages, and why it’s so important to me to always be trying out new products. I think I’m looking for that One True Beverage. I’m looking for what I call “returnability.” That one beverage that I can define my life around. The drink that I always have in the fridge and never get bored of. If someone ever asks me what my favorite beverage is, I want to be able to answer definitively, without hesitation: “Sit down and I will fucking tell you some serious shit about my favorite beverage.”
But I can’t do that right now; I don’t have an answer. I like a handful of drinks pretty good, a plethora just OK, and a bunch not so much. Until that day when my journey comes to its delicious end, I will continue to suckle on the teat of hope.