Kombucha’s Caffeine Jitters

If 2010 was the year kombucha became a healthy household name, flowing freely from taps at Whole Foods stores and juice bars, 2012 promises big changes for fermentation nation. Kombucha is undergoing a radical makeover designed to make it, well—rad.

Once the domain of home-brewing hippies who sipped it out of Mason jars, kombucha is now showing up as the kind of product pitched to kids keen on staying up all night to party. Celestial Seasonings, the titanic maker of teas including the ultramellow Sleepytime line, is now marketing Kombucha Energy Shots as an extreme pick-me-up.

“You just shake and shoot—then feel the energy!” shouts the tiny, two-ounce bottle.

Though the Shots are gluten-free, vegan, and boast evaporated cane juice in place of refined sugar, they contain ingredients common to energy drinks like Red Bull, including guarana, ginseng, and inositol. (That last one is reportedly handy for cutting heroin and cocaine.) Kombucha Energy Shots also contain caffeine: The Pomegranate Xtreme flavor I tried contained 150 mg of caffeine, same as a cup and a half of coffee. The result: a six-hour boost, free of the amphetamine jolt I was expecting. Even so, I wish I'd had a mug of Sleepytime handy for the come-down.

Image source: CelestialSeasonings.com