Suja Berry is one of four kombucha’s currently produced by the Suja juice company. While the company history isn’t one-hundred percent clear on the website, it appears to be a cold press juice company that has made the lateral expansion to kombuchas (and drinking vinegars!) rather recently. When I saw this new entrant on the shelf at my local grocery store, I just had to pick up a few. I also brought home Peach and Ginger, which I’ll review shortly. But for now, back to Suja Berry:
The Kombucha Review
The bottle contains the normal sediment that we expect from kombucha. But despite sitting undisturbed in the refrigerator for several days before opening, it pours very cloudy. It is also completely still, with no evidence of carbonation. Maybe that makes sense for something produced by a juice company, but it is a departure from most kombuchas on the market today. My homemade kombucha is more carbonated straight from the brewing vessel before any bottle conditioning. The color is an inviting off-pink that invokes thoughts of grapefruit or lemonade that I’ll be looking for upon tasting.
The aroma is surprisingly faint. I can vaguely place the raspberry but not much else. If I inhale strongly, I can pick up some yeasty notes.
The first taste brings a strong tart bite that hits in the middle and back of the palate and immediately sends me back to the glass for another sip. I rather enjoy tart beverages and I’m glad to see that suja doesn’t shy away from this character. I’m getting some of the lemonade notes. There doesn’t appear to be any citrus on the ingredient list, so perhaps this comes from the tartness paired with a pulpy texture. There is a subtle berry flavor in the middle but it’s overpowered by a sugary sweetness and quickly fades to a lingering tartness that carries through a long finish.
The mouthfeel is thin, with little to no detectable tannins. The overall texture is dominated by a velvety feel that I associate with crushed fruit skins and pulp, most likely from the 6% added juice. All-in-all, I didn’t particularly care for Suja Berry insomuch as it seems more reminiscent of lemonade than of kombucha. But if that makes kombucha more palatable to juice drinkers, I consider it a good product with a definite place in the marketplace. If you’re a juice drinker that is curious about kombucha, or if you know one, this could be a good place to start.
The Label / Branding Review
Suja’s labeling is straightforward and very well aligned with their overall brand identity as a producer of natural juices. The label is relatively plain for a kombucha (a good thing, in my opinion) and the text on the front is quite readable, even on a crowded grocery shelf.
The textured hexagonal background beneath the flavor box pulls the eye downward from the brand logo and name to the bottom of the bottle where they mention probiotic cultures and USDA organic certification, things important to their customers.
With the exception of the mention of ‘adaptogenic schizandra’ (more on that later), they’ve done a nice job with the front label.
The side label focuses on additional keywords for health-conscious consumers, the necessary warning not to shake the bottle, and a short exposition that reinforces the brand’s natural claims.
The pink color of the labels calls up thoughts of pink lemonade, which the kombucha delivers. In that sense, the labels have done their job. The overall design of the labels are well conceived and well executed.
The claims made on the labels definitely test the boundaries of truthiness. First off, it takes quite a bit of hubris to claim they have the secret to “Making Great Kombucha” after just a month or two on the market. While I’ve definitely had worse, I think the jury is still out on whether Suja makes great kombucha. Secondly, prominent reference to adaptogenic schizandra and holistic healing makes it clear that the company is more interested in trendy flashwords than in including meaningful information on their label. Definitely some snake oil there.
Overall, I gave Suja Berry Kombucha 6.4 out of 10 points. Fans of pressed juices may find it to be a nice transitional drink but regular kombucha drinkers will likely be disappointed.