How does SOMA’s probiotic count stack up against other fermented drinks, supplements, and foods?
Please see the table below to compare CFUs (colony-forming units) in various products. When a brand posts its CFU count, the table lists the brand specifically. Otherwise, the brand is listed generically. This is because, though the results are scientifically proven and indisputable, we don’t feel that a brand that is making the best kombucha they can and not advertising high probiotics doesn’t need to be called out. Any kombucha is better than most commercial sodas or energy drinks, and we want people to continue to choose a lower-CFU count kombucha over those products.
*It is interesting to note that this brand adds probiotics grown in a lab to their product. This could have 2 possible effects. 1) The bacteria added (C. Coagulans) are not native kombucha organisms, but are considered to be probiotic (healthy). 2) Because the bacteria are added at bottling, they haven’t done any fermenting. Many experts believe that some or most of the benefits of kombucha are the “nutrients” produced during fermentation. It’s unknown how much fermentation actually happened in these products. More on concerns about Kevita’s fermentation techniques here, and GT’s labeling here. And since we’re on the subject: this.
About the testing procedure: SOMA works with OMIC lab, our neighbor in NW Portland and one of the top food science labs in the country, for our CFU testing. CFU stands for “Colony-Forming Units” - this is the count of living, active organisms (able to reproduce using binary fission under the controlled conditions of the test). Counting colony-forming units requires culturing the microbes and counting only viable cells, in contrast with microscopic examination which counts all cells, living or dead. To perform this test, the scientists at OMIC take a few drops of product and lay them out on several petri dishes, then allowing several days for the living cells in the sample to reproduce, then counting the number of colonies that have developed based on those cells. They then extrapolate the results to be expressed in terms of “CFU per gram”. The CFU test will not determine the type of organism (that requires genetic sequencing, something SOMA also does to make sure no un-helpful species end up in our brews, and to help control over-carbonation), but is still an important data point under the assumption that most if not all kombucha bacteria and yeast are beneficial, even if only to each other.
What you can do: a CFU test costs an average of only $15! This means that this very important metric can be ascertained by anyone with access to a food science lab or a mailbox. As you can see from the table above, the natural foods industry abounds with false claims – of all the testing we do, we’re especially excited by the accessibility and importance of this one. We sincerely hope that your favorite local brand of kombucha blows SOMA out of the water in its CFU content, and would like to pay for your test to find out. Please find a local lab and get the test done, then send us the results and the bill (we’ll pay up to $15). You can also drop a 100mL sample in the mail to us at SOMA Kombucha, 10707 N Lombard St, Portland OR 97203 and we’ll get it tested and let you know what we find. Please include your email address in the package.
Actual lab reports here: (samples on the reports that aren’t mentioned above are our various products in various stages of fermentation).