Humm Kombucha - A Dietitian's Honest Review
This is Humm Kombucha! And it’s big claim to fame, is that it’s lower in sugar than other brands like GTs, Kevita and Health Ade. But how good is it really? Well, in this article we’re going to put Humm under the Essential Stacks spotlight - as we look at everything from probiotic count to sugar levels - to see if it is actually worth trying.
Table of Contents
So before we get into it, I just want to say that like all product reviews here at Essential Stacks we receive zero compensation or incentive from the company we are reviewing, which means we are completely unbiased.
And as you’ll see in this review, we don’t hold anything back when analyzing companies in the digestive health space.
And that’s because Our mission here at Essential Stacks is to help you discover what TRULY works and what doesn’t for good gut health.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into our findings.
1. Who’s behind Humm?
So Humm was founded in 2008, by good friends Michelle Mitchell and Jamie Danek.
As legend has it, they were hanging out one day, and Michelle offered Jaime a glass of her HOMEBREWED kombucha.
Jaime was completely blown away by the taste, saying “This is amazing. I can sell this to everyone”.
Anyways, like with most good startup stories, they started small, brewing kombucha at home and selling it door to door…. as well as at the local Bend Farmer’s Market in Oregon.
At this point they were known as Kombucha Mama. But in 2014 they rebranded to the name Humm, as they wanted a more inclusive name.
Since then, Humm has become a hit with consumers, driven in no small part by their focus on delivering LOW and ZERO SUGAR kombucha lines.
And to help them scale up their manufacturing and distribution to keep up with demand, they have taken some Outside investment from private equity group, VMG Partners.
But as of the writing of this article, that amount is Tiny when COMPARED to their competitors' capital raising efforts.
In fact, Humm has in total raised just $19.7 million USD.
For us here at Essential Stacks, we LOVE to see this, because it usually means the founders remain firmly in charge of the vision of the company and the quality of their products, while ensuring there is enough runway left for their expansion.
2. What products does Humm sell?
Humm has expanded its product range over the years and now has SEVERAL distinct categories.
I’ll quickly run through them, so they make sense, and also show you what we’re focusing on in this article.
- So first up, they have their FLAGSHIP kombucha line, which they call their ORIGINAL KOMBUCHA, and of course this is the focus of our article today.
- Next up, they have their Sugar free kombucha range - they call it HUMM ZERO. And basically this is kombucha that has been prepared in a special way….For starters, they brew it until ALL the sugar has been eaten up during fermentation. Second, they add non-fermentable plant-based flavors and sweeteners - like monk fruit, as opposed to fruit juices which contain sugar and can ferment.
- Lastly, Humm has a WHOLE 30 diet approved line of kombuchas. These sit somewhere in-between their Original and Zero lines in terms of sugar content and TYPE of sugar. And of course they AVOID using any ingredients that are NOT Whole 30 approved. All of this means their Whole 30 line has…No added sugars like cane sugar - which is something you DO find in the Original line. And no natural sweeteners like monk fruit - which is something you DO find in the Zero line.
Anyways, enough about these new products.
It’s time to focus on Humm’s original kombucha line!
3. Comparing Humm vs other brands like GTs
In the rest of this article, I want us to take the gloves off and really shine a spotlight on what’s actually inside Humm’s kombucha, so we can answer 4 questions…
- How well is it made?
- Does it taste good?
- Is it in fact good for you?
- Is it worth your money?
Of course, to make this analysis even more useful, we’ll also look at how Humm compares to OTHER kombucha brands.
Naturally, to make this comparison FAIR we need to make sure that we’re comparing apples with apples.
And after a bit of research we found that all major brands have 1 flavor in common with Humm's, which is GINGER.
So in other words, we’re going to compare ginger with ginger.
In this analysis when we’re comparing brands on things like flavoring agents used, sugar content etc, we’ll be referencing Humm's GINGER-LEMON Kombucha, which I have here.
4. How well is Humm kombucha made?
Given the love Michelle and Jamie have for all things kombucha, it is no surprise that Humm retains a largely traditional approach to making kombucha, which is great to see.
But we found a few things interesting when we analyzed their operations, as I’ll walk you through now.
(i) Brew vessel
In terms of how they BREW their kombucha, Humm started out using GALLON-SIZED glass jars back when they were called Kombucha Mama - which is similar to how GTs and Health Ade brew their kombucha.
But unlike them, Humm has since moved up to LARGER SIZE batches, and is doing it using kegs.
Some might argue this is moving away from their CRAFT BREWING roots, but it would be arguable that quality control would remain strong at this size.
And more to the point, it seems to us they are using a keg-based system to create what we call a closed fermentation system.
This is interesting, so I’ll quickly explain it.
Basically what Humm appears to be doing is limiting the interaction of the OUTSIDE WORLD with their kombucha and SCOBY.
With the main aim likely being to Limit alcohol production - something they and many other kombucha brands have had issues with in the past.
Some might say this goes AGAINST the traditional fermentation process, where kombucha brewers simply cover their jars with a porous cloth AND may impact the potential growth of any good bacteria or yeast.
But the reality is we can NOT say anything for certain, since Humm’s production process remains a trade secret.
(ii) Fermentation time
Now what we really found interesting is how long Humm ferments their kombucha...or rather the lack of information about it.
You see, in the kombucha world it is quite common to proudly tell others how long you brew for.
For example, GTs and Remedy both write on their websites “We brew for 30 days”. While others like Health Ade are happy to say “We brew for a few weeks”.
But Humm...well unfortunately they do not disclose anything.
Instead, they have decided to simply say “We have developed a proprietary kombucha fermentation process"
We find this hard to reconcile with Humm’s values of “complete transparency”.
Although, we want to give Humm the benefit of the doubt here, and argue they are staying quiet on this, because they are still trying to PATENT their brewing process.
(iii) Brewing process
Now, when it comes to how Humm BREWS the tea that goes into their kombucha, well, they’re doing it fairly similar to everyone else. Which means they’re using a combination of organic black tea and organic green tea.
Now, in terms of how they PREPARE their tea so it can be fermented, Humm is doing it similar to most of their competitors...BUT with a TWIST.
That means they’re adding standard cane sugar to their tea, but ALSO a splash of white grape juice.
Although the sugar is largely just fuel for the fermentation process and most of it will be eaten up during fermentation, it is nice to see them adding in Real fruit juices at this stage - which is SOMEWHAT similar to how GTs uses kiwi fruit juice to prepare their teas for fermentation.
(iv) Post-brewing process
Okay, so the next big thing we want to look at is how Humm treats their kombucha AFTER it has been brewed.
And from our research we were happy to see that Humm has stuck true to the traditional kombucha brewing process. That means they don’t pasteurize, filter or dilute their kombucha.
And while most good quality kombucha brands follow Humm’s lead here, the same can’t be said about 2 of their biggest competitors.
To find out more about them, check out our free Kombucha Brands Comparison tool.
Finally, let’s look at how Humm FLAVORS their kombucha ONCE it has been brewed - focusing specifically on their ginger-lemon kombucha.
As you can see here, it is flavored with organic ginger juice, organic lemon juice, and interestingly also organic apple juice, as well as natural flavors from plant based ingredients.
Obviously it is great to see the use of organic juices, but a little strange to see apple juice added in, as well as undisclosed natural flavors.
If you look at their top competitors - being GTs and Health Ade - neither of them resort to these last 2 flavorings.
But we think we know why Humm is doing this.
For starters, the apple juice might help balance out the flavor profile and make it more palatable for mainstream consumers.
And secondly, the natural flavors might be needed to add flavor to the kombucha, since it is lower in sugar than both GTs and Health Ade.
So we can’t necessarily say one is better than the other. Instead, it starts to come down to YOUR preferences.
5. Does Humm kombucha taste good?
Okay, so I think it’s time for a QUICK BREAK. And I bet you’re wondering… “Hey Richelle, tell us what you think of the taste?”.
I hear you! So let’s pour a glass of Humm’s Ginger-Lemon Kombucha and give it a try.
So the biggest thing I notice is how Humm tastes like a GTs-Health Ade lovechild!
And what I mean by that, is…
- It has the real kombucha flavor in there, no doubt due to the fact it is fully raw & unpasteurized, like GTs.
- It packs a lemon punch on TOP of the ginger, kind of like Health Ade.
And while it delivers a flavor RICHER than GTs, it is not quite as flavorful as Health Ade.
And both of these points would make sense since: Humm uses MORE flavoring agents than GTs, such as apple juice and natural flavors. And when compared to Health Ade - it doesn’t have quite as much SUGAR.
6. How healthy is Humm kombucha?
So we’ve already touched on a few things that relate to the HEALTHINESS of Humm's kombucha.
But now let’s go even deeper to find out whether Humm's kombucha is really good for us or not.
So I want to cut straight to the chase here, and look at the PROBIOTICS inside Humm’s Kombucha. After all, these are perhaps the number one reason people are drinking kombucha these days
So in 1 bottle of Humm, you’ll find approximately 2 billion CFUs of probiotics.
And given the benchmark from the world-leading International Scientific Association for Probiotics & Prebiotics is 1 billion CFUs, Humm is delivering a solid dose.
Type of probiotics
Now in terms of the types of probiotics in Humm's kombucha...well as you can see here, Humm's probiotics come from 1 type of bacteria, being NON-GMO Bacillus Subtilis.
The specific strain of B Subtilis in Humm is not listed - so we can’t tell you too much about the quality of it.
And again it has us wondering...why is Humm not being transparent, ESPECIALLY when their competitors are?
For example, GTs, Health Ade and EVEN Kevita, ALL list the specific strains of probiotics they add to their kombuchas.
You can find this info on the label, their website, & pretty much everywhere.
And in the case of Humm, for example, if they are using the DE111 strain of B Subtilis - which is a fantastically well-researched and clinically studied strain, they should be yelling it from the rooftops!
Anyways, we want to try and give you some idea of the Potential quality of the probiotic in Humm, so I will explain the benefits of the B Subtilis family in general.
So in terms of ACID RESISTANCE, B Subtilis will likely stand up well to the LOW PH or HIGHLY ACIDIC environment of both kombucha and your stomach.
Meaning it will likely make its way to your GI tract.
It should also be EASILY TOLERATED by most people.
Especially, since recent evidence suggests that B Subtilis is part of the normal gut microbiota in us humans.
And perhaps most interesting, this probiotic is fairly STABLE at room temperature.
Meaning that by the time you go to drink your kombucha, most of the probiotics should still be alive and kicking.
All things considered, Humm's kombucha contains a good probiotic - but how good...well it’s impossible to say without Humm sharing strain specific information with us.
Humm's probiotics vs competitor brands
Now with that out of the way, let’s see how Humm's COMPETITORS COMPARE on the PROBIOTIC front.
And to make this fair, we’ll standardize the serving size to 12oz or 355mils.
So with this standardization, we can see Humm offers roughly 1.71 billion CFUs for this amount, and this is…
- More than 3 times the amount in Remedy kombucha
- More than 2 times the amount in Health Ade
- BUT slightly less than Kevita
- And a whole lot less than the leading kombucha brand, GTs - which has nearly 4 TIMES as much probiotics per ounce or per mil, than Humm
In other words, Humm delivers a good probiotic dose, in line with most of the market, but NOTHING close to GTs.
Now, let’s look at the DARKER side of kombucha and analyze the POTENTIALLY bad stuff you will find in Humm's kombucha; being alcohol, caffeine and sugar.
Yes, there is some alcohol in kombucha, including in Humm’s line.
But that’s totally understandable given it is a by-product of the natural fermentation process.
Thankfully over the years, Humm, along with the other leading brands, have FINE-TUNED their manufacturing and fulfilment processes, such that this amount is UNDER 0.5% alcohol.
So as long as you’re fine with trace amounts of alcohol, there’s NOTHING WRONG with Humm’s kombucha range.
Now, what about CAFFEINE? After all, we are talking about a tea based product.
Well, on Humm’s website they proudly say that you’ll find just 14 mg of caffeine PER 8 fluid oz or 236 mils.
But given a bottle of Humm is actually 14oz or 415 mils, the caffeine amount you’ll ACTUALLY consume, will be higher.
In fact, if you drink a whole bottle, you’ll get closer to 25mg of caffeine.
Now with that said, it is still a LOT LESS caffeine than you’d find in an equivalent serving of coffee.
To put Humm in context, most of their competitors deliver around 5-15mg per bottle, with the exception of Kevita, which packs a WHOPPING 70mg or so in each bottle.
So on the caffeine front, Humm sits in the middle range.
Lastly, what about SUGAR? Well, as we saw earlier, Humm is intent on delivering a LOWER sugar kombucha to the market.
So if we look at Humm’s Ginger-Lemon kombucha, we can see just 9 grams or slightly over 2 teaspoons of sugar is expected to REMAIN in 1 bottle of their kombucha when you drink it.
If you standardize the serving size against its competitors to 12oz or 355mils, you can see Humm is VERY LOW in sugar, coming in at just EIGHT GRAMS of sugar.
By comparison for THIS serving size…
- GTs Synergy Ginger kombucha has 9 grams of sugar
- Health Ade’s Ginger-Lemon kombucha has 10 grams
- And Kevita’s Ginger kombucha has 13 grams
What we found interesting though, is that on Humm’s product page for their Ginger Lemon kombucha they write in large font “31% LESS SUGAR THAN THE LEADING KOMBUCHA BRAND”.
Now given the leading brand is GTs, this doesn’t make sense. So how is Humm getting to this figure? Where have they likely gone wrong?
Well, from our research, we believe they are comparing the sugar content in their 14 oz or 415 mils bottle, which is 9 grams…... to the sugar content in GTs 16.2 oz or 480 mils bottle, which is 12 grams.
Meaning they are comparing apples with oranges.
7. Is Humm kombucha good value for money?
FINALLY, let’s look at price...after all, kombucha is one of the priciest drinks you’ll find in the grocery store!
So at the time of publishing this article, we found Humm’s Ginger-Lemon Kombucha typically retails for $3.50 per bottle.
Meanwhile, almost ALL of Humm's competitors come in slightly cheaper, with some even going as low as $3...hello Kevita!
So what we’re saying here, is that in the kombucha world, Humm is one of the
Most expensive mainstream brands on the market ESPECIALLY when you take into account it is a smaller serving size than ALL of its major competitors... in GTs, Kevita and Health Ade.
In fact, if we standardize serving size again, we can see that on a per oz or per mils basis, Humm is actually as expensive as Health Ade.
Our conclusion on Humm
So we’ve been on a bit of a journey. And along the way we’ve seen that Humm is ALL-IN on kombucha, and passionately pursuing a Low sugar future for the kombucha market.
And when it comes to their ORIGINAL kombucha line, we saw there are some things we like about it, such as the use of organic juices and some things we believe could be improved to bring it closer to the standards of industry-leading GTs - namely transparency in their fermentation period & probiotic strain usage, as well as in their marketing claims.
For us here at Essential Stacks, Humm remains a good kombucha brand if you’re looking for a low sugar or sugar-free kombucha.
Compare all the kombucha brands
If you want to look at our FREE kombucha brands comparison tool, which analyzes the QUALITY of all the top selling kombuchas brands, including their exact probiotic count, sugar content and more, check out the link in the description below.
And as I mentioned at the start of this article, we have no affiliations with any of the kombucha brands, so it is 100% independent and, should save you some time.
An evidence hierarchy is followed to ensure conclusions are formed off of the most up-to-date and well-designed studies available. We aim to reference studies conducted within the past five years when possible.
- Systematic review or meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Randomized controlled trials
- Controlled trials without randomization
- Case-control (retrospective) and cohort (prospective) studies
- A systematic review of descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method studies
- A single descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method study
- Studies without controls, case reports, and case series
- Animal research
- In vitro research