Photo | Courtesy Wild Tonic
Wild Tonic is not a flavored beer like hard iced teas, but a real fermented tea, known as jun kombucha, made from green tea and honey.
Many of you have probably seen, or even tried, one of the different versions of the “hard” iced teas now on the market. Twisted Tea, Best Damn Hard Tea, Mike’s Harder Iced Tea and others are actually flavored malt beverages, not real tea, although most of them do a very good job of tasting much like (very sweet) tea, with a kick.
For the most part, I like tea when I want tea and a beer when I want beer, so those hard iced teas have never been of much interest to me. Recently, however, I came across a different type of craft brew called Wild Tonic at the “99 Beers on the Lawn” festival in Daphne, which made me rethink my teas.
Despite being featured at a beer festival, Wild Tonic is not a flavored beer like the hard iced teas, but a real fermented tea, known as jun kombucha, made from green tea and honey. Not being a tea aficionado, I had never heard of jun kombucha (or even regular kombucha, which is also a thing), but it is evidently a traditional drink that goes back perhaps as many as 2,000 years in Asia and is reported to have great medicinal value.
According to the guy pouring Wild Tonic at the festival, an added benefit is that it will not give you a hangover, because it is fermented from honey instead of sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). I’m not sure if this is true, as I didn’t sample nearly enough Wild Tonic to give myself a hangover, but it certainly would be nice.
In addition to (allegedly) not giving you a hangover, jun kombucha is also reported to have many healthy attributes, including providing a dose of healthy bacteria that’s good for your gut. The organic honey used in the making of Wild Tonic is also full of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Many of the other ingredients that go into Wild Tonic, such as zinfandel grapes and such herbs as mint and rosemary, are locally sourced from Wild Tonic’s sister organization, Eagle Mountain Orchards, both of which are located in Sedona, Arizona.
There are currently five Wild Tonic flavors — Blueberry Basil, Mango Ginger, Tropical Turmeric, Raspberry Goji Rose and Hoppy Buzz. All are gluten-free, 100 calories (per eight-ounce serving) and 5.6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Unlike the (overly) sweet hard ice teas, Wild Tonic tastes like tea, with hints of different flavors, a touch of sweetness and just the most subtle amount of carbonation. I enjoyed the blueberry, which was the sweetest, and the raspberry, which had very floral notes. It is an entirely different taste than either beer or wine, and takes getting used to, but grows on you.
Wild Tonic was founded in 2015 and has experienced phenomenal growth in a short period of time for a craft brew, now available coast to coast, mainly at groceries and cafés that feature organically produced goods. It is currently the only hard kombucha on the market, and is available in our area at all Fresh Market locations. I also found bottles available at the Piggly Wiggly in Fairhope and even one style on tap at LoDa Bier Garten. It is not cheap — a 16-ounce bottle will run you over $6 at the grocery store — but if you are looking for something different, and maybe even good for you, I recommend you give Wild Tonic a try.