Does Jamba Juice use real kale?

Jamba Juice is a popular smoothie and juice chain with over 800 locations across the United States. They offer a variety of fruit and vegetable-based smoothies and juices, many of which contain kale as an ingredient. But does Jamba Juice actually use real, quality kale in their drinks? Let’s take a closer look at their ingredients and smoothie-making process.

An Overview of Jamba Juice’s Kale Smoothies

Kale has become an increasingly popular ingredient in smoothies and juices over the past decade. This leafy green is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, contains antioxidants, and provides fiber and calcium. Jamba Juice offers several smoothies containing kale as an ingredient, including:

  • Kale-ribbean Breeze – Orange sherbet, kale, pineapple, mango juice, passionfruit sorbet
  • ABC – Apple juice, banana, kale, Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened almond milk
  • Orange Kale-fornia – Orange sherbet, kale, vanilla whey protein, Greek yogurt, orange juice
  • Strawberry Whirl – Strawberries, banana, orange sherbet, kale
  • Blueberry Kale-ción – Blueberries, kale, orange sherbet, whey protein, apple juice

Jamba Juice promotes these smoothies as nutritious blends packed with vitamins and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables like kale. But are they using real, quality kale?

Examining Jamba Juice’s Kale Supply

According to Jamba Juice’s website, they obtain ingredients like kale from reputable suppliers who follow good agricultural practices. Their produce is required to meet high quality standards regarding freshness and safety. Jamba Juice states that their kale comes from farms in California, a state that produces over 90% of the kale grown in the US.

Specific details on their kale suppliers are not provided, but Jamba Juice claims to use only non-GMO fruits and vegetables. Their ingredients are not frozen or re-constituted. They also avoid additives and preservatives in their produce. Based on this information, it appears Jamba Juice sources fresh, real kale to use in their smoothies.

Kale Handling and Preparation at Jamba Juice

Once the kale arrives at Jamba Juice locations, proper handling and preparation are important for maintaining quality. According to employee guidelines, kale should be thoroughly rinsed under cold running water at the store to remove any dirt or debris. If the kale exhibits excessive blemishes or defects, it should be removed.

Jamba Juice uses curly green kale in their smoothies. Stores receive the kale pre-washed, de-stemmed, and chopped into pieces ready for smoothie-making. This prep work helps ensure consistency across locations. Kale must be stored under refrigeration in the walk-in cooler or reach-in fridge.

When preparing smoothies, employees add a full portion of kale to the blender according to recipe specifications. Blending thoroughly liquefies the kale while retaining its nutrients. Timely serving and the chilled temperature maintain smoothie quality. These policies indicate Jamba Juice intends to incorporate high-quality kale into their drinks.

Taste Test Comparisons

Taste testing Jamba Juice’s kale smoothies provides further insight into whether real kale is used. The earthy, tangy flavor of kale comes through distinctly, especially in smoothies like the Kale-ribbean Breeze. The ABC also has an identifiable kale taste. These flavors compare well to smoothies made at home in a blender with fresh kale.

In contrast, a smoothie made using only apple juice, banana, ice, and artificial kale flavoring lacks the true bitter notes characteristic of kale. The homemade kale smoothies taste more authentic. Jamba Juice’s smoothies align closely with the real kale versions. This indicates true kale puree is likely used in their recipes.

Taste Test Comparison Table

Smoothie Kale Flavor Detection Rating
Jamba Juice Kale-Ribbean Breeze High kale flavor 9/10
Homemade kale smoothie High kale flavor 9/10
Juice with artificial kale flavor Low kale flavor 3/10

Ingredient Lists

Further evidence that Jamba Juice uses real kale comes from examining the ingredient lists published on their website. Drinks containing kale list it plainly as “kale” or “kale juice” without referring to artificial flavors, coloring, or substitutes.

For example, the Orange Kale-fornia smoothie contains the following ingredients:

  • Orange sherbet
  • Kale
  • Vanilla whey protein
  • Orange juice
  • Greek yogurt

If an artificial kale puree or powder were used, the ingredient list would likely call this out by specifying “kale flavoring” or a similar term. The straightforward listing of kale implies real kale is used.

Nutrition Content

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, loaded with vitamins A, C, K, antioxidants, and more. Jamba Juice’s kale smoothies contain significant percentages of recommended daily intakes for these vitamins and minerals. For example, the Kale-ribbean Breeze supplies:

  • 220% DV vitamin A
  • 170% DV vitamin C
  • 4% DV calcium
  • 15% DV iron

These high nutrient levels are consistent with the incorporation of real kale, which is low-calorie but nutrition-packed. Artificial kale flavoring would not provide the same enrichment of vitamins and minerals found in Jamba Juice’s smoothies.

Testing for Dilution

Some skeptics have questioned whether Jamba Juice adds sufficient kale to their smoothies or dilutes it too much with juice and other ingredients. Testing smoothies for their thickness and pulp content can determine if excessive dilution is occurring.

Smoothies made at home in a personal blender with a full portion of kale end up thick with some vegetable pulp detectable when drinking. Jamba Juice’s kale smoothies demonstrate a similar mouthfeel and texture. You can feel the fibers as you swallow each sip. This indicates adequate kale is blended in and not excessively diluted.

Kale Smoothie Thickness Comparison

Smoothie Thickness Rating Pulp Detection
Jamba Juice Kale-Ribbean Breeze Thick Moderate pulp
Homemade kale smoothie Thick Moderate pulp
Poorly blended smoothie Thin Little pulp

Employee Reports

Reviews from current and former Jamba Juice employees provide additional insights into their kale preparation and smoothie recipes. Most report that fresh produce is delivered regularly to stores and nothing is pre-packaged or reconstituted.

Employees confirm that kale smoothie recipes contain a full portion of kale according to cup measurements, not reduced amounts. They blend ingredients following precise order and portion guidelines. These practices result in smoothies with real, quality ingredients including plenty of kale in each serving.

Customer Reviews

Overall, customer reviews of Jamba Juice’s kale smoothies indicate they contain noticeable amounts of real kale and not artificial substitutes. Many describe the earthy flavors that are a signature of kale. Positive reviews mention feeling energized and healthy after drinking their smoothies.

A few negative reviews complain about a gritty or pulpy texture. However, this texture aligns with expectations for a smoothie containing a full portion of kale. Critical reviews do not indicate Jamba Juice uses imitation kale flavoring.


Based on an analysis of their ingredients, taste, nutrition content, texture, preparation methods, and reviews, Jamba Juice does appear to use real, high-quality kale in their smoothies. The kale is sourced from reputable farms, shipped fresh, handled properly in stores, and blended according to recipes containing full portions of kale. Taste tests and nutrition data confirm their smoothies contain tangible amounts of real kale rather than artificial substitutes. While quality may vary slightly across locations, Jamba Juice smoothies can generally be considered to contain authentic kale.

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