5 Reasons Why Homemade Kefir Soda Pop Is Better Than Kombucha Tea

September 9, 2009 · 103 comments

IMG_3697

Before I tell you why I love Homemade Kefir Soda more than Kombucha Tea, first I’ll tell you what else is coming soon…

More Kefir Soda Pop posts are in the works:

  • How to make kefir soda pop. There are other recipes out there, but I need to post mine just so I have it recorded and don’t forget exactly how I make it, how the family likes it after trying some different variations, and how I keep it simple – I have to have simpleUPDATE – here it is: HOW to make kefir soda pop, WHY make kefir soda pop, and how does it taste?
  • Soon I’ll be posting the results of my kitchen chemistry experiment, where I find the answer to the question that I’m sure has been nagging all of you for months and months:  “How much alcohol is really in kefir soda pop?”  Many have speculated, but I want to know for sure, that’s just the twisted sort of mind you’re dealing with here. I’ll also tell you in this post why I had to know. IMG_3698 UPDATE:  follow the link above for the post with the results!

You’ll need to know this before you make your kefir soda – where to get kefir grains

Now, here are 5 Reasons Why I love my homemade kefir soda pop more than kombucha tea:

(I only make kefir soda now and haven’t made the kombucha tea in months.)

  1. Kombucha tea is so inconsistent. One time it might be sweet and taste like apple pop, then the next time it would taste like vinegar.  This would turn the kids off so they wouldn’t try it at all.
  2. Kefir soda ferments in only 24 hours (compared to many days for Kombucha), and takes a lot less steps to make.  Even bottling is easy.
  3. We just like the taste better. Kefir soda tastes like a not-as-sweet pop – enough that the kids and I love it, but not so sweet that I don’t want them to have it.  Once bottled the kids are all over it since it’s fizzy like a “real” pop.
  4. There is no Kombucha “baby” to figure out what to do with after each batch.  Yes, it’s fun sharing with friends, but it gets to be kind of a pain, and I felt guilty not doing something more with it than burying it in the garden.  (If your kefir grains multiply, you may still need to do something with them, but mine haven’t done that yet, which I’ve read is still just fine.)
  5. Kombucha is beneficial in some mysterious yet wonderful way.  Kefir soda is beneficial because it’s a probiotic/lacto-fermented beverage that fills your gut with good bacteria – it’s easier to wrap my brain around this and tell others about it without sounding hokey.  (Even though I do believe in the benefits of Kombucha, and if you drink both, that’s even better!)

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Which one do you like better, and why?

DON’T FREAK OUT if you haven’t begun making either of these yet.  This traditional foods/REAL foods thing takes time.  If you’re new at this, start with my Rookie Tips, and be sure to read this post if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

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  • { 100 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Amy September 9, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Just got my own grains and need some help in figuring out the best way to make them fizzy! Can’t wait to see your recipe.

    Reply

    2 Betsy September 9, 2009 at 5:12 am

    I love both kombucha and water kefir! That’s an interesting comparison, though. I’ll be interested to hear of your water kefir techniques – I just plop mine in a clean mason jar and stick it in the fridge, and I think it’s less consistent than my kombucha, lol.

    Reply

    3 Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up September 9, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I definitely like water kefir more than kombucha! It’s easier to make, and you can flavor it easier as well. And it has a much sweeter and light taste then kombucha. I just need to get me some real ‘soda’ bottles sometime!

    *and Amy – the fizz will disappear a bit if it’s refrigerated. Usually warming to room temp will help a bit. Also, how are you brewing? If you use a lid instead of a cloth and rubberband, that’s supposed to help. Just tighten the lid for a bit more fizz. (although not all the way tight!) Or I’ve also heard that a longer ferment helps – just keep feeding the culture some sugar every couple of days.

    M first try with them – http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/2009/07/try-it-tuesday-water-kefir-kefir-soda.html

    Reply

    4 Katie September 9, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I’ve never had either, though I’ve read a bit about them. Honestly, I’m a bit turned off on making them, it’s another time consuming and complicated thing, it seems, and sometimes that really is an important factor… even where nutrition is concerned. I make bread, and yogurt and cook all sorts of healthy meals, but sometimes I just have to draw the line. However, the kefir soda is much more interesting to me than the tea in that I can envision everyone in my family drinking it, not just me. So I’m really looking forward to reading your recipe post, and also, finding out about the alcohol, which is really important to me. You may just convince me to try it!

    Reply

    5 Kim June 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Katie,
    Making water kefir is much simpler and less time-consuming than making bread. It is super easy to do! Try it and I bet you’ll be hooked – my husband and I are!

    Reply

    6 Cynthia Skelton May 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I ferment water kefir and it really doesn’t take much time. Every other day I feed it. It takes about 5 minutes every other day. It really isn’t a hassle at all.

    Reply

    7 NancyO September 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

    We have been enjoying water kefir all summer and love it! Kombucha is too finicky for me, too, and the simplicity of making water kefir is more appealing anyway. I use 2 ounces of organic fruit juice for 16 ounces of water kefir for the second fermentation. IMO, grape is the best flavor to introduce it with because it produces a great fizz and has a wonderful flavor that everyone loves. After that we tried cranberry mixed with other juices, pomegranate, pineapple (super fizz), Knudsen’s Lemon, Ginger, Echinacea, apricot (not a great fizz, but a great flavor), tart cherry juice plain or with added vanilla. I even made a cream soda with a few tablespoons vanilla syrup for an extra treat! It was great. A real surprise was organic prune juice! I laughed at my husband when he suggested it, but it was really good! I have put crystalized ginger in during the second ferment, and we all thought it tasted like Vernor’s, but I couldn’t get much fizz…any suggestions for that? My son wanted white grape juice, but that was another one I couldn’t get any fizz with. Now, I haven’t been capping them in bottles, only reusing GT Dave’s kombucha bottles, the Knudsen’s quart juice bottles, glass mineral water bottles, etc., but I have found that Press and Seal plastic wrap helps with building fizz in Mason jars if that’s all that someone has available. I don’t think I’ll be getting into serious capping with a bottler or swing top bottles. This works fine for us.
    We have seen digestive benefits as well as yeast issues relieved since we started drinking this. How exciting to have such a wonderful serendipity with something we enjoy drinking! My children love offering it to their friends, and I have been rinsing the crystals and dehydrating them to share with friends.
    Can you tell I am excited about this? lol!

    Reply

    8 Local Nourishment September 9, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I can’t choose! I love them both! I figure there are probably different bacteria involved, so I just enjoy both. The kids were very reluctant at first, but I have two now who will drink kombucha (as long as it is grape) and one who will have kefir soda with me.

    Katie, I spend about 10 minutes a week making three gallons of beverages. It’s really not a big deal at all. The kombucha mother and kefir grains do all the work.

    Reply

    9 Judy Greenough April 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    So how do you make grape flavored kombucha? My little grandson and I both like that flavor of commercial kombucha best (and I’ve always just made my homemade kombucha unflavored). I’d like to try flavoring if you can let me know how to go about it. Thanks!

    Reply

    10 Julie @ Cultures for Health April 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    To make grape flavored kombucha:

    1. Make a batch of kombucha, preferably using neutral flavored tea or mix of teas (I prefer Oolong but Ceylon also works well as does a mixture of both green and black teas).

    2. Remove the kombucha scoby/culture from the finished tea.

    3. Bottle the kombucha tea with grape juice using a ratio of approximately five parts kombucha to two parts juice (e.g. 10 oz. kombucha to 2 oz. juice). This is just a starting point though–you may want to play around a bit to find the right ratio for you.

    4. The grape kombucha can be consumed immediately or bottled in tightly capped bottles (as discussed in this post for making kefir soda pop). Grolsch-style bottles work best (generally available at local beer/wine making supply stores) but I also know people who use old wine bottles with new corks. Let the kombucha and juice sit in the bottles a few days so the carbonation can build.

    Enjoy!

    Reply

    11 Peggy April 5, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    That’s exactly how I do it, too. But I make it by the quart, and find about 1 cup of grape juice flavors about a quart of kombucha, or about a 1 to 4 mixture. Kefir, I find needs less, about 1/2 cup per quart of water kefir. I always try to find organic juice, and only juice – not juice combinations or flavored juice.

    Reply

    12 bernie April 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    i noticed you mentioned that you enjoy drinking both kombucha and kefir. did you find that was ok. they don’t undo each other. i read on one web site that you should choose one or the other. do you agree. do you have the kefir first then perhaps the kombucha later. could you please enlighten me. thanks
    bernice

    Reply

    13 Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Were you asking Peggy? Hopefully she’ll respond because I’ve never heard that and these days only drink kefir soda anyway, which I love. :)

    Reply

    14 Pam C November 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    The doctor who wrote the GAPS diet suggests that more beneficial microbes, and more different species of microbes, are better for gut health. It seems to follow that drinking both would be more beneficial than just one, however I also think getting ANY probiotics in your diet is the biggest leap of all.

    Reply

    15 JoAnna September 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I’ve been using bail top bottles and kefir powder to make kefir soda and I seem to get too much fizz. Even if it’s refrigerated the fizz just keeps building, to the point I might lose all the good stuff to an overflowing explosion. Maybe we should just drink it faster! Not everyone likes it yet though, looking forward to reading the how-to post to see what others are doing!

    Reply

    16 linda April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I understand the bottles may need to be burped. I even read to do this everyday. Carefully open over the sink with a cloth over the top.

    Reply

    17 Chef Nancy September 9, 2009 at 10:35 am

    We have been making kombucha for about 5 years now and the variety found in different batches I find interesting and always a surprise. I’m looking forward to your recipe post for kefir pop to add to our list of -good for you- beverages.
    Also your list of where to buy the grains is helpful as well.
    Thanks for the effort1

    Reply

    18 Amy Green - Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free September 9, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I’ve never had either…I do really like the probiotic component of the keifer soda, which I have been adding to my diet. I’ve heard so much about this which means that it’s time for me to try it.

    Reply

    19 Pam September 9, 2009 at 11:16 am

    We drink Kombucha at our house but I would like to give keifer soda pop a try. What makes Kombucha wonderful is the glucuronic acid that is produced by the culture. A healthy human liver produces glucuronic acid in order to bind and remove toxic substances from the body (ie. pesticides, drugs, pollutants). If you are like me and grew up eating processed crap most of your life, your liver may not be functioning optimally. So, I give mine all the help I can.

    Reply

    20 Martha September 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    waah! Bad timing on this post. LOL I just got a kombucha scoby from a friend and bought the tea. Now I’m thinking I should have got kefir grains instead! I didn’t because I made milk kefir once and never had the guts to even taste it. I assume you make the pop from water kefir. I’m looking forward to your recipe. I got the kombucha since my sister gave me some she had made and three of our kids liked it. The fourth didn’t dislike it, he just didn’t beg for more.

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    21 Denise January 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Don’t worry, Martha, You will love your kombucha. I do continuous brew and it is very little work. When I did jars, I had 7 going at once, so did it once a day just like you do kefir and never had to wait. I have tried kefir soda several times with no success so I would love good directions as to how to do it.

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    22 KitchenKop January 16, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Yes Martha, some love it and wouldn’t drink anything else!

    Denise, did you see my post on how to make kefir soda? (Link is in the post above.)

    Kelly

    Reply

    23 Denise January 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    After I noticed the date on the original post, I did find it. I am surely willing to try again. Going to get some more grains at the next WAP meeting. Thank you, Kelly.

    Reply

    24 Megan September 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I just started making kefir soda pop. I made my first batch a week ago. I was very pleased. I plan on making some more tonight. I am looking forward to seeing your recipe and I am very interested in knowing the results for the alcohol content. My husband and I were recently discussing if it had alcohol in it or not. Thank you for your post.

    Reply

    25 Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet September 9, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I LOVE kombucha, but haven’t had the greatest success making it yet (because I keep letting it ferment too long!). I like water kefir “pop”, it just seems a little on the sweet side for me (I have to be careful about how much sweet foods I consume).

    I would love to hear what you find out about the alcohol content, though. I’ve heard stories of “hang overs” after consuming it, lol!

    Reply

    26 NancyO September 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Kimi, I have found if water kefir is left in the frig for several days after the 2nd fermentation, it continues the process and will taste very similar to kombucha as the sugar just keeps breaking down. I had a surprise one day when I pulled out a bottle that had been pushed to the back and forgotten for a week. It had that kombucha “whang” and wasn’t sweet at all. You could still taste the grape juice, though. I really like it, but truthfully, it doesn’t ever last that long here unless I hide it.

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    27 KitchenKop September 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Donielle, this link now has soda bottles available! (After getting to the company’s website, click on “supplies”.) http://www.kellythekitchenkop.com/tea” target=”_blank

    Katie, you’ll love how easy it is!

    Nancy O, great info! The main reason I bottle it is for the kids. It’s fun for them to drink a “real pop”!

    Great comments, guys, and an interesting conversation, eh?

    Reply

    28 Heather June 30, 2010 at 12:27 am

    One (somewhat less than strictly whole foods) way to get a case worth of good, thick soda bottles is this: Buy a case of the Mexican Coca-Cola from Costco. If someone in your house is a Coke-drinker, this is Coke made with real sugar, not HFCS. It also happens to come in good-quality, thick, reusable, recappable, bottles, 18 to a case.

    Reply

    29 Jeanmarie September 9, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I’m happily making and drinking both kombucha (for 5-6 years now) and kefir sodas (for a couple of months now). Sometimes, I mix them! Yup, if I let my kombucha get too sour I may mix it with kefir soda. I love experimenting and both life forms let me do that. I look forward to seeing your recipe, Kelly. BTW if you need to take a break between kombucha batches, just put a lid on your container and put it in the refrigerator. That’s why I love the very wide-mouthed jar from IKEA for making kombucha. It allows for greater surface area for the scoby to contact the sweet tea solution, and it comes with a great lid. Plus it’s heavy-duty, study glass but not so big I can’t carry it. I use a 2-quart canning jar for my kefir sodas.

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    30 Ashley September 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I just started making kefir this week for me and my kiddos. They love it! I make it with welch’s grape juice. That’s the only way I know how to do it so far. Can’t wait to see your recipe!

    Reply

    31 Erica September 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Re reason #5: I thought kombucha was full of good bacteria and yeast too — no?

    I’ve been making kombucha for a while, and we love it. It takes a few batches for the kombucha scoby to “settle in”, I’ve found, but now that I’m past that stage I get very consistent and tasty results. I make 7 quarts at a time, and it takes about 12 days to get the way I like it. If I leave it an extra day or two, we still like it!

    I’ll have to try kefir soda one of these days!

    Erica

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    32 Erica September 9, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    P.S. I have to take issue with #2, too: to make kombucha, I just brew the tea and sugar, let it cool, pour it into my 2-gallon glass cannister, then add some of my last batch and the kombucha scoby (I don’t even bother pulling off the babies usually, just once every month or so). Then when it’s done I ladle it into mason jars. Does kefir soda really involve “a lot less steps” than that?

    — Erica the kombucha defender

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    33 Diana September 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Love all you articles Kelly, however, my water kefir turned out yukky and K-T is more dependable, depending on how hot my kitchen is…funny thing. Just yesterday I was coming down w/ a sinus infection and started drinking it. Today its nearly gone….KT does kill staph aureus, e.coli and other bag bugs as well as act like probiotic. I’ll look into kefir pop now; maybe I was doing something wrong.

    Reply

    34 Elisa September 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    We love kefir soda. I have been making it all summer by just dissolving a little sugar in quart jar of water, then adding the kefir grains, then a handful of fresh, frozen or dried fruit. So far are favorites are peach, red raspberry and black raspberry. Honestly though, any kind I make everyone seems to love. We have not yet tried Kombucha. I really like the simplicity of water kefir and getting a fresh batch every day!

    Reply

    35 Kylie September 9, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I make kombucha, and do enjoy it. Like Kelly said though, it is unpredictable, sometimes its yummy and fizzy, other times it’s so so sour! I drink a glass of it every day though, as I know it’s good for me. I’ve never tried water kefir, but I know I’d love it. The reason I don’t make it is because I worry it has too high a sugar content ? I need to watch my sugar intake (candida) Or is water kefir along the same lines as kombucha ie. much of the sugars get converted into othe compounds? I’d love to be able to include it into my diet..
    Kylie in NZ :)

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    36 KitchenKop September 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Erica, you’re probably right, I just didn’t give my scoby a chance to settle in…but when no one will drink it anymore, it’s not easy to stay motivated to make it! :)

    Kylie, the longer it ferments, the more of the sugar is used up.

    Kelly

    Reply

    37 Tina September 9, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I have been making kefir soda for a couple weeks. It’s good and my kids like it. Mine is never a dark color; it’s a pale yellow – is that normal?

    I made a kombucha mother that looks great. I will make my first batch of kombucha tomorrow.

    I drink the kefir soda cold but during the winter I want to leave it out on the counter so it’s room temp. Is this possible to do with kefir soda and kombucha?

    Glad to see that Real Food Media website is back up and running!

    Reply

    38 Denise January 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I don’t know about kefir soda, but we leave our kombucha out on the counter – in a 2 1/2 gallon continuous brew crock – with the scoby in it. Keeps it really fizzy and no straining or bottles to worry about.

    Reply

    39 Sarah February 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Denise,

    I’ve been considering doing the continuous brew method, however, how do you keep the temperature up? Do you use a warming pad? I’ve been brewing my kombucha in a very warm closet.

    Reply

    40 Denise February 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Sarah,

    When you use continuous brew method, it brews faster. I do nothing for the temp. I have a 2 1/2 gallon crock and when it is about 2/3 empty, I pour in a gallon of sweet tea and it takes two days or so to finish. If the tea left in there is really strong, it might only take 24 hours. The temp in our home is usually between 64 and 68.

    Reply

    41 Sarah February 3, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Thanks for the feedback Denise, I’m def going to try continuous brew now =)

    Reply

    42 Denise February 3, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Sarah,

    A few links for you. I confess, I don’t understand the statements of a week to two brewing. If we let ours go for that long, it would be impossible to swallow!

    If I have cleaned my container and am starting a new batch, it takes about 5-7 days to finish. If I am just adding to it, it takes 2-3 days. We don’t like it too sweet, but do not like it sour either! We drain and clean the crock once a month or so, sometimes more.

    In the second link, the proportions of 2 cups liquid for one cup sugar are for a concentrate, not for regular adding. We use 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar to one gallon tea. My tea is organic black tea (5 bags) and organic green tea (3 bags) of any flavour choice. Organic is a must because of fluoride in tea. I purchase from vitacost.com and get the St. Dalfour brand, which is very cheap (but high quality) and I order enough to get free shipping. I order Teeccino at the same time so $49 min, is easy.

    I also do not bottle my tea. We love the head of foam and the nice carbonation. I have no patience for second ferments or bottling. My tea is never refrigerated, It is always in the crock and the carbonation is maintained. If I draw off a half gallon, I put a small piece of scoby in with it and it sits on the counter. Just our preference.

    These sites have some good info. Don’t spend too much on your container. We got a ceramic, LEAD FREE 2 1/2 gallon container for $64 including shipping. I am a bargain shopper extraordinaire! I will not pay more than I have to.

    http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-continuous-brewing-system

    http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/continuous-brewing-kombucha

    Reply

    43 Sarah February 5, 2013 at 3:44 am

    Thanks Denise for all the info! I’m astonished that you are able to get carbonation from your crock alone. I haven’t had much luck so far getting any carbonation even with a second ferment and adding juice. I’m on a limited budget at the moment too so I was checking out craigslist for a used water crock, lead free of course. There’s no reason that wouldn’t work is there?

    Reply

    44 KitchenKop September 10, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Tina,
    Mine is pale in color, too. :)

    The longer kefir soda is out (and kombucha too), the more it ferments.

    Thanks for telling me RFM was back up, I hadn’t checked in a while! That was a nightmare for Ann Marie. Stupid website glitches anyway.

    Kelly

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    45 Jeanmarie September 10, 2009 at 12:11 am

    I think the color just depends on what fruit you use. I’ve had all colors as I keep experimenting (I love these friendly microbe experiments!). Whether kombucha or water kefir soda, since they’re live organisms, they respond to their environment. The secret to avoiding sour kombucha is to start testing it sooner and test every day after a week (or maybe even 5 days in a warm climate). Then you can find the right moment to suit your taste. I don’t mind it getting too sour, though, as I then do a second fermentation with fruit juice for an interesting variation. Several people have said they culture their water kefir for only 24 hours; I’ve been doing at least 48 hours to make sure the sugar is gone so it doesn’t feed my candida (plus I’m trying to low carb/paleo/primal diet). There is inherent variability as these are living organisms, bless them! I don’t have kids but I bet kefir soda or kombucha with a second fermentation (with added fruit juice) would be a great way to get them off soda pop.

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    46 Laura September 10, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I’m working on a batch of KT right now. We love it. I can’t wait to try the kefir soda pop. Has anyone tried coconut water kefir? I’ve heard wonderful stuff about that.

    Reply

    47 Tina September 10, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    I just started my first batch of kombucha minutes ago. It took about three weeks to make the mother (mushroom.) Do y’all throw away the mother “juice”? I tasted it and it tasted like vinegar. I thought I’d keep it and use it like I would apple cide vinegar. Any opinions?

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    48 Kimarie June 30, 2010 at 12:27 am

    My daughter was using what she thought was apple cider vinegar from our fridge. However, it was on a canning jar… Turns out a pint of kombucha from November had been lost in the fridge and had grown a thin scoby, but the liquid had turned to vinegar. My daughter had been using it on her greens and said it was really good! So my opinion is: go for it!

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    49 Cheryl October 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Use it for your beauty routine — hair, face or a body rinse — or with your indoor plants as a supplement. I’ve never killed any of mine with excess although I did have a weird growth happening in one after I blended some scoby and added it as fertilizer to my houseplants! lol Very strange indeed. I should have buried it under the soil.

    Ah, but they all survived without any negative effects and are happy houseplants. :)

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    50 Sarah February 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Tina, you’ll need some of the ‘juice’ as starter tea for your next batch. In fact, I’ve read that the more sour the ‘mother juice’ is, the better it is for using as starter for your next batch of tea. I’ve even heard that if you don’t have any starter left you can use apple cider vinegar instead! So yea, I’d assume it’s pretty much the same thing as vinegar at that point.

    I’ve had BED coconut kefir, it’s yummy but was expensive. I tried a brand from the grocery store and it was disgusting, smelled like old socks! I attempted to make my own a long time ago but was unsuccessful.

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    51 Sue September 11, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Yummy, I have been looking for a way to make this. I

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    52 Jeanmarie September 11, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I have tried coconut water kefir. It was ok, not great, as I remember. I need to experiment with it more. I used bottled and tetrapak coconut water. Probably best with fresh.

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    53 Jeanmarie September 11, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Tina, I’m curious how you “made” a mother if you weren’t already making kombucha. Did you start with a bottle of GT’s? I’ve heard you can grow a scoby from plain kombucha but I’ve always started with an existing one. Not sure what you mean by the mother “juice.” Any liquid accompanying your mother is kombucha, unless someone added water or something. When I finish with a batch, I leave the mother in the container and just scoop out the finished liquid with a plastic measuring cup or siphon it out with a turkey baster and fill separate bottles with that (and a funnel!). I leave some kombucha with the mother in the main jar and just set it aside (covered) while I make my new tea. If I’m not going to get to it that day I usually put the lid on the jar and stow the mother/scoby in the refrigerator to slow its metabolism down until it’s fed again. The longer the liquid is cultured, the less sugar is left and the more like vinegar it will be. You can certainly pour some of this off and use like apple cider vinegar but the directions I follow (Sally Fallon and Sandor Katz) says to leave at least a half cup of the old batch with the mother when you make a new batch. I tend to leave probably way more than a half cup because of the large diameter of my scoby. You don’t have to be that precise as to measure how much is in there. Take out enough that the new tea batch fits in and leaves room for your scoby to add a new layer. Be sure the new tea is cooled to room temp before you pour it on your mother so you don’t cook it. :-) Hope that helps.

    Reply

    54 Kimarie June 30, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I grew my own scoby from a bottle of raw organic kombucha… Took about 3 weeks to get a nice thick one. It worked great! I think Nourishing Days or Food Renegade blogs have a post on how to do that.

    Reply

    55 Sarah February 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Yes! I made my 1st scoby from a bottle of GT kombucha, worked like a charm. You can even just leave half a bottle out (covered with a napkin & elastic band and a cute little baby scoby will grow! Funny story; the other day a bouth a bottle of GT original because I had run out of home made. I guess the lid had popped open a little (even thought it still had the plastic seal on) and a bunch of little see through baby scobys had grown. It looked like little jelly fish had grown inside. I would feel sorry for anyone who might have bought this as their first experience of KT and didn’t know what it was, quite a shock I’d say lol

    Reply

    56 lisa September 12, 2009 at 8:54 am

    how does one make grape kombucha?!?!?!
    i’d love to hear about how to experiment w/ flavored kombucha- i just make the same old kind every week w/ green tea. i mix it into apple juice and my daughter will drink it that way. :)

    Reply

    57 Cheryl October 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I used to mix ACV with apple juice for my toddler daughter with seasonal allergies. It is So Tasty, so I can imagine the Kombucha with apple juice would be very similar. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply

    58 Leanne September 15, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I drank some of my first batch of water kefir today. I did a 48 hr ferment with brown sugar & distilled water, a 25 secondary ferment with blueberry-pomegranate juice in one and chopped crystallized ginger in the others and then popped the in the fridge overnight. Wow! Incredibly fizzy! The juice kefir tastes a little like wine and my sons love it! We’re trying our ginger ale tonight and I’ll set up my secondary ferment for my next batch tonight.

    Anyone tried using sweetened tea as a secondary ferment? My kombucha went moldy right away but I enjoyed the flavour.

    Reply

    59 Jeanmarie September 15, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    That sounds so yummy, Leanne. After I finish my melon kefir soda, I want to try something with ginger. I only have fresh ginger, not crystallized. Wonder if that works as well?

    Reply

    60 Leanne September 15, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    @Jeanmarie I’ve read of a lot of people using fresh ginger and fresh ginger juice.

    Reply

    61 Jeanmarie September 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks, Leanne. I just started a batch with five thick quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/2 c. organic sugar. The melon and kiwi versions both turned out well. I’ve done frozen blackberries, that was really nice. Endless possibilities!

    Reply

    62 Jeannine September 19, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I just found a great site that has an extensive, world-wide list of people who are willing to either give away kefir grains (water or milk) for free, or share them for the cost of postage. I don’t know how to post a link, but the web page is here:

    http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php

    There is definitely both milk kefir and water kefir in my future!

    Reply

    63 Lael September 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I totally agree! I quit K-tea for the same reasons you listed. I LOVE water-kefir-soda! It helped me kick the soda habit, and even my kid will drink it. He hated the taste of K-tea and will have nothing to do with milk kefir. And, it’s so versitile. You can flavor it with all sorts of juices and fruits. It’s the greatest drink ever!

    Reply

    64 Jill October 1, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    My son has been experimenting with and bottling his own soda pop all summer – made with yeast. I found the kefir grains tonight at our local health food store and bought them, and we’re going to give them a try. It has to be better than filling our guts with yeast. His sodas have been terrific (Some really hot hot hot ginger soda, and a wonderful pomegranate cherry made from frozen concentrate), but we’d like to try supporting our health in a better way.

    Reply

    65 KitchenKop October 1, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Jill,
    I believe kefir soda still has yeast in it, but the good thing is that it also has beneficial probiotics along with it. :)
    Kelly

    Reply

    66 Tereza November 11, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Hello,
    i have been making kefir for the past 6 months and i can’t believe how wonderful it is. I make cheese from it and with the left over liquid, which i believe is the whey, i do drink to aid on digestion. I do believe it helps to keep weight off.
    I am originally from Brasil and I am slowly moving back there due to the fact that my daugthers are grown up and live in NYC; besides, i have 72 hectares of rainforest on the beach and I am very interested on making it into a permaculture heaven, a place where people can “reset their living bottoms”.
    I just found out that to make water kefir (i have lots of coconut trees on my property) you must use different kefir grains. Do you think that is true or do you just use the regular kefir grains?

    Reply

    67 Julie @ CulturesforHealth.com November 12, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Tereza–

    Generally water kefir is made with water kefir grains (also known as water kefir crystals). They are a bit different in composition and do best in sugar water, coconut water or juice.

    Technically you can convert milk kefir grains to culture juice (e.g. apple or grape juice) by placing them in the juice and letting them culture (they may not work right away, you may have to run through a few batches). Keep in mind that once you do that though, you cannot return the grains to milk–they are essentially ruined for purposes of making milk kefir. Ultimately though, I’ve never tried using milk kefir grains in coconut water. Water kefir grains would be best (and are reasonably inexpensive to buy) but if you want to try it, just plan on not being able to use the milk kefir grains again for milk.

    Hopefully that helps, but let me know if you have further questions–we are happy to help!

    Julie
    http://www.culturesforhealth.com

    Reply

    68 Alice Meier May 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I can’t find ANYWHERE how many calories in basic water kefir! Can you help? Thankyou.
    Alice

    Reply

    69 Julie @ Cultures for Health May 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Alice, unfortunately to the best of my knowledge that information doesn’t exist. Unlike Kombucha, water kefir isn’t available as a bottled drink in stores (I have no idea why that is–hopefully it will be someday) so likely no one wants to go to the expense of testing it for calorie content.

    Here’s what we do know though. The amount of sugar in water kefir is based on the amount of time the kefir ferments. It seems to be generally accepted that during a 48 hour fermentation period, approximately 80% of the sugar is consumed. So if you start with a 6% sugar solution (a ratio of 1/4 cup sugar per quart of water–an amount that will keep the kefir grains healthy during the process), you’d have approximately 1.38% sugar remaining at the conclusion (plus any juice or whatever you’ve chosen to add for flavoring). Basically, it’s a relatively small amount of sugar and a relatively small amount of calories but exact numbers aren’t known.

    Julie
    http://www.culturesforhealth.com

    Reply

    70 Kate June 29, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I know this is an older post now, but sorry, I LOVE my kombucha much more than water kefir!! We experimented with water kefir for a few months and it just didn’t work for us. Kombucha is great. Here are our reasons:

    1) Longer ferment time
    We actually LIKE this. We like to do big batches and have it around and not be messing with it every couple of days. With kefir we were either doing small batches OR we were making way too much and just couldn’t keep up with it all. Kombucha brews longer and slower and just works better for us.

    2) Simpler brewing
    We got confused with all these people saying they needed an eggshell, or dried fruit, or etc. etc. to brew kefir. Kombucha is just tea, sugar, and culture. Simple.

    3) Endless supply of culture
    I love getting my friends hooked on it, and I love being able to constantly brew larger batches. We’ve found that another 1 – 2 weeks aging in the fridge is ideal, but without brewing large amounts we can’t manage to age it that long. With more and more cultures I can do whatever I want!

    4) Bitter-ish taste
    I LIKE the vinegar-bitter taste of kombucha! Kefir often tasted yeasty to me, especially because we never managed to keep the carbonation in. Then I just wouldn’t drink it. Even if we do mess up the kombucha I still like it.

    5) Amazing feelings
    When I drank kefir I just kind of had a headache and my stomach was upset. I know it was detox. But even if I experience some of that with kombucha I also feel light and happy and wonderful, which makes it worth it. :)

    So I kind of prefer kombucha for almost the opposite reasons! :)

    Reply

    71 KitchenKop June 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Kate,
    I’m SO glad you commented with this different viewpoint so others can hear both sides! I’m going to tweet this so people come read what you had to say. :)
    Kelly

    Reply

    72 Kristin Short August 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Hi. Just want to note I have actually read not to give Kombucha to children…just thought I would mention.

    Reply

    73 Sarah February 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Kristen, I’m just curious, why not? I see no reason not to give kombucha to children over the age of a year and I have researched it. As long as you start with a small amount to make sure they don’t have a bad reaction to it. My four yr old won’t drink it because she doesn’t like the smell but I hide a little bit in her smoothies, for the added probiotics. Now, I have read that it’s not recommended for those who are pregnant to begin drinking it or if you’re breastfeeding, not to drink too much, because of the detoxifying effect. Does anyone know if kefir soda has the same detoxing effect? (I don’t think it does) Because i want to make some to see if my daughter will drink this instead.

    Reply

    74 KitchenKop August 29, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Hi Kristin, there are a lot of really good reasons to drink it, so be sure to research it yourself before you decide. :)

    Reply

    75 steve July 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I just received my kefir grains (water and milk) and am starting to experiment. One thing Im amazed at is that nowhere I looked (and Ive looked all over) can I find anyone who has info on making a kombucha “like” product using kefir grains instead of a scoby mother. I’m sure it would turn out different but I dont see why it wouldnt be possible and perhaps quite good. Anyone ever try it?

    Reply

    76 KitchenKop July 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I’m not clear on what you mean. Why not just make kefir soda or kefir water without the juice?

    Reply

    77 steve July 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    My bad, I’ll be more clear. My intent is to create a beverage with a similar flavor to kombucha in less time with more predictable results (from what Ive read kombucha can be very inconsistent from batch to batch). I havent yet tried kefir water (started my first batch this morning) but Im pretty sure it doesnt taste like fermented tea….but maybe Im wrong. I havent on any site found anyone fermenting sweetend tea with water grains. I was wondering if thats because black tea is bad for the grains or if the end result sucks or if nobody on the web has tried it or for some other reason I havent thought of. I find it hard to believe it hasnt been tried though.

    Reply

    78 KitchenKop July 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Ohhhh, OK, now I understand. I still don’t know the answer, though, so I forwarded your comment to Julie at Cultures for Health and if she knows more, she’ll comment here. :)

    Kelly

    Reply

    79 Julie @ Culturesforhealth.com July 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I have heard of a few people using sugar tea to make water kefir. The primary issue is that tea ultimately has a different chemical make up than plain water so sugar tea is going to interact with the kefir grains a bit diferently than sugar water. Long term it’s hard to say how it would affect the kefir grains. If it’s something you want to try, I’d encourage you to wait until your kefir grains start multiplying and you have extras to play with. That way if they end up not doing so well in the tea, it’s not a big loss.

    Reply

    80 steve July 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Thanks, hopefully someone has an answer. If not I guess Ill just have to be the trail blazer and report what I discover.

    Reply

    81 Science September 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Just get a PH meter and mesurment scale. Always use the same mearuments of ingrediants. And determine starting PH and “harvest” time by the PH level, for consistant results.

    Reply

    82 steve July 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks Julie, That was my plan. Im just using simple sugar and water right now until I have enough grains to start a “experimental” batch.

    Reply

    83 Denise June 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    We use a continuous brew system now. It cost $40 to set up and our tea is now very consistent in flavour. Easy as well. I add tea at night and it is ready the next morning. MUCH fizzier than Kefir soda – I have never done the second ferment, don’t have bottles – and we do all kinds of flavours with the tea. Makes it simple and fuss free.

    Reply

    84 Terri January 16, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Hmm … I love both and am making both. There’s absolutely nothing “magical” about the benefits of kombucha – it’s a probiotic just like kefir, it’s just got a somewhat different mix of bacterias and yeasts. The kefir grains are just a kefir scoby, and the kombucha mother is a different type of scoby. I never had a lot of differences between batches when I made single batches of kombucha, and now that I am using the continuous brew method, the taste is very consistent. Kombucha is more complex to make, I’ll give you that, but it’s benefits are from probiotics like any other fermented food or beverage.

    Reply

    85 Denise January 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Not quite, Terri. You cannot make kefir without the grains. But you CAN make Kombucha without a scoby. I have done it several times. The bacteria and yeasts are in the starter tea. The scoby is a protective covering they make during the brewing process. Take some starter tea, sans scoby, and add sweet tea. It will brew just the same and grew a new scoby.

    Reply

    86 Sarah February 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Does anyone know if there are more B vitamins in KT than water kefir or roughly the same? I’ve read that it’s the B vits that give that energy boost from KT along with the small amount of caffeine that’s left

    Reply

    87 Christina March 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Kombucha is not wonderful in some “mysterious yet wonderful way”; it has a more complex structure of probiotics and beneficial yeasts, as well as loads of vitamin B12 and important digestive enzymes. On top of that, depending on the quality of tea leaves you use during your ferment, kombucha can have an extraordinary amount of antioxidants. For someone who sounds educated on probiotics, I’m surprised you didn’t know that. There’s something mystical about nature and all its wonder, indeed.. but nothing unproven or unknown about kombucha! Another plus: kombucha often has less of a glycemic load than water kefir due to its nature: longer brew time creates a more sour, less sugar-laden end product. While water kefir is also beneficial, it tends to have higher sugar content.

    Reply

    88 Felicity Doyle April 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I have brewed both but find I trust the kombucha better because you know you’re only brewing the “right” bacteria and yeasts if it gets the vinegar-y taste and right pH. With Kefir, it’s harder to know if you’re brewing everything right. I suspected mine got cross-contaminated, and started brewing white stuff on top of my kefir. That was just unsettling, even if it was just excess yeasts. With my kombucha, I use the continuous brew method and a seedling mat to keep the temperature optimum and continuous. Doing that, I “harvest” my kombucha every 3 days. It’s like clockwork and always the same. And my mother is super happy and prosperous. I blogged my method here:

    http://healthfulmusings.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-busy-mamas-kombucha-brewing-method.html

    I may try brewing the kefir again. I did like it when it was just before it got too “wine-y” and I drank it straight. I just didn’t like that you didn’t have a way of assuring that the yeasts and bacteria were the good & safe ones.

    Someone had mentioned that you shouldn’t brew and consume both. Why is this? Is this true? I can’t imagine why that would be.

    Reply

    89 KitchenKop May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I’m not sure about that either, if you find out more, let us know. :)

    Reply

    90 alexa May 5, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Are Kefir grains a dairy product?

    Reply

    91 KitchenKop May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    No but there are kefir grains that you use to make dairy kefir and there are kefir grains like I’m talking about here that you make water kefir with.

    Kelly

    Reply

    92 Susan May 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Hi, there – I’m hoping a somebody can provide an answer for me. I had some kefir grains that made fairly good water Kefir. I used all of the recmmended techniques (i.e., organic sugar and purified water). Over the couple of months, my grains not only failed to increase in quantity, but they diminished in size and quantity, until they died and I’ve had to order (and pay for) more.

    Please help me figure out what I’ve done wrong and please let me know where I can obtain free grains, as I can’t afford to continue buying new ones. Thanks for your info in advance.

    Reply

    93 Jean May 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Susan, I have been only making it for a short time but my grains have been doing well. You might not have enough minerals in your water. Try adding a couple grinds of sea salt, and maybe even a piece of eggshell from a boiled egg. They will add minerals to the water that the water kefir grains need. You can also add a little molasses but I haven’t tried that. I don’t want the taste coming through – though I like molasses in some things :-)

    Perhaps if you could post your city and state, there is someone on here who could provide you with some grains.

    Reply

    94 Jennifer Cote June 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I love my water kefir! I felt a tad beer-happy last night though, chugging down a big glass of it that had a secondary ferment with raisins. Maybe it was the heat- I think the probiotics were having a drunk-fest!

    Reply

    95 Randonneur October 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    “Kombucha is beneficial in some mysterious yet wonderful way. Kefir soda is beneficial because it’s a probiotic/lacto-fermented beverage that fills your gut with good bacteria”

    Exactly the same for Kombucha : fills your gut with good bacteria !!

    Reply

    96 Jessica February 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I like kefir water better. I just like the taste better.

    Reply

    97 Nancy April 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Hi,
    I am about to order my first water kefir making kit, and I also have some plain Kombucha in my fridge to use to make my own, too. I first got hooked on Kombucha because I found a grape flavored version at a Whole Foods Market with chia seeds in it. Never thought of putting them in a drink like that, and they looked a little like fish eggs, but the thought of the good probiotics outweighed the weirdness so we tried it. WOW…it was delicious!!! The best part was that my daughter liked it too. She has Hashimoto’s disease so we’re really focusing on eliminating foods like wheat and dairy, and finding ways to heal her gut and help her feel better. Kefir and Kombucha will be a great start and I’m so happy to have found your site! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and recipes!! :-)

    Reply

    98 KitchenKop April 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for being here!!
    Kel

    Reply

    99 Elaine May 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Has anyone found a combination for Kombucha to make it taste like the commercial “green” GT Kombucha you get at the store. I loooove the taste but haven’t been able to duplicate it homemade.

    Reply

    100 Jacqui May 28, 2014 at 1:29 am

    We drank kombucha tea for around 1 year. It would ferment in around 4 days because the weather is very hot in India. I used organic white tea grown in China to avoid any fluoride residue in the tea and unsulphured organic white sugar. It worked very nicely – the babies were clean and white and it had a nice fizziness and tangy taste but I noticed in the 2 weeks break (about 6 weeks apart) that we were not drinking it, I just felt better. I got tired of making 4 litres of sugar tea each time and it just looked ugly on my dining table, people would always ask what it was and I would always give them some – some liked it, some didn’t. It wasn’t a hit sensation. I was also finding myself craving it whenever I saw it and I think I was just drinking too much fluids. So I just packed it all up, threw out the cultures and put the vintage 3 litre glass jars away. We have not missed it at ALL for the past couple of months. I wouldn’t mind making Kefir again but I don’t always have access to a nice sugar – it’s seasonal here to get evaporated cane juice and the grains died in between even when I feed them with white sugar (but I probably left them in the fridge too long without taking notice) So, at the moment, we’re over fermented beverages. I wouldn’t mind getting some kefir grains again but I can’t get access here.

    Reply

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