Kefir can be traced back to ancient times and was once referred to as “the drink of the prophets”. Some report that Water Kefir started in Mexico.
Water kefir, a fermented beverage that is teeming with beneficial probiotics (many strains of bacteria and yeast, as well as organic acids) supports a healthy digestive system and colon.
Kefir drink is remarkably simple to prepare and often more palatable than other probiotic tonics like kombucha, rejuvelac, or beet kvass, although each fermented beverage has specific benefits.
Water kefir is first cultured by introducing a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) into black tea and sugary water (ginger beer root and certain other beverages have been used).
The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the water kefir grains metabolize the sugar, turning it into an array of beneficial acids and infusing it with beneficial microorganisms, additional B vitamins as well as food enzymes.
Water kefir grains are small, translucent, gelatinous structures comprised of assorted bacteria including lactobacillus hilgardii and the polysaccharide kefiran, which gives them their characteristic crystal-like appearance.
When properly cared for and regularly cultured, they produce a wonderful probiotic-rich beverage which will continue to grow and reproduce indefinitely.
Water Kefir Benefits
Kefiran has antitumor properties, is an anti-inflammatory, boosts the immune system, is known to lower cholesterol levels, helps with heart and artery disease, regulates blood pressure, aids in digestion, and heals the liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder, and stomach ulcers.
Water Kefir and Alcohol
Like all fermented beverages, culturing water kefir produces a small amount of alcohol. The alcohol content of water kefir is 0.5% to 0.75%, depending on how long it is brewed, and is typically less than what you find in overly ripe fruit, which hovers at 0.9% to 1
Water Kefir Grains
To make water kefir, you need water kefir grains. As mentioned previously, water kefir grains (tibicos) are a crystal-like structure of SCOBY, that is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts (mainly Lactobacillus species like you would find in yogurt and the type of yeast you would find in bread) and the long chains of starchy kefiran.
As you brew water kefir, the grains will grow and reproduce, and you’ll have new grains to give to friends so that they, in turn, can begin culturing water kefir at home.
Water kefir should not be made with milk kefir grains, which are a different composition of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that rely on milk to grow and reproduce.
While you can culture non-dairy liquids (like coconut milk, sugar water, sweetened infusions, etc.) with milk kefir grains, you should return them to milk at least weekly lest they weaken with time. Water kefir grains, similarly, should be kept only for culturing water kefir.
I also use mineral-rich unrefined molasses. This combination works well to support the health of the water kefir grains by providing the SCOBY with plenty of minerals.
Equipment for Brewing Water Kefir
To brew water kefir, you’ll need jars and a milk bag or a bit of cheesecloth. I use a one gallon jar or two quart mason jars, depending on how much kefir I need.
For secondary fermentation, a process that gives water kefir its characteristic fizz, I recommend flip top jars with seals so that the finished kefir can be stored for a few days in the fridge until ready to drink.
There are more refreshing fruity drinks and Coconut Kefir recipes that can be found on our recipes link and by joining our Let Wellness Begin coaching group.