Water kefir and kombucha are very similar drinks. They are both made through fermentation, both have amazing health benefits, both are bubbly and delicious, but what makes them different?
People all over the world rave about kombucha healing them of their stomach distress as well as clearing skin and making them feel healthier overall. While others swear by water kefir curing them of stomach distress and other ailments. Is there one you should drink over the other?
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is basically just fermented sweet tea. It is made by simply making sweet tea and adding a SCOBY (otherwise known as a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) which eats the sugar in the tea and ferments it. The SCOBY adds in beneficial, health promoting, gut loving bacteria and yeast to the drink.
After fermenting for about a week, the finished product is an almost sugar free drink that tastes like bubbly apple cider with a hint of vinegar. Many people love the taste of kombucha, but some… not so much.
What is Water Kefir?
You may have heard of milk kefir, but water kefir? When I first learned about this, I thought it had to be the most disgusting drink in the world. I had already been making homemade milk kefir by adding “grains” (a colony of bacteria) to milk and letting it ferment for 24 hours. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sour, yogurt taste that milk kefir had so I could not imagine this drink that everyone was saying was an amazing alternative to soda. But my first experience drinking it? I will never go back!
Water kefir is made in the same way as milk kefir but instead of adding squishy, white blobs of grains to milk you add clear, crystal like grains to fruit juice or sugar water. Just like in kombucha or milk kefir, the grains/bacteria eat up the sugar in the drink and make it ferment. What’s left is a bubbly, fruity, slightly sweet and sour drink!
Why is this Good for Me?
Your stomach (weather you want to think of this or not) is full of good and bad bacteria. By drinking or eating fermented drinks (like kombucha and kefir) and foods (like sauerkraut and kimchi) your adding in that good bacteria.
Consider what Dr. Axe says about how beneficial bacteria is for our bodies. “Not only are all bacteria not detrimental to our health, but some are actually crucial for boosting immunity, keeping our digestive systems running smoothly, our hormone levels balanced and our brains working properly.” 1
Read this article by Dr. Axe to learn more about the human microbiome and its importance to our health!
Which one is Best?
Both milk kefir and water kefir only take 24 hours to ferment. Kombucha on the other hand can take a week to 30 days to completely finish fermenting. This may be a downside to you if you would like it on a daily basis!
You can of course make multiple batches of kombucha at a time (which is what I used to do) to make sure you always have a consistent supply. Having to make water kefir on a daily basis may also get tiring since you have to switch it out every day in order to keep your grains alive. It’s up to you what is best for your schedule!
They also contain different kinds of bacterias which can benefit you in different ways.
Kombucha is in general much stronger than water kefir and is known to aid in digestion. Not only does kombucha contain beneficial bacteria but it also has acids and enzymes which help break down foods easier. 2
Kombucha also helps improve circulation which improves feelings of well being! It has also been shown to increase detoxification in the liver. 2
To learn more about the health benefits, check out this article from Common Sense Home!
Water Kefir can also aid in digestion, but is weaker because it does not have as much acids and enzymes. On the other hand, it does contain more bacteria strains than in kombucha. 2
“(Water kefir) is loaded with valuable enzymes, easily digestible sugars, beneficial acids, vitamins and minerals…. it also is a nice option if you are trying to avoid the caffeine present in kombucha, but still seeking a probiotic drink…. Kefir may also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.” 3
Both of these are amazing drinks that can benefit you in many ways! It’s up to you and what you think your body needs in order to determine what is best.
I personally like to drink water kefir at least every other day (because I prefer the taste over kombucha) and have kombucha when my stomach needs a little extra help. With that said, some people recommend not to drink both at the same time, so do research before you decide. Kombucha is stronger so it’s going to help you the most if your stomach and health is really in need of some help, but kefir helps keep your stomach happy and healthy.
You really can’t go wrong when choosing which one is best for you simply because they are both so beneficial!
When drinking either one of these, take it slow. Don’t down a whole bottle in 10 minutes when you’ve never had it before, especially if you have stomach issues, because in my experience, it can irritate the stomach if taken quickly. Drink a few sips at a time and see how you react.
For example: “Some people get GI symptoms if they start kefir too much too fast due to the microbial shift in the gut. Kefir has many beneficial microbes. You only need 1 tablespoon to equate to a whole bottle of probiotics.” 3
Also note that people with Candida overgrowth may not be able to tolerate either of these drinks. Always do your own research first!
If you would like to make your own, I recommend this website to learn more and buy your SCOBY’s and grains! If you would like to buy in stores, I recommend Synergy brand for both kombucha (strawberry all the way!) and Kevita kefir water (mango coconut is the best… just saying).
I hope you try out kombucha and water kefir to see which one you like the most! Your stomach will thank you.