Probiotic Beverages: DIY
Why should you brew your own DIY probiotic beverages, like Kombucha and Water Kefir? First off, we do not use dairy products to make fermented food. So, we have no experience with milk kefir. However, we have gotten pretty good at home-brewing our own Water Kefir and the tea-based beverage known typically around the world as Kombucha. Water Kefir has some other curious names like Tepache, Piltz, Kefir di Frutta, Graines Vivantes, or simply Boozy Water. Both Kefir and Kombucha have a small amount of alcohol (at most maybe 1/2 of 1%) due to the fermentation process. Both are packed with probiotics and vitamins.
Homemade Probiotic Beverages Versus of Store Bought
You can purchase kombucha from most large chain supermarkets (and online). In some locations it may not be widely available. Water kefir is not available commercially yet (as far as we know). We don't believe anyone has been able to viably market water kefir. So, the first reason to go homemade is the availability issue. You can purchase store bought kombucha from brands like GT's and Kevita. Be aware, this stuff can be pricey ($2-5 per bottle).
The second reason has to do with quality. These are naturally fermented beverages that rely on both yeast and bacteria to "brew" the healthy probiotic properties. Not all commercial products are organic. They also may have added sugar and be pasteurized. That means fewer strains of the good probiotics are available. So, this is another good reason to learn to brew your own.
You Need a SCOBY and Kefir Grains
These are the two starter mediums. You can purchase both online. Just do a search for "Kombucha SCOBY" and "Water Kefir Grains". The cost is reasonable, and should be a one-time purchase for both. Both are live cultures and continue to grow and multiply. So, if you are lucky you may have a friend to share some of their SCOBY or water kefir grains (a symbiotic culture also called Tibicos). SCOBY is an acronym for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast".
You Want to Start with Good Clean Water
No fluoride or chlorine allowed. Aside from being harmful to you, it will not work for making probiotic drinks. It will kill the cultures of bacteria and yeast needed to make these drinks. Get that stuff out of your water. Get some good RO water and remineralize it, or find a source for natural spring water and well water. You want this water to have minerals in it.
Benefits of Probiotic Beverages
Suffice to say there are distinct differences in these two drinks. One has more bacteria, and one has more yeast. They both have health benefits you should learn about. Watch this Thomas DeLaur video to hear him describe the unique differences, and the benefits to your gut health. Video Link: Probiotics: Kombucha Tea vs. Water Kefir
2nd Fermentation Creates a Natural Soda
We will not get into the brew instructions here. You can find plenty of information for that online and on YouTube. You will have no trouble finding good instructions on how to brew Kombucha and Water Kefir. There are many interesting and easy recipes for you to follow.
We ourselves continuous brew kombucha. That way we don't have to wait several weeks or longer to enjoy a Continuous supply. On the other hand, water kefir only takes a couple of days from start to finish. So we brew kefir every few days with alternate batches for a continuous supply.
The second fermentation takes place when you bottle either of these beverages. This will cause the natural carbonation that will impart a soda like fizz, This takes an addition 2-3 days. Just remember that you need to use glass bottles. Additionally, you will need to use screw tops, or bottles like the old Grolsch Beer flip-top bottles. Next, remember that you need to "burp" these bottles (let some gas out) every day, since unattended you may have some bottles break or burst. Get busy, and have some fun!