What is your favourite elixir?

We have all seen the term “ancient elixir” used to describe both kombucha and kefir, and it’s obvious as to why these delicious fermented drinks are given such a name. But what are the similarities between the different fermented beverages

How are Kombucha and
Water Kefir similar?

The SCOBY (Kombucha) and “Grains” (Kefir) are both similar in that they are living things – they are colonies of bacteria and yeast. These little workers consume the sugar used to create these fermented beverages and provide us with lots of good bacteria (known as probiotics), but how do they differ?

How are these Ancient Elixirs different?

While both of these fermented beverages are prepared by adding some form of carbohydrate (ie, sugar) to the “starter culture”, kombucha also requires tea to “consume”.

  The Kombucha colony is a “single mass” that is held together by polysaccharides. In my opinion, the colony looks something like a combination of a jelly fish and a mushroom (which is why the culture is also referred to as a mushroom - although it is not a fungus).

  Water kefir grains are also a colony of bacteria and yeast, although they don’t “join together” in a single mass, but form small, translucent, jelly-like structures (up to around 1cm accross), known as “kefir grains”.
 Kefir grains contain no actual grains such as wheat, rye, etc. 

How do the flavours of these Ancient Elixirs differ?

Kombucha is certainly more “tangy” than Water Kefir, although both vary according to the culturing time.
Shorter fermenting time of both kombucha and water kefir makes for a sweeter brew (which, incidentally, also contain less probiotics, as these increase over time). Kombucha also develops a “vinegar-like” taste if fermented for extended periods and tends to have a “deeper” flavour than Water Kefir. While it is fine to consume both of these tasty drinks after a first ferment, it is recommended doing a second ferment, where the flavour of your brew is limited only by your imagination. Traditionally, people would use whatever fruit, berries or spices that were abundant and in-season at the time of brewing.

Which Elixir should I choose?

Kombucha seems to have a greater affect in aiding digestion, which is probably due to it containing more beneficial bacteria, acids and enzymes than Water Kefir.
Kombucha tea can however contain caffeine, depending on the type of tea used.
  While Water Kefir does contain enzymes and acids, it is a much “lighter” beverage than Kombucha – not only in terms of the flavour, but also in the intensity of the concentration of probiotics. Some people may however prefer to consume Milk Kefir as it contains a greater number of bacteria strains than those found in Kombucha or Water Kefir.

In Summary

As both of these fermented beverages provide not only unique flavours, but varied probiotics that assist in all kinds of bodily systems, I can’t choose between the two, and I am going to continue drinking both of these ancient elixirs on a daily basis.

What do you think? Do you prefer Kombucha or Water Kefir, or are you just like me and love them both just as much as each other?