My husband is a heavy drinker. Tea drinker that is. and coffee. During the winter he doesn’t drink a whole lot, but this time of year? My goodness, if I can make it fast enough, he’d drink two gallons of tea every day plus coffee.
Last year we brewed a lot of kombucha tea, which made us both feel better about his drinking so much, but then I killed my scoby, and couldn’t find the frozen backup (it’s gotta be in there somewhere…).
Over this past winter, Garrett started getting a rash that I couldn’t find the cause of, and a friend suggested giving him lots of probiotics. My search for non-dairy probiotics led me to water kefir, also known as tibicos.
I wasn’t able to get my hands on some starter grains until a few months ago, but ever since then, we’ve been brewing water kefir non-stop… and I haven’t made a single batch of sweet tea yet.
I’m not real big on fermented drinks, or really, anything other than water myself, but I do like the water kefir much, much better than kombucha. It’s flavor is much more mild, and much more fizzy. It’s also a lot easier and cheaper to brew. That’s a huge bonus. It’s also a lot more versatile. I’ve often flavored it with vanilla (my favorite – so easy and delicious!) or cranberry for something a little different.
Unfortunately, it’s not completely sustainable, because it requires sugar, and either Blackstrap Molasses , or raisins to brew, but it does cost a lot less than kombucha since I no longer have to purchase tea bags.
So how does it brew? Very quickly, and quite easily. So far, in my limited experience, it’s pretty forgiving and difficult to mess up. There are lots of variations on brewing methods, but this is the one I use, and it works really well.Print
How to Make Water Kefir
- 1/4 cup kefir grains
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of blackstrap OR 1/8 cup raisins
- 1 quart or larger size jar
- coffee filter, or other breathable covering material
- rubber band
- Dissolve sugar in a small amount of water and allow to cool.
- Stir in blackstrap (if that’s what you’re using).
- Place kefir grains in a jar and pour sugar/blackstrap mixture over it.
- Fill jar with water (up to one quart).
- If using raisins, add them in.
- Cover your jar with a coffee filter or something similar, and secure with a rubber band.
- Let sit for 24 hours and cover tightly with jar lid.
- Let ferment another 24 hours or so (depending on how warm or cool the area is, you may need to adjust the time).
- The kefir should be bubbly and slightly sour.
- Strain out kefir grains with a plastic strainer (not aluminum!).
- Refrigerate strained liquid and use the grains to start another batch.
- The grains will grow and multiply over time, so you’ll want to re-measure them every week or so. You can either use them to brew larger batches, give them away, or dry or freeze them for later. The book How to Make Kefir – A Beginners Guide has good information on how to preserve grains, as well as lots of great recipes and brewing tips.