How to Combine Water Kefir and Kombucha
It can be time-consuming to make, and consume more than one fermented drink everyday. Although this sounds a bit silly in a way, if you are also doing other things for your health, such as drinking apple cider vinegar, it can all mount up.
So is it possible to perhaps combine kombucha and water kefir? Yes!
Kombucha and water kefir can be combined in two different ways. One can either combine the two finished products, removing the water kefir grains and SCOBY before combining the two liquids into a single vessel and doing a ‘second ferment’ with it, or you can experimenting with combining the two cultures (water kefir grains and kombucha scoby) in the same vessel and see what happens!
Each method will give a slighly different fermentation taste!
Note that this is highly experimental, so we recommend using BACKUP cultures.
Combining Water Kefir and Kombucha in a Drink
If you are making both kombucha and water kefir in at home, but are finding that you do not always get to drink both in a day – why not combine them!
Method 1: Combining at Drinking…then Drink
All you need to do, is to mix the two 50/50. A few people who have made kombucha water kefir mixes report that this is very tasty. However you can also experiment and find a ratio which is your favorite.
Method 2: Combined Finished Product…then second ferment
This is pretty simple. Simply brew Kombucha and Water Kefir, then remove the cultures from each, then combine the finished brews into a single vessel and second ferment it for a few days to let the cultures (and flavors) really meld. You can add additional flavors (fruits, spices, etc) into the brew for additional goodness. This is MY favorite method and it’s the safest for both cultures.
Method 3: Combining Cultures at Bottling…then Ferment
If you like to keep your kombucha and water kefir in grab and go bottles for stashing into your bag on the way out of the house, then you might want combine the two ferments at the time of bottling. This can take a little bit of liaising as kombucha and water kefir have different fermentation times. But with a little bit of planning you can set up a brew schedule which allows you to bottle on the same day. This is more experimental because both cultures will be fermenting in the same bottle and the same liquid. This is basically a primary ferment, but you can also take the resulting ferment (removing both SCOBY and water kefir grains) and do a second ferment on it too, adding in different ingredients.
This method gives the most unique flavors, but it’s also the most prone to failure. Use backup cultures and only do this if you are feeling very experimental. But for those who do, it’s worth the interesting results!
Combining the Ferments
If you have more than one ferment going it can start to take up quite a bit time! If you are also interested in streamlining your ferments, perhaps consider combining the two cultures, the SCOBY and water kefir grains. This is quite an unconventional practice, but some have reported success.
Because water kefir grains are capable of fermenting most liquids which contain some sugar for them to feed on, the sweet tea base of the kombucha is not a bad substrate.
How to Do it
The way to test out if you can successfully combine your water kefir and kombucha making together and still make a ferment which you find enjoyable is simple.
1. Make your kombucha tea
Make the kombucha tea as usual. Combine it with the kombucha starter liquid in the kombucha fermentation vessel. Add in the SCOBY.
2. Allow the kombucha to ferment
Allow this to ferment within a day or two of maturity. So if your kombucha usually takes 9 days to ferment, ferment for 7-8 days.
3. Add sugar and water kefir grains
Method 1: Ferment the water kefir separately, remove the grains, then add in the water kefir into your kombucha. This is basically just fermenting both and combining them at time of drinking.
Method 2: Add in a bit of additional sugar to the fermenting Kombucha. You can use roughly the amount of sugar that you would use for the same volume of water kefir. Now add in some water kefir grains. Note that you should only use some spare water kefir grains as you don’t know how the water kefir grains will do in the kombucha mix. They should still be able to ferment, but you are mixing two different cultures, so unexpected things can happen!
4. Leave to finish fermenting
Leave the “pimped” brew for another one or two days to finished fermenting. Taste it! If you like your kombucha water kefir hybrid, then it is definitely worthwhile experimenting with this technique.
5. You can do a second ferment on the resulting brew
Once you combine the two differnt brews, you can choose to do a second ferment. When you do so will depend on the method you’ve choosen.
SCOBY & Water Kefir in Same Container: If you mix both cultures in the same bottle…do a second ferment after the primary fermentation is done and the cultures are removed. You can add in extra flavor ingredients for the second ferment. The second fermentation can be a day or three. Don’t forget to burb the bottle every day or you may get an explosion.
SCOBY & Water Kefir NOT in Same Container: If you mix the finished brews together and ferment them for a few days in the same bottle…do a second fermentation by adding in extra flavor ingredients (fruit, spices, herbs, etc).
Caring for the Cultures
As usual when doing experimental brewing, one needs to keep the health of your cultures in mind.
Have Back Up Cultures
Do not start this experimental brew unless you have some backup cultures on hand. If either the SCOBY or the water kefir grains become compromised, then you will find yourself having to source new cultures all over again if you do not have any spares.
As such, I recommend you use a spare SCOBY and spare water kefir grains, especially if you choose to add BOTH of these different cultures to a single brew vessel at the same time. You may also want to keep the mixed cultures ‘separate’ from your regular brewing, just in case.
Because it is in its preferred and usual medium, sweet tea, the SCOBY should do fine. However there is a possibility that it might go through an identity crisis due to the presence of the other kefir microbes. What will happen if some of the kefir microbes are incorporated into the kombucha’s makeup is a bit of a mystery. If you try this experiment out and observe any oddities – let us know! It might be quite interesting.
The Water Kefir Grains
While the SCOBY will be in its usual sweet tea, the water kefir grains will not be in their usual sugar water. Foreign substances in the tea could possibly send the grains into a slight state of stress. To remedy this, you can give them a break in their usual sugar water. A good time to do this would be in the part of the brewing process where it is just the SCOBY fermenting the sweet tea. This rest will of course provide you with more water kefir, and means that you are in essence getting back to doing two ferments again.
However, it might be possible to acclimatize your kefir grains to the tea. So if you like what comes out of your hybrid ferment, keep at it, and with time you might find that kefir grains can adapt themselves.
Chances are, if you are making kombucha, you are also making water kefir. If you are struggling to drink all of your ferments, or want to combine the fermentation process, then a little experimentation might be worth your while.
Kefir and kombucha mixed together in a probiotic cocktail can make for a nice flavor mix. Play around and find the right ratio to suit your taste.
If you really want to get experimental, then try out marrying your ferments as outlined above and make some Kefucha! : )