Water Kefir Variations

Water Kefir Probiotic Drink and Variations

I’ve written before about water kefir, and it is definitely my husband’s favorite way to get probiotics naturally. It doesn’t have the strong taste of kombucha and is faster to make.

Where to Get Water Kefir Grains?

If you’ve never made water kefir, it is really simple to make. I get live water kefir culture (called grains) from here and use them to make endless batches of water kefir. One small batch of water kefir grains can make hundreds of batches of water kefir and multiply itself if properly cared for.

From a previous post, here are the instructions:

Water Kefir Probiotic Drink and Variations

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Water Kefir Variations


  • Water Kefir Grains
  • 1/4 cup sugar per quart of water (I like organic unprocessed Rapadura sugar) Do not use honey!!
  • Non-chlorinated filtered water (If you use reverse osmosis, consider adding a few drops of trace minerals back in or sticking a rinsed pastured egg shell in for minerals) If you just have tap water, boil it to remove chlorine and cool before using


  1. Dissolve the sugar in small amount of hot water.
  2. When sugar is dissolved, fill the rest of the jar with cool filtered water and make sure the water is not warm- it must be at room temp!
  3. Add the hydrated water kefir grains
  4. Cover with towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter and rubber band to keep out insects or small children.
  5. Leave on the counter (preferably at 70-75 degrees) for 24-48 hours. The longer you leave it, the more sugar ferments out, so if you ware limiting carbs, I recommend 48 hours. Don't leave longer than this! It can starve the grains!
  6. After 48 hours, strain the water kefir grains through a bamboo or mesh strainer (don't use metal if you can help it!) pouring the liquid into another container. I use a half gallon jar for the first process and strain into two quart size jars.
  7. Restart the process by dissolving more sugar in water, adding cool water and adding Water Kefir Grains.
  8. To make the Water Kefir carbonated, pour a couple ounces of fruit juice into the strained water kefir you just strained. I've found Grape, Pomegranate, Apple and Cherry to work the best. I don't recommend citrus for this part, as it makes stringy yeast like things that are not tasty!
  9. Once you've added the juice, cover the jars tightly with an air tight lid and leave on the counter an additional 1-3 days before drinking or refrigerating.
  10. Repeat the process!

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My Favorite Water Kefir Variations

For flavors, I recommend using a secondary ferment. After making the water kefir with the instructions above, I remove the kefir grains and use them to create a new batch as described above. I then transfer the newly made water kefir to a quart size jar and add in any of the ingredients below. Then, I cap the new jar tightly and leave to ferment for 2-3 days on the counter. This allows it to develop a natural carbonation.

Here are our favorites:

  • 1/2 cup grape or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins or a few prunes (makes a Dr. Pepper like taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit like mango, berries, etc (just not citrus or pineapple)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 3-4 prunes or dates (makes a cream soda flavor)
  • a small piece of fresh ginger and 1/4 cup apple juice
  • strawberries and then a splash of lime juice right before serving

Do you make water kefir? What is your favorite variation?

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Reader Comments

  1. I have been slowly integrating more fermented foods and kefirs into my diet. I love young coconut water kefir. The Water Kefir Grains fascinate me! I’m also in love with real homemade sauerkraut and fermented veg. Delish!

  2. We’re interested in water kefirs so that we can start making our own soda and wean ourselves off the bad stuff.

    • If its not 70-75 degrees in my house all the time does it take longer for the water not to taste sweet or can I put the jar on a heat pad?

  3. My brother has a really problematic probiotic deficiency, so i’m hoping to introduce him to water kefir as a more natural option.

  4. I’ve been experimenting with my veggie ferments and we’re trying to eat them twice a day. A probiotic drink would be a great addition! (My kids miss juice and lemonade!)

  5. Have you added any flavors to your kefir? I fell in love with a citrus kombucha but its too expensive and I’ve only bought it for 2 special occasions. I found in Nourishing Traditions a recipe on Kombucha, but it looked laborious….. so I signed up for the Cultures for Life newsletter and hope to learn more!

    • I’ve added grape, blueberry, pomegranate, and others. Citrus is good
      too, though it gets stringy if you let it ferment for too long. I’d
      definitely encourage trying to make it… so much cheaper… and
      better in my opinion!

  6. Love the recipes and other info on the site.

  7. I forgot to mention in my other comment that I love making kombucha, but I have not yet tried water kefir. It sounds great, though!

  8. Thanks for the information and resources. I love your site.

  9. I already do milk kefir, but I love the notion of an alternative to soda! I miss my Pepsi!

  10. I used to make water kefir but something went wrong with the grain and I lost them. So would love to start up again.

  11. I enjoy carbonated beverages so I’m interested to try something that doesn’t have all the sugar that coke does.

  12. I have not tried making my own kefir beverage, but am interested in doing so. This would be a perfect place to start!

  13. I have not yet tried making water kefir but have been wanting to do so for some time. My family loves Kombucha but it would be great to have another healthy drink to offer them.

  14. I’d love to try the water kefir. I got your milk kefir grains and your kombucha already.

  15. I haven’t tried Water Kefir yet, but I am looking forward to doing so!

  16. I have recently learned about Water Kefir and really want to get my whole family drinking it. I would love the opprtunity to try it out for free =)

  17. I haven’t tried water kefir yet, but I really want to!

  18. I LOVE any kind of Kefir becasue I have always had digestive issues (it’s a long story as to why…mostly WAAAY overmedicated all my life!) and I’ve recently been diagnised with IBS…probiotics are a life saver!! I feel so much more healthy and I love being an example and encouragement to my friends (especially the ones who were afraid of cultures! :))

  19. I really want to try water kefir, fingers crossed!

  20. I actually have a batch of Kombucha from a CFH culture brewing right now. Fermented foods help me feel energized and have completely changed my GI tract for the better!

  21. My husband and I have been talking about ordering some kefir and water kefir grains from Cultures for Health. I’ve been really pushing for the water kefir because he’s been a champ about quitting drinking soda, but he’s missing the carbonation more than anything. We make kombucha, but it’s not quite doing the trick 🙂

  22. We love water kefir… and makes a great summer drink. Sadly our water kefir grains died last winter when we didn’t use sugar for several months.

  23. I’ve never had Water Kefir but I’m a fan of fermented foods! My favorite is kombucha, and I’ve had success with cultured salsa and buttermilk. Never tried to make kefir with grains – can’t wait to try!

  24. It’s great to see so many great blogs about nourishing foods/cultured foods 😀

  25. I love fermented food! They taste great! I have been wanting to try kefir. I subscribe to the newsletter.

  26. I like the fact that they are to inprove gut health.

  27. oh i ‘ve really been wanting to try this! keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

  28. I love your website! Have been making tons of recipes. My toddler and husband have been eating them (although hubby still eats bread too….) 😉

  29. i love how incredibly good fermented foods are for you..most people look at you like “what? isnt that disgustin?” it has wonderful flavors and heathgiving properties that you just cant get from normal food.

  30. I am trying to get more fermented foods into our diet and water kefir sounds like the easiest thing to get my kids to like! Thanks for a great giveaway!

  31. I love how much of a boost probiotics give the immune system. Last I read, 70 to 80% of our immune systems are actually dependent on probiotic bacteria in the intestines. I definitely notice a different while eating/drinking fermented products. xD I also used to eat sauerkraut before bed to get rid of bloating and wake up with a flat tummy! Also, these foods are tasty and easily digestible. I think that might put a bit of a dent into why I love fermented foods/drinks.

  32. We’re making our first batch of kombucha and are anxious to try the kefir, too.

  33. I would love to get started with Kefir. Thanks so much for all the sharing all the information.

  34. I want to learn about making my own kefir & kombucha. Thanks!

  35. I have also liked your site on Facebook and posted about the give-away. ;3

  36. I liked you on FB, and I’m signed up for the 40 day challenge. Thanks so much!

  37. What I like about fermented foods is that they are like a 2-for-1 deal. They taste great & are yummy, AND have probiotic-gut-boosting benefits!

  38. I just starting hearing about water kefir and love the simplicity and health benefits, this would be a great thing for my family!

  39. I’m looking forward to trying Water Kefir soda and getting my daughter to stop drinking Dr. Pepper!

  40. Thanks so much for such a great blog. I signed up for cultures of health. We love our raw dairy. I would love to try Water Kefir soda! Thanks!

    • Where do you live so that you can get raw milk?! We live in Canada and they put people here in jail for selling raw milk… odd thing is I drank only raw milk till I came here in my late 20-s , and soon after so came here all my allergies started… I am trying fermented foods now see if they make a difference since I ccannot get my raw milk here…

  41. I just signed up for Cultures for Health Newsletter and am excited to get started on this journey with fermented foods! We buy kefir smoothies quite often, but haven’t ever tried to make it ourselves. Also, I can’t wait to learn more about fermenting our foods! Great info…thanks for sharing!!

  42. I’m looking for ways to improve my family’s health. Water kefir sounds like a great way to phase out soda!

  43. Got very excited when I started reading and saw a chance to win this and that today was the last chance to enter.. Then very disappointed that it ended April 15, 2011… Oh we’ll, still interested 🙂

  44. already get your newsletter but would love to get some water kefir going. currently drinking raw milk kefir and it’s just not my favorite!

  45. I was hoping for more recipes below. I just inherited at least a cup of of grains yesterday and have began my fermenting. I’m wondering about adding herbs in. Bonus for hormone balancing ones like vitex and red raspberry leaf. What about mint? I’m so excited to be brewing again!!

  46. I am loving your entire blog! I have a question about the sugar in this recipe, what exactly its function, and can it be substituted for fruit or something else? I’m just very curious. Thank you for sharing all of this priceless info with us.

    • It is the food for the healthy bacteria. You can’t substitute for it, but most of it ferments out

  47. I love what your doing. You are truly amazing!! Thank you!! You and your website have helped me so much.. and the ripple effect is BIG!

    • Thank you so much, and thanks for reading!

  48. I combined two of your posts for a wonderful result: I fermented the water kefir in water with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of ginger bug (contained in a tea bag). Lots of fizz and a great flavor. Thanks for sharing all of your information.

  49. Hi,
    I read a lot about waterkefir and kombucha. How do you take care of the acidic mouth environment after drinking waterkefir? Or is it “enough” to use remineralizing toothpaste, doing oil pulling and other good stuff for teeth? I am afraid of damaging my healed teeth again, but I need the bacteria of the kefir to treat my remaining allergies. Could a glass of water with baking soda or Xylitol be an option (mouth flushing not drinking)?

    Thanks, Nadine

  50. Hi Katie! I was wondering what kind of rapadura sugar you purchase. I looked at my local Whole Foods and they didn’t have any. Can you give me a link of the brand you use? Thank you!

  51. This may be a stupid question but I was wondering if I could put marijuana in with the fruit?

  52. I wish I would have found this before flavoring my first small batch! Others have recommended orange juice concentrate because it tastes like a mimosa – maybe they meant right before serving. We’ll see.

  53. Hi Katie,

    I am new to making Kefir water and followed your post and made 3 patches and not sure if I am making it right, appreciate your reply on my questions:

    1) The kefir water doesn’t have a nice smell, is it right? But when I taste it, it doesn’t taste like that unpleasant smell, only mild sweet. What does it suppose to taste like?

    2) The kefir water is not fizzy, is it normal?

    3) On my 3rd patch, I left it for 3 days, I worry if the kefir grain is starved, how to know if the kefir grain still alive?

    Appreciate your reply, it will help me greatly and others who are beginner like me 🙂


    • 1- that is normal
      2- It will only be fizzy if you do a second ferment and can take a few weeks to get to this point.
      3- it should be ok, just make sure to change often for a while to re strengthen it

  54. Is it helpful to add an opened capsule of a probiotic to enrich the kefir ?

  55. How much do you drink a day? Is there a recommendation?

  56. Hi Katie

    My water kefir is fizzy after just 24h and contains a bit of alcohol. Is it because I add a little bit of molasses?
    After the second fermentation it’s very fizzy and has even more alcohol. I can tell that as I have 0% tolerance to alcohol and when I drink just a little bit of it, I can feel it. The taste is ok, but I am afraid to give it to kids to drink.
    What do you think?

    Thanks Dragana

  57. I started making water kefir about a month ago after reading your post. The first few batches came out great. But I’m not sure if the last few batches are okay. I can’t seem to get a clear drink. It looks like some tiny grains are still in the strained kefir. Is that safe to drink? It settles at the bottom. Are my grains dying?

    • Very normal and nothing to worry about unless there is an off smell or taste

  58. Hi Katie,

    I have a question to you. I started doing water kefir 2 months ago. But I think that it is not as it should be. I leave the grains in the same solution for a week but the taste is still too sweet and not fermented enough. The grains look like good, but it seems they are asleep. I have already done some batches, but it doesn’t improve. How may I know if the grains are dead? What should I do? Thanks in advance!

  59. Katie- I just got my grains to make this – how much water do I use for 2 tbsp of grains? Thanks so much! Anxious to try it!

    • 32 Oz or close to a liter

  60. May I ask why you say not to use pineapple for a 2F? Pineapple is one of my absolute favorite flavors and it gets super fizzy.

  61. I love your blog and podcast! 🙂 I’ve just started making my own water Kefir and we’ve been having pretty warm weather and it is usually around 80 degrees in the house. Should I ferment my Kefir water for less time? Is there any rule of thumb for temp increase or decrease? Thanks in advance!

  62. Hi there,
    I’m new to this so here goes…I fermented water sugar and Kefir grains for two days now.
    do I put the water Kefir in the fridge after I add the fruit for a couple of days on back on the counter?
    Michelle O

    • After you strain out the kefir grains, you use those to make a new batch with another round of cooled sugar water. The already brewed water kefir (once you remove the kefir grains), you add the fruit or juice and leave on the counter for a day or two to ferment before transferring to the fridge.

    • I am not kitchen savvy so I got ahead of my self and added the dates to the grains and water. Can I save my grains? I think I could be an example to all the dysfunctional kefir girls lol.
      Thanks for your time!

  63. What about ph level? I have read that you have to add lemon, minerals? Am confused every site says something different! I have tried will different sugars and notice that they multiply more with coconut sugar but then then not at all with unrefined sugar…why is that?

  64. Could you use coconut sugar as an alternative? I’m trying to stay away from all sugar. I know it ferments away but would rather not even have it in there to start with.

  65. My neighbor gave me some Kefir water. i loved it. so she gave me some seeds. Her directions were to put the seeds in the jar , dissolve brown sugar in water, then add sugar water to jar fill with water and add flavored herbal tea bags, 2 per quart and let sit with a coffe filter over it foe 48-72 hours, strain, start over. has anyone else here ever used herbal tea bags?

  66. I have had my kefir going for about 12 months.
    The last lot i made i left in the 1st batch for about a week.
    Im worried that i might of killed them.
    They usually bubble if i tap the glass, but this time they arent.
    How can i tell if they are no good?

  67. HELP! I just realized I made a mistake! I left the grains in coconut water for 24 hours, took them out then added the apple juice and ginger BUT left coffee filter for another 24 hours instead of closing it tightly. Is my kefir ruined? Will we get sick if we drink it? Thank you!

  68. Is there a limit to how much kefir soda adults or children should consume?

  69. I’ve read that the longer the water kefir is stored the more it will ferment, causing a higher acidic and alcohol content. At what point is it unsafe to give to children and is there a way to prevent it from continuing to ferment to avoid altering the flavor, acidity and alcohol content?

  70. I’ve been having a ton of fun making water kefir at home, but the only version I’ve mastered is ginger. I tried making a vanilla one once, but I must have added the vanilla extract at the wrong time (I put it in after primary fermentation) because I think the alcohol in the extract killed all the beneficial bacterial and the final result was gross! I

  71. I know this is an old post, but how much of the water kefir grains do you use? And can you reuse the grains, or do you need new grains for each batch?

  72. Hello. Thank you for the article.
    I have question.
    After the water Kefir is ready (second or even first fermentation), how long can it stand inside the fridge (when will it expire and become bad)?
    More or less then a week?

    • I’ve been researching and practicing how to make water kefir for months. A good resource is a site called Yemoos. There is a ton of info in the FAQ sections. You will enjoy.:) From what I’ve read it won’t go bad ever, it just continues to ferment (slower if chilled). It would eventually consume all the sugar and turn them to alcohol. The beneficial bacteria will be less if you wait too long. I’ve had mine in the fridge for over a month and still enjoy it. It tastes more on the alcohol side though. Without testing it I can’t say as to what percent alcohol it’s become, it’s alcohol content (%) is limited to and depends on the amount of sugar used and how long it’s been fermenting.

  73. being new to water kefir, after initial ferment I wanted to try some fruit so the second ferment I used very ripe pineapple and fermented for 24 hours, removed the older fruit, put fresh pineapple in the water kefir and fermented for another 24 hours and everyone who tries it is impressed how good it is, even me. I’m having a glass right now and it’s great.
    Not sure what I did wrong/right. It tastes like a wine cooler, a little alcohol content, not much and a lot of carbonation.
    I can see how problems could arise though so it must have been beginners luck.