Water Kefir Grains on Wooden Spoon

Water Kefir Making | Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 

We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions about brewing this healthy and refreshing drink. 

What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a fermented, probiotic drink that is made from sugar water crystals. These grains, which are also known as tibicos or tibis, are made from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

A few tablespoons of these grains can be used to culture 1-2 litres of sugar water, coconut water or juice.  

What’s the difference between water and milk kefir?

 Surprisingly, water and milk kefir are not directly related. Although they are both made with grains (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), they contain different strands of beneficial bacteria. 

The benefit of water tibicos, is that it is dairy free, making it an ideal probiotic drink for people who are vegan or lactose intolerant.

What are tibicos grains made of?

These grains are usually made of spring or rainwater and organic sugar.

What is the difference between fresh and dehydrated grains?

Both fresh and dehydrated grains contain the same beneficial bacteria. The difference is that fresh grains are perishable and need to be used within 3-4 days, while dehydrated grains are shelf stable. 

Fresh grains are ready to use immediately and require little effort to get the fermentation process started. Dehydrated grains may need to be fermented 1-2 times (which will take between 3-4 days) for them to become active. Once they have the same consistency as fresh grains, they can be used in the same way as fresh grains.

How long will my grains last for? 

With a little bit of care and attention, your grains will grow and last indefinitely. You can use them to have a continual supply of healthy, probiotic drinks. 

You will need to regularly feed your grains a small amount of sugar (otherwise, you will starve them). You will also need to rinse and drain the liquid from the grains. The liquid can be drunk straight or you can second ferment it.

What is second fermentation? 

Second fermentation is the process where you add ‘fizz’ and flavours to your brew. Pour your liquid into a high pressure rated bottle and add a small amount of fruit pieces, herbs, spices or fruit juice. Leave to ferment for 1-2 days on your kitchen bench, and then place in your fridge for 1-2 days before serving.

The sugar from the fruit pieces, or juice, combined with the closed bottle produces carbonation.

What type of bottle do I need for second fermentation?

It is important to use a glass bottle that is designed for second fermentation. These bottles will have an airtight lid, e.g. a Grolsch style flip top bottle, and will be made of high quality pressure rated glass. As a warning, do not use cheap flip top bottles or glass jars as they may explode because of high levels of carbonation.

How do I stop my bottle from exploding?

Unfortunately, glass bottles can explode during second fermentation. To prevent, or minimise, the chance of explosion, remember these tips:

  • Start with a thick, heavy, good quality brewing bottle. The wire bails should be strong enough to withstand the pressure build-up in your bottle.
  • Leave at least 5-8 cm headspace between the liquid and the top of the bottle.
  • Minimise the levels of sugar, in your brew by adding no more than 1/3 cup of fresh fruit or a few slices of ginger. The more sugar that you add, the more carbonated and active your fermentation will become.
  • ‘Burp’ your bottles daily, and more frequently during hot weather. This means that you open the lid slightly and allow some of the gases to be released.
  • To fully open your bottle, place it in a bucket, and cover it with a tea towel. Point the bottle away from your face, and away from other people, and open it slowly. Don’t be surprised if your bottle ‘pops’ like a champagne bottle.


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