Water Kefir vs. Kombucha: What Is the Difference?

Kombucha and water kefir (also known as fruit kefir) are two fermented, tangy and sparkling drinks. They do look alike!

However, they are two different drinks with different ingredients, fermentation times and tastes.

This guide will help you distinguish between the two and decide which is the best drink for you.

Water Kefir vs. Kombucha

StarterKombucha scobyWater kefir grains
IngredientsSweet teaSweet water + fruit
Fermentation time5 to 10 days24 to 48h
TasteTea aromas, slightly more acidicTart, neutral, soft

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fresh, sparkling and tangy drink. It is made from tea fermented at room temperature.

To make kombucha, you need a kombucha scoby (mother). This mother is shaped like a beige gelatinous film, floating in fermented tea.

The mother and this liquid contain a colony of microorganisms that feed on the sweet tea. The yeast and bacteria in the scoby take about 5 to 10 days to ferment the tea into kombucha (see How to make homemade kombucha).

Kombucha scoby floating in sweet tea

The first evidence of kombucha can be found in China and Korea. It was consumed there in the form of vinegar, as a longevity elixir. Nowadays, it is consumed for its good taste and health benefits.

As it is prepared with tea, kombucha contains caffeine.

It also has different aromas depending on the tea used: black tea will give a kombucha with a certain bitterness, while green tea kombucha will be sweeter and herbaceous.

What Is Water Kefir?

Just like kombucha, water kefir is a naturally fermented, sparkling and tangy drink. It is also called fruit kefir, or tibicos.

Be advised! Water kefir is different from milk kefir.

To make it, you need water kefir grains. They are small gelatinous clumps that look like transparent crystals.

Water kefir grains, lemons and figs in a sieve

These grains contain a yeast and bacteria colony, which live in symbiosis. These microorganisms feed on sugar and minerals, which they will use to grow and enlarge kefir seeds.

Kefir ferments in 24 to 48 hours. As it contains no tea, it is caffeine-free.

Its taste is more neutral and slightly sweeter than kombucha. It can be customized by adding fruit, herbal tea, etc. (see How to make your water kefir).

In addition, water kefir has many benefits according to science.

What’s the Best Drink for You?

Both kombucha and water kefir are easy to make at home and both ferment at room temperature.

The perfect drink for you is the one that best suits your lifestyle and taste!

Water Kefir

  • Regular and fast production (24 to 48h)
  • Caffeine-free
  • More neutral and tangy taste, easy to customize

However, it is necessary to prepare fresh kefir every 48 hours. If you can easily establish a routine, kefir is perfect for you!


  • Approximately bi-weekly production
  • Contains caffeine
  • Good tangy taste and tea aromas

Kombucha takes longer to ferment but requires very little maintenance.

So, what will you choose between water kefir and kombucha?

Get Started!

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