Which Is Better for You: Kombucha or Water Kefir?

Rohit Panwar

Looking for water kefir vs kombucha differences? As a practising nutritionist, let me help you take a closer look.  

Fermented drinks- water kefir and kombucha have multiple benefits, but vary in a lot of aspects. Understanding the water kefir vs kombucha benefits and differences will allow you to pick the best option.  

Water Kefir Vs Kombucha: Are They Really That Different?

Before deciding which is better for you – kombucha or water kefir, let’s take a comparative overview –  

Water Kefir 

Water & Water Kefir Grains


Sweet Tea & SCOBY

Water Kefir 

1-2 Days


5-10 Days

Water Kefir 

Sour & Mild


Sour & Tart 

Water Kefir 

1-3 Cups


1-2 Cups

Water Kefir




Water Kefir




Water Kefir

Morning or Noon



Water Kefir



Very good

Water Kefir

Very Good


Very Good

Water Kefir




Water Kefir

1-2 Weeks 


1-3 Months

*Source: USDA; Quantity defined is 1 cup

How is Water Kefir Vs Kombucha Made?

Water kefir is made by adding water kefir grains to sweetened water. Water kefir grains are a mixture of bacteria and yeast that feed on the sugar to ferment the drink. 

Kombucha uses a different culture called SCOBY to ferment sweetened tea. SCOBY is a mixture of bacteria and yeast but these are different from the ones found in kefir grains.

How Long Does it Take For Water Kefir Vs Kombucha to Get Ready?

Water kefir can be prepared fairly quickly. The fermentation of sweetened water with kefir grains takes about 24 to 48 hours to complete. 

In comparison to water kefir, kombucha takes longer to ferment. It may take anywhere between 7 to 10 days before you can get the desired result. 

Does Water Kefir Taste like Kombucha?

Let’s now talk about the most important consideration – Water kefir vs kombucha taste. Water kefir is mild and slightly acidic. Its taste is somewhat similar to slightly sweet sparkling water. 

Kombucha has a comparatively stronger and more tart flavour than kefir. This fizzy drink has a hint of vinegar-like taste. 

How Much Water Kefir Vs Kombucha Can You Drink in a Day?

For healthy individuals, about 1-3 cups of water kefir a day is good enough. For kombucha, you can limit the quantity to a maximum of 2 cups because it contains caffeine. 

If you are new to these drinks, I highly recommend starting with a small amount, such as half a cup. As your body adjusts you can gradually increase your intake.

Water Kefir Vs Kombucha: The Low Calorie Option

Both water kefir and kombucha are both low in calories. However, water kefir is a lower calori option when compared to kombucha. 

However, as a consumer remember that market versions are generally flavoured or sweetened. These may contain added sugar and calories, so pick wisely or make your own at home.

Which Is More Nutritionally Diverse: Water Kefir or Kombucha?

Water kefir is rich in probiotics or good bacteria. It is also known to contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B1, B6 and B12, magnesium. 

Kombucha, if prepared properly, contains antioxidants. It also contains traces of certain B vitamins. Some of the bacteria in kombucha also act as probiotics.    


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What is the Best Time to Drink Water Kefir Vs Kombucha?

You should drink kombucha and water kefir ideally in small quantities throughout the day instead of gulping large amounts at once. This will help your body to digest it better.

I recommend drinking water kefir and kombucha either in the morning or noon. Kombucha should especially be avoided at night since it contains caffeine that can interrupt with your sleep.

Is Water Kefir or Kombucha Better For Your Gut?

Water kefir is a good source of probiotics and has a higher variety of bacterial strains compared to kombucha. This makes it better for your overall digestive health

Kombucha contains some form of good gut bacteria which can work as a probiotic. Although easier to digest, kombucha lags behind all types of kefir when it comes to digestibility. 

Which Works Better or Hydrating Your Body: Water Kefir or Kombucha?

Since both water kefir and kombucha are made with water, they can contribute to overall hydration. That being said, they are not meant as a replacement for plain water, only an addition.

Here, I would urge you to avoid flavoured kefir and kombucha. This is because they contain additional compounds that can affect the way your body absorbs water.

Water Kefir or Kombucha: The More Versatile Drink

You can enjoy water kefir plain or flavour it with fruit juices or herbs. I also sometimes use it as a base for smoothies for a probiotic boost.

Kombucha can be enjoyed as such or flavoured with fruits or spices. You can also use it as a base for mocktails or cocktails. 

Which One Has a Longer Shelf Life: Water Kefir or Kombucha?

Water kefir has a shorter shelf life than kombucha. You should consume it within a week or two after fermentation. Store it in the refrigerator to slow down fermentation and extend its shelf life.

Kombucha can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for several weeks or even months. However, over time it may become more sour and vinegary.

So, in conclusion, water kefir and kombucha are both nutritious beverages that can be included in your daily life. If you have to pick between the two, then look into your needs and preferences. 

Rohit Panwar

Hi! I'm Integrated Nutrition Coach Rohit Panwar. I hold twin Certifications from IIN, New York & SAFM, Massachusetts. I am a passionate vocalist of holistic lifestyle and have fully committed the past several years to educate & empower people towards their wellbeing. Despite a successful yet hectic corporate stint of 21+ years, I have prioritised nutriment in my life. I truly hope my personal journey from illness to wellness helps everybody reading this forge their own path.