Kefir and kombucha have taken over the world, and everyone is okay with it. Tons of grocery stores, restaurants, and even gas stations conveniently offer both drinks now, and for good reasons. Men and women everywhere have tried these fermented beverages and are reaping the benefits.
Fermented foods usually are not favored when one jumps on the fermentation bandwagon. The flavor of fermented foods can take some getting used to.
But kombucha and kefir are a little different from fermented foods like sauerkraut. How? That’s what we’re discussing in today’s post!
So, crack open that bottle of probiotics, and let's discuss kombucha and kefir!
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What is Fermentation? Why is it Important?
Fermentation is a chemical breakdown of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms. The process is how we obtain certain foods and drinks like:
Fermentation has existed for thousands of years. Many civilizations preserved their food through fermentation long before there were refrigerators. But the chemical process of fermentation wasn’t studied closely until the 1600s.
There are three types of fermentation: Lactic acid fermentation, alcohol fermentation, and acetic acid fermentation. Kombucha and kefir require acetic acid fermentation.
Acetic acid fermentation is when starches and sugars ferment into a sour-tasting product like vinegar.
Fermentation not only preserves food to prevent spoilage, but it adds good bacteria, making the food or beverage more nutritious. This is because the sugars and starches are already pre-digested, so it’s easier for our bodies to consume them.
What is Kombucha?
We’ve discussed what is kombucha in a previous post, but let’s recap. Kombucha is a ferment made from green or black tea, sugar, and yeast. It was first discovered in China about 2,000 years ago and has slowly traveled through the West since then.
You can buy kombucha from a store or make it at home. Making kombucha takes about three weeks. The fermentation process forms a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) at the top of the beverage. The SCOBY is used to make more batches of kombucha.
Overall, making kombucha is a simple process!
What is Kefir?
Just like kombucha, we’ve also written several posts on kefir and its nutritious benefits.
Kefir is another fermented drink made from kefir grains. Basically, it’s fermented milk. Kefir is a grain-like culture of bacteria and yeast using cow milk, sheep milk, or goat milk. Kefir grain is similar to what a SCOBY does for kombucha.
Similar to kombucha, kefir has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the early people of the Caucasus Mountains, and finally made its way to the western world around the 1960s. It’s been a sought-after superfood since!
Kefir is a simple fermentation in that it only takes about 24 hours to make.
If you eat vegan and want to reap the health benefits of kefir, then have no fear! Water kefir is a good option if you omit milk from your diet. Or, you can use coconut, soy, or rice milk.
The options are endless!
The Difference Between Kombucha and Kefir
So, we understand what kombucha and kefir are and are starting to see the similarities. But what makes them different? And most importantly, is one healthier than the other?
Although both beverages are healthy and are fermented, they vary in flavor, texture, and nutrient density. So, let’s review these differences. For continuity purposes, we will be comparing kombucha to milk kefir and not water kefir.
Similarities: Both beverages have a sour flavor. Both drinks are acidic.
Differences: Kombucha will taste slightly sweeter versus kefir which will be tangier. However, kefir can be added to smoothies to increase sweetness.
Similarities: Both beverages are fizzy, like a carbonated beverage. The amount of fizziness will vary depending on if the drink is homemade or purchased from a store.
Differences: Kefir is thick like yogurt but not as thick as Greek yogurt. It’s also more creamy. Kombucha will be thin, similar to carbonated water.
Similarities: Both beverages are high in probiotics,
Differences: The nutrition content of kombucha can vary based on the tea. One cup of kombucha made from green tea contains:
- 30 calories
- 7g carbs
- 4g sugar
- Does not contain any protein, fat, or fiber
- Contains many B vitamins.
Milk kefir can also vary in nutrition content depending on the type of milk. For example, cow milk will have more fat and calories than goat milk. One cup of low-fat cow milk kefir contains:
- 110 calories
- 12g carbs
- 12g sugar
- 11g protein
- 2g fat
- Also contains calcium, vitamin A, and vitamins B12 and B2
Which Is Healthier?
The truth is, neither one is healthier than the other. Based on the information and studies about kombucha and kefir, these fermented drinks have pros and cons.
If you need to cut back on calories or are dairy-free, kombucha may be a better option. If you are looking for a healthy and delicious addition to your smoothie or need more fat content, kefir may be the right choice.
Decide what is best for your body. What works for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa.
In addition, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. We always say to listen to your body. If you experience indigestion, upset stomach, bloating, or other digestive discomforts, cut back because you may be drinking too much.
What you choose to drink may also depend on how much money you decide to spend. Kombucha and kefir are labor-intensive, so store-bought beverages are priced accordingly.
Don’t blow your budget. Just drink what you can, and most importantly, enjoy it!
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