Drinks

Culture Shock

Move over, kombucha. Kefir lemonade is summer's favorite healthy beverage
Photo: Martha Pollay
Kefir Water Lemonade

Kombucha haters, your day has come. You no longer have to force down what you've always thought tasted like funky vinegar while your probiotic-loving friends try to convince you that "you'll get used to the taste." There's another way.

Let us introduce you to water kefir, a fermented beverage, which, like kombucha, is naturally carbonated and full of probiotics. Unlike kombucha, it lacks that oh-so-appealing gelatinous glob floating around in the bottom of the bottle. It's made from kefir grains, which aren't actual grains but only look like them, and is a bright, refreshing beverage that's good for your gut.

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So what are kefir grains? They're simply bacteria and yeast (stay with us), and they just might be the next big superfood. The health blogger community is already on board, so it's time you got in on the action, too.

Posana restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, started serving the stuff as lemonade, and it's already making quite a splash. Executive chef Peter Pollay and his wife, Martha, who co-own the restaurant, started making water kefir at home about a year ago, drinking it as a morning pick-me-up or refreshing afternoon drink. When their kids took a liking to it, they knew they had to introduce it at the restaurant.

They put kefir lemonade on the menu in April, and it was an immediate hit. At brunch, they offer it as is and as a fizzy add-in for other beverages. When added to fresh juice, "It really comes alive. It brightens everything," Peter says.

Recently, they've been puréeing fresh strawberries to make kefir strawberry lemonade, and later this summer, they'll be trying it with blueberries and peaches. They might even start experimenting with the stuff in cocktails. Count us in.

If you can't make it down to Posana, you can make water kefir at home. It takes a few days, but it's real simple; most of the time is spent just waiting. Here's the process: Simply soak the grains for three to five days until they're soft and translucent, then add sugar (half a cup for every two quarts of cool water). Over the next 24 to 48 hours, keep the mixture covered, and the kefir will ferment. Then strain it and drink the liquid as is or add flavoring, such as lemon juice, fresh ginger or muddled strawberries like Posana does. Your water kefir will keep for up to three days, and you can tell your kombucha-loving friends to keep the vinegar to themselves.

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