How to Make Tibicos (Water Kefir)

Recipe – Tibicos or Water Kefir

Gluten Free  |  Dairy Free  |  Nut Free  |  Vegan

Tibicos, or Water Kefir grains, feast on sugar water and produce a beverage that’s full of friendly bacteria and yeasts.  For the second fermentation, fruit, juice or botanicals are added to enhance colour and flavour and produce a lightly carbonated drink.  Compared to Kombucha, Tibicos is much less acidic, giving it a milder flavour that is often preferred by children.


This recipe makes 2 litres of Tibicos

  • ½ cup raw organic sugar
  • ½ litre boiling water
  • 1 ½ litres cold water
  • 1 dried fig (or other dried fruit)
  • ½ organic lemon or lime
  • ¼ cup Water Kefir grains
  • Optional minerals:  ½ teaspoon unsulphured molasses, ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda, ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, or ½ egg shell (washed well).


  • 3 litre glass jar or drink dispenser
  • Circle of cotton cloth to cover the top of the jar and a rubber band
  • 2 x 1 litre glass bottles with flip tops
  • Fruit, herbs and spices to flavour (see information about second fermentation below)


    1. Place ½ cup raw organic sugar in a heat proof bowl.

    2. Pour over ½ litre of boiling water and stir until dissolved.

    3. Add 1 ½ litres cold water and stir to combine.

    4. Place this 2 litres of sweet water into a 3 litre glass jar or glass drink dispenser with a plastic tap.

    5. Leave to cool completely to room temperature.  Cooling the sweet water is essential because the Water Kefir grains will be damaged in hot liquid.

    6. Add ¼ cup Tibicos or Water Kefir grains to the liquid.

    7. Add 1 large dried fig and ½ an organic lemon or lime cut into wedges and seeds removed.

    8. Optional – you may also like to add minerals to your Tibicos at this stage.  Try ½ teaspoon unsulphured molasses, ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda, ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt, or ½ egg shell (washed well).

    9. Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.  Leave at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for approximately 48 hours.  (Leave longer in winter and less time in summer.)

    10. After 24 hours it’s time to start tasting your Tibicos.  The grains will eat the sugar in your brew and it will become less sweet.  Taste at least daily, or more often if you can, and when you find the perfect balance of sweet and sour, it’s time to bottle your brew ready for the second fermentation.

    11. Decant your fermented brew into two 1 litre flip-top, glass bottles.  Make sure you use quality, lead-free bottles that are designed to withstand the frizzy pressure.

    12. Drain the Kefir Grains into a large sieve and wash them under cold water ready for the next brew.  If you’re not making your next brew immediately, reserve one cup of the Tibicos to store your Water Kefir grains until next needed.  Place the grains and Tibicos in a glass jar with a tightly secured cotton cloth cover and store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.  Your grains will multiply and grow with each batch of Tibicos you make, so when you have more than you need, simply start another small jar to keep as a back up or to give to a friend.  Surplus grains can be feed to poultry or used in your garden.

    13. You might prefer to leave your finished Tibicos without adding any additional flavour.  Simply store in the refrigerator where further fermentation will be slowed until you’re ready to drink.

    14. Alternatively, add flavours for a second fermentation (see below).

    15. Enjoy!

Second Fermentation

Tibicos can be enhanced through a second fermentation with the addition of various fruit and aromatics. 

The second fermentation is the time to add colour and extra fizz, and experiment with your favourite flavour combinations.

    1. Place your selected fruit, herbs and spices directly into each 1 litre glass bottle.  Decant the unflavoured Tibicos into the bottle leaving a little air space at the top.  Then seal tightly.

    2. Leave the sealed bottle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1-2 days

    3. Taste test for carbonation and refrigerate when the taste and fizz are perfect for your taste buds.

    4. If preferred, the added fruit, herbs and spices can be strained out before serving.

    5. Serve cold.

Delicious Flavour Combinations

Here are some of my favourite additions for the second fermentation.  Quantities listed are suggestions for each 1 litre bottle.  Select your favourite combination from the list below or experiment with the fruit and flavours you most enjoy:

    1. Pulp of 2 large Passionfruit and ½ Vanilla Bean (cut length-ways, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence).

    2. 12 Raspberries (fresh or frozen) and 4 fresh Mint leaves (chopped).

    3. 1 Lemon (cut into thin wedges, or ¼ cup lemon juice) and a 2 cm piece of Ginger (cut into sticks, or ½ teaspoon dried Ginger powder).

    4. 1 Pear (cut into pieces, or ½ cup pear juice), a 2 cm piece of Turmeric (cut into sticks, or ½ teaspoon dried Turmeric powder), and 2 Cardamom pods (lightly crushed).

    5. 2 large Strawberries (cut into pieces, or 4-6 small strawberries) and 4 fresh sweet Basil leaves (chopped).

    6. 1 Apple (cut into pieces, or ½ cup apple juice), 1 Cinnamon stick (lightly crushed, or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon).

    7. 20 Blueberries (fresh or frozen) and 1 Lemon (cut into thin wedges, or ¼ cup lemon juice).

    8. ¼ cup Pineapple pieces (fresh, frozen or canned) and 1 Lime (cut into thin wedges, or ¼ cup lime juice).

Experiment with any of the following additives to find your personal favourites:

  • Apricot, Blackberry, Chai, Chamomile, Cherry, Cranberry, Elderberry, Fig, Goji Berry, Grapefruit, Guava, Kiwi Fruit, Lychee, Mango, Melon, Mulberry, Nectarine, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Persimmon, Plum, Pomegranate, Rhubarb, Rose Hip, Rosella, Spice Blends or Watermelon.

Top Tips

    • Use filtered, rain or spring water.  Town water contains chlorine that can damage the Water Kefir grains, so boil or leave it at room temperature for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

    • The sugar is added to the brew to feed the Water Kefir Grains (not you) and is an essential part of the fermentation process.  Very little sweetness will be left after the first fermentation. 

    • Use glass for your brewing vessel, or high-grade stainless steel (not plastic or crystal).  This can be a large glass jar or a drink dispenser with a plastic tap.  The tap is very useful for regular taste-testing and for decanting your finished brew.

    • Use a cotton cloth to cover your brewing vessel.  The Water Kefir grains need to breathe but the weave needs to be fine enough to exclude fruit fly and dust.

    • Swing-top glass bottles make it very easy to check carbonation levels in the second fermentation.

    • Make sure all fruit, herbs and spices for your second fermentation are cut small enough so they can easily be washed from the bottle when finished.

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