Kombucha and kefir aren’t exactly trendy new millennial discoveries, though there’s been a growing fascination with the fermented drinks in recent years. Of late, a wave of local makers has swept through Singapore too, surfacing home brewers and homegrown brands that preach the good gut news of probiotics.
If you’re new to both digestive aids, just know that kombucha is a sweetened, slightly fizzy tea that’s been fermented with cultures called SCOBYs (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Meanwhile, kefir refers to a fermented milk drink that’s similar to, but not as thick, as yogurt. There’s also a non-dairy version made with water kefir grains, which is popular among vegans and people who are lactose intolerant.
Think of ‘em as tasty beverages that, while on the pricey side, are way better for you than your regular bubble tea or soda. Said health benefits include improved gut health, stronger immunity, detoxification, and reduced bloating.
So to get started (or to continue on your journey of finding your favorite kombucha/kefir), check out these local brewers below.
Craft & Culture may only be a couple years old, but its co-founding duo have more than a decades’ worth of brewing experience between them. With backgrounds in biomedical sciences and engineering, they’re both pros at their respective specializations – Winnie in kombucha and Zhiwei in kefir – which makes it easier for customers to order both types of drinks from the same source.
Here, the kombucha ($6.50/250ml) is made with black tea, cane sugar, water, and cultures, and it’s a mildly tart, slightly fizzy beverage in its original form. You can also mix it up with flavors like ginger chia, lychee, strawberry lemonade, and other seasonal blends.
As for the milk kefir ($6.50/250ml), it finds a smooth middle ground between yogurt and Yakult – except it’s chock full of loads more probiotic bacteria strands. Just like plain yogurt, the tangy original option may not be the easiest to consume (though you can sweeten it with fruit or granola), but variations like blueberry and mango are so tasty, you’ll find yourself looking forward to guzzling each bottle.
Available for orders online.
Founder Melissa Mak is known among the local home brewing circle as the creator of SG Fermentation Friends, and what started as a 2015 Facebook group interested in probiotics has since led her to create Fizzicle.
Here’s where it differs slightly from kombucha.
Fizzicle is touted as the only producer of junboocha, which is said to be the healthier sister, since it’s made with raw wildflower honey instead of sugar. The brand concocts the good stuff in flavors ($7.50-$8.50/270ml) like pink guava, passion fruit with mint, and a deliciously potent ginger rendition. Still, its original Number 1, blended with more than 10 ingredients, remains the most sought-after as the easiest to drink.
You can also try the immunity booster made of Earl Grey and Trigona honey for times when the flu bug goes around, or the lovely, caffeine-free Calmboocha blend consisting of green rooibos, rose buds, blueberries, cinnamon, and lavender. It’s so soothing and pleasantly sweet that we could sip on all day.
Kombynation’s founders discovered their love for kombucha in Europe, and subsequently took advantage of their background in biological sciences to recreate it in Singapore.
Their original flavor, a tangy and effervescent drink, is a good introduction to the probiotic product ($7/330ml). But if you’d like to venture further, try other options like mixed berries and peach, pineapple with organic chia seeds (for your dose of omega 3 and vitamin c), and ginger with turmeric and passion fruit.
The brand also hosts the occasional brewing workshop and wellness events like kombucha yoga (think of it as the healthier form of beer yoga).
Available for orders online.
Despite its name, the store serves kombucha along with milk and water kefir in small batches, using ingredients like organic cane sugar and hormone- and antibiotic-free milk from Australia. The kombucha, fermented for two weeks, only comes in original ($8/400ml), but the brand offers a much wider range of kefir and kefir-related sweet treats.
From plain milk kefir (from $5.50/320ml) in cinnamon and turmeric flavors to acai berry milk kefir to dairy-free water kefir ($4/320ml) in passion fruit, ginger lime, and blueberry mixes, there’s plenty to try, even for the lactose-intolerant.
Oh, and if you’d like a healthier dessert alternative (without a side of guilt), try the kefir parfait with fruits and granola (from $3.90), or grab a kefir smoothie (from $5.20) with blends such as mixed berries, lychee mango, and pineapple dragonfruit.
Available for orders online and in-store at #01-06 Vibes @ East Coast, 308 Telok Kurau Rd, or at stockists like That Health Shop and Eat Organic.
Forget bubble tea. This tea bar’s fermented refreshments won’t waste your calories like pearl milk teas do. It’s been gaining popularity with the after-lunch CBD crowd since its launch this year, which is no surprise, since the drinks taste similar to sweet tea, but with added benefits.
Just like your regular boba shop, the orders here start with a base choice of pure tea ($3.20), kombucha ($4.80), and fermented lemonade ($4.80). Next, add your preferred flavors from a list that includes French rose, citrus mint, hibiscus hawthorn, lemongrass, and matcha, then adjust your sweetness level accordingly (the amount only goes up to 50 percent). Finally, toss in toppings ($0.80 each) like chestnut pearls, Earl Grey jelly, chia seed jelly, and popping pearls.
If you have companions who aren’t totally on board with the probiotic stuff, the store also offers tea lattes and smoothies.
Available at #01-04 Royal Group Building, 3 Phillip St. Mon-Fri 10:30am-7:30pm.
It was a struggle with eczema and sinusitis in her teenage years that led Yocha founder Amanda Tan to discover kombucha. Since then, she’s been hooked. Using locally-sourced ingredients to churn out her bottled blends ($8.80/400ml), she whips ’em up them in six flavors, including hibiscus and pineapple (to strengthen immunity and help with digestion), Earl Grey and lavender (a calming mix), and lemon and mint (for that vit c boost).
Oh, and if you’d rather nibble on your daily dose of probiotics, try the kombucha jelly ($15/packet of 20). Each wobbly, bite-sized shape is made with konnyaku jelly powder, organic raw cane sugar, and fresh fruits, with a sprinkle of chia seeds here and there. But on a side note, don’t get it mixed up with Yocha Tea & Desserts – that one’s a bubble tea joint serving sugary drinks and treats.
Available for orders online and at stockists like Clan Café, Mahota Kitchen & Market, Wild Honey, and PPP Coffee.
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This article, Probiotic brews: Where to get locally-made kombucha and kefir in Singapore, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!