The Ultimate List of Fermented Drinks From Around The World
Fermented drinks like honey mead, kefir, beet kvass, kombucha, tepache, and ginger beer are easy to make, fun to drink, and loaded with probiotics that keep your gut healthy and your immune system working right.
Read on to learn all about the types of fermented drinks. They are made, their origin, and why they are so good for you.
You may know that fermented drinks and food are an easy way to incorporate healthy probiotics into your diet. But there are also many easy-to-make, alcohol-free fermented drinks that you can turn to for a healthier gut.
Gut-Healthy Probiotic Drinks
The process of fermentation made it possible to preserve food and drinks for long periods of time without spoilage.
The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast that was (and is still) used to ferment vegetables and other foods protect them from spoilage and add gut-healthy probiotics to their diet. And the enzymes that formed during the process boosted their nutritional intake.
Let’s face it; our lives are busy. There’s not a lot of time to preserve and culture vegetables and make fermented drinks such as Mead and Buttermilk from scratch. And during this time of the Coronavirus, most people are busy trying to prevent bacteria from getting on them and in them.
But did you know that our bodies are filled with “good bacteria” and “bad bacteria,” and maintaining a healthy balance between the two is integral to building a strong immune system?
Related Topic: Best Books on Gut Health
A quick and easy way to help balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut is to start incorporating fermented drinks and foods into your diet.
Furthermore, many fermented foods contain enzymes, which help the body to more effectively extract nutrition from the food source. Whether ancient people knew it or not, they benefited in many ways from fermented foods.
So, to that end, let’s take a look at a few exciting drinks from around the world. Many of these are ancient beverages, and their popularity throughout the ages demonstrates the power of fermentation.
Fermentation is a great food preservation technique. But it’s also perfect for making tons of deliciously refreshing gut-healthy beverages! If you’re looking to:
- Improve your overall immune system
- Gut health
- And mental health
These fermented drinks are perfect for adding some delicious variety to your day!
Fermented Honey Drinks: Mead
One of the most notable varieties of fermented honey drinks is mead, which is also known as honey wine. This ale-tasting beverage traces back through Norse mythology. And it has made its presence known throughout Ancient Africa, Asia, and Europe.
You can prepare this popular drink from the past with honey, water, and ale yeast. Experiment with fruits and spices to really make the flavor your own. It has its own distinct category, somewhere between beer and wine and you sip it like a beer, wine, or cider. Try this easy one-gallon Honey Mead recipe or Apple Cyser Mead recipe.
Fermented Milk Drinks
There are many different types of fermented milk drinks. Here are some of the super easy options for gut-healthy refreshment:
Russian shepherds invented milk kefir (also known as just “kefir”), which is a refreshing and tangy beverage. Kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The “grains” in Kefir grains, merely describe the look of the culture; it does not contain any real "grains" such as wheat, rye, etc.
The kefir grains are mixed with dairy milk, either cow, goat, sheep, or even coconut milk to make a refreshing probiotic-rich drink. Milk kefir is an amazing base of endless possibilities for Kefir smoothies. Try a few:
- Easy Banana Kefir Smoothie
- Blueberry Kefir Smoothie with Greens
- Blueberry Orange Vanilla Kefir Smoothie
- Carrot Turmeric Kefir Smoothie
Similarly, water kefir is prepared with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY). This is an excellent alternative to milk kefir if you’re dairy-free but still want probiotic benefits. Water kefir is fizzy and tastes like a mild lemonade drink.
Ayran (paywall), is drinkable fermented yogurt and an old mainstay of the Middle East and India, where its traditional taste is savory and salty. Much different from American yogurt, which is usually full of sugar.
The people of Iran have a similar salty yogurt drink called the Doogh that is thinner and is often left out for days to enhance its sour taste. It was popular in ancient Persia. (And its name derives from the Persian word “dooshidan,” which means “milking.”)
To achieve this refreshing summertime drink, mix yogurt with ice, water, and salt. You can garnish it with some sprigs of mint to add additional flavor.
Traditionally, buttermilk was the leftover liquid in a butter churner (after the butter had been made). While traditional buttermilk is still a popular beverage in Nepal, it’s not easy to come across in most of the world.
However, cultured buttermilk has been widely available in US grocery stores since the 1920s. Cultured buttermilk differs from traditional buttermilk because it’s been pasteurized. And then cultures get reintroduced to the buttermilk after pasteurization for a healthy drink containing several vitamins and minerals!
Fermented Alcohol Drinks
There are several types of fermented alcoholic drinks around the world. Here are some that are easy to make at home:
One of the oldest and most popular drinks in the world, beer traces back to Mesopotamia! The essential ingredients of beer are water, barely (or hops), and brewing yeast. Many studies state that beer is actually good for heart health!
If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you’re probably already familiar with this famous rice wine. Koji microbes ferment this water and rice starch mixture. And it can yield an alcohol content of up to 20%.
Wine dates back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome! People love wine for its intoxicating effects and high-end flavor. The necessary ingredients for wine are select grapes, sugar, filtered water, and wine yeast.
Chhaang is a drink that is widely prevalent across Tibet and Nepal. Mythologically it’s famous for healing properties and warding off the cold. You can make your own by pouring boiling water over barely or finger millet. Once boiled, adding yeast to the mixture allows it to ferment. The process of fermenting Chhaang does produce a small amount of alcohol which provides a warm and cozy feeling to ward off the cold during the winter months.
Non-Alcoholic “Beers” (Ginger Beer, Ginger Ale & Root Beer)
If you are looking for an alcohol-free fermented drink with a bit of a kick, you might try Ginger beer.
Ginger Beer originated in mid-18th-century Great Britain. The English made it from fermenting sugar and ginger root, and lemon. Ginger beer is much stronger than the newer and more accessible alternative, dry ginger ale.
Ginger beer is known for its robust and spicy flavors. The recipe starts with making a ginger bug first, which is a culture made from sugar and ginger. Then with a few simple steps, you can make Ginger beer.
Ginger beer’s character makes it a great drink on its own or mixed in a cocktail—like a Moscow Mule or Ginger Fizz.
Ginger Ale is not the same thing as ginger beer. While ginger beer is made to drink immediately, ginger ale (also known as ginger wine) is ginger root, sugar, and water fermented for one week or more.
Try this easy Natural Ginger AIe recipe by Wellnessmama.
Root beer is a classic North American fermented soda that is non-alcoholic (but can be, if you make it that way). Typically it’s made from fermented sarsaparilla or sassafras bark and molasses. It is famous for is sweet, frothy, cold, refreshing on a hot summer day bliss. Are you ready to make your own homemade Root beer?
Fermented Rice Drinks
Fermented rice drinks are common across Eastern Asia. They tend to have a well-loved comforting and nutty flavor. Here are a couple of tasty options for fermented rice drinks:
Darassun is a millet and rice drink from Mongolia. This recipe starts with rice cakes, which you’d then break up and ferment alongside hot water, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), and yeast.
There are many different ways to adjust these flavors to your personal tastes. So you can add sweet things such as fruits or syrups or even savory ingredients such as herbs.
Fermented Fruit Drinks
Fermented fruit drinks are super refreshing and delicious for the summertime. Here are some great options that you can enjoy:
Sweet lemonade is a popular American beverage for the summertime. And while it gives you an excellent boost of vitamin C, you can make it even better for you by adding gut-healthy cultures into it.
You can easily create your very own fermented lemonade by mixing probiotic-rich whey with lemonade and letting it sit for a few days. This is a process called Lacto-fermenting. For the best results, use fresh lemons.
Tepache is a Mexican fruity drink for the summertime. It’s slightly sweet and super delicious. If you’re throwing any pool parties this summer, tepache is a tasty and healthy drink to keep your guests cool.
You can make your own with pineapples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves- although this mixture alone isn’t alcoholic. If you want to add some alcohol by fermenting it, mix in some ale with yeast cultures.
Here is a Tepache recipe made with pineapple scraps.
Cider is a mysterious and ancient beverage whose exact origins are unknown- although it seems, in general, to be prevalent around Europe.
Today, it is a delicious fall beverage made from fermented apple juice that’s prevalent around October and November, in particular. You can enjoy this drink directly, but you could also use it to add an alcoholic kick in various sauces and dessert items!
Fermented apple cider only takes 2-4 days to fully ferment. Here is one of the easiest recipes I've ever tried for fermented Apple Cider.
Fermented Tea Drinks
Out of all the fermented tea drinks out there, kombucha certainly has had its time in the spotlight. This slightly alcoholic, carbonated, and gut-healthy beverage most likely originates from China.
There are many brands of kombucha to choose from in the grocery store, or you can make your own at home by adding a baby SCOBY into your favorite tea. (You can acquire one of these from a kombucha starter kit.) Drinking it has numerous digestive and mental health benefits. Try our simple kombucha 1-gallon recipe.
Commercial kombucha teas contain less than 0.5% alcohol, while homebrewed kombucha teas can have significantly higher amounts. You can read more about the alcohol content of kombucha here.
Jun tea is a fermented drink from green tea sweetened with raw honey and a SCOBY, similar to kombucha. While kombucha is made with sugar and black tea, Jun is made with green tea and raw honey.
Fermented Vegetable Juice
Drinking fermented vegetable juice is a great way to replenish electrolytes in your body. So keep it close for after a workout. These beverages have a plethora of potassium, sodium, magnesium, and probiotics. So they’re perfect for you. And they help with nutrient absorption.
Here is an excellent option of fermented vegetable juice to make:
Beet Kvass is a fermented, grain-based beverage from Russia that is good to drink at all times of the day. Beet kvass is a great way to keep your immune system in fantastic shape. It helps prevent infectious diseases while replenishing much-needed minerals. All you need to make beet kvass are beets, sea salt, and water.
Ready to get started making your own fermented drinks?
For a fermentation beginner, I suggest trying a few simple drinks that don’t require you to buy a lot of new equipment. Here are three staples for the Fermenters Kitchen recipe box, kefir milk, beet kvass, and kombucha.