Felicity Evans' water kerfir will soon move from indie drink to supermarket brand

Health focus: "Factors that we can’t control like environmental pollutants, stress, water etc all impact the integrity of our gut," says Imbibe Living founder Felicity Evans.

Health focus: "Factors that we can’t control like environmental pollutants, stress, water etc all impact the integrity of our gut," says Imbibe Living founder Felicity Evans.

 Your job title includes the word alchemist - how so?

Every week, I turn a flat collection of ingredients into a sparkling probiotic delicious drink, literally alchemising water into probiotics. It’s an incredibly special process and one I am deeply in love with. 

 How and when did you discover water kefir?

I was backpacking in Guatemala and I had been suffering with a whole host of traveller-type tummy issues.  I camped up with a little Mayan family high up in the mountains, and they invited me to try a special fizzy drink that was a little sour, and touted to have many health promoting benefits. I was hooked – the taste was fresh and I felt the benefits very quickly.

Then, around four years ago, I had a health crisis and that started me on my journey into uncovering how important the gut is for overall health.  Through my own research I learnt that having good gut health is one of the keys to overall health, so I started in my kitchen trials, with a baby strapped to my back and another at my ankles, making this fizzy probiotic drink, known as water kefir. Then I put the pieces together – this was the drink that I was given all those years ago!

Remember, four years ago, kombucha and water kefir were not cool – no one knew what it was, my Birkenstocks were weird, my cultures even weirder and there were few resources out there to support me on my way! 

Four years ago, kombucha and water kefir were not cool – no one knew what it was, my Birkenstocks were weird, my cultures even weirder and there were few resources to support me.

Felicity Evans

What is water kefir?

A naturally fermented probiotic drink to help overall gut health. The living probiotics in every bottle boost gut health, help ease digestion, give you more energy, and allow your skin to glow.

Water kefir is fermented on water kefir grains/culture. The water kefir grains naturally ferment the mineral rich water they are given and in turn, leave living enzymes and probiotics ready for us to bottle and add the medicinal grade organic herbs and spices.

The culture itself is a cluster of good bacteria and yeasts held together in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. Most of the sugars are completely consumed by the living cultures leaving a low sugar drink. People are surprised that Imbibe doesn’t taste like one of those health drinks that you have to block your nose and close your eyes to drink! It’s soft on the belly and very soothing for the body. 

Does water kefir have scientifically proven benefits?

The major benefit is that it is a low sugar probiotic drink. The Imbibe range is scientifically proven to have around 26 billion active probioitcs per 1 litre bottle.  That is a fantastic result for a 100% naturally-occurring drink.  Because water kefir is a naturally fermenting living product, this number will fluctuate, but that is the average. 

How and where do you make your product?

Water kefir takes six days to craft, through various stages of fermentation. It’s a long and slow ferment that is not rushed in any way to protect the integrity of each brew. It’s all-handmade in Newcastle by a small team of artisans.

Do different flavours serve different purposes?

Yes!  We are at the forefront of blending the best of potent adaptogenic herbs and spices like activated coconut charcoal and matcha with the living probiotics for maximum health benefits.  I also always strive to add more beauty and radiance to my customer’s lives through these innovative herbs coupled with the probiotics. For example I believe Imbibe is the first water kefir in the world using activated coconut charcoal, which is a powerful detoxifier. 

Isn't a healthy diet enough to ensure gut health?

Unfortunately not. Factors that we can’t control like environmental pollutants, stress, water etc all impact the integrity of our gut.  Additionally, it’s what you can digest and absorb that is the most important thing, and Imbibe water kefir with its living probiotics help efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients.

How has your company evolved?

The foundation principals, ways of fermenting, the way we treat others, the culture and our customer – that has all stayed the same.  Nothing is rushed, quality and integrity are queen.

I have had to learn incredibly quickly an enormous array of business tasks, and also about production and how to scale a living fermented drink – all with two young kids to care for. 

When I first started, I did absolutely everything myself. In the early days, I strapped my baby to my chest and the other to my back and hand delivered the Imbibe from a milk crate out of the back of my truck!  

Imbibe is in health stores. Will it hit supermarket shelves?

Yes, it will be hitting major chains in 2017.  My aim has always been to positively impact the lives of as many people as I can.

 Any new plans? 

 I am in the beginning stages of releasing a new line of products. I have International book coming out in 2017 and am also looking at producing a world first online home fermentation course.