I have had milk kefir for years and I love it. I love that when you put it into milk, 24 hours later, something different results. It is clearly no longer milk! It looks and tastes very different.
I have wanted water kefir so badly and I finally got some a couple of months ago. I just wish it was as simple as milk kefir! I just got water kefir and am having a hard time with it. For the life of me, I can never tell if it is working! One test is that it is supposed to be less sweet. But it is so very sweet that I can't tell if it is less sweet. Sweet is sweet to me. At first I figured it was working because it was multiplying so rapidly. But it isn't doing that anymore. I think it might be growing but it is so much slower, it's hard to tell. I was giving it away like crazy at first because it just grew and grew! A couple of my friends told me that their water kefir (which they got from me) isn't growing anymore either. So I put some in an air tight bottle and thought that if it gets carbonated, surely it is doing something. But it didn't carbonate. I thought it was because I didn't fill the bottle up enough, I only had it half full (not sure what I was thinking there!). But my friend told me today that she put some in a bottle, up to the top, corked it, and it also didn't carbonate. And last, I used to see bubbles rising to the top of the jar when it was fermenting, but I can't see bubbles like I could before. Did we all just kill our water kefir? :(
...I would say that it doesn't sound good, but I am no expert! I just recently got some dairy kefir grains, and since they grow like crazy have started to convert the extra to water kefir. The converted grains only last me about a month or so before they stop really producing...or that's what I think. And yes, I did notice a decrease in carbonation, and it didn't taste as good. The grains themselves don't really grow, but that could just be because they are dairy grains, not water kefir grains. The completed water kefir also smells different to me once it's ready too. And I do a second fermentation (without the grains) with juice, and that gets very carbonated too. And I definitely don't feel as though I am drinking straight juice, since I can't really tolerate that much juice. But again, as the grains get older, I do notice that it does go back to being more like regular juice.
Anyway, all that to say, if you aren't getting carbonation, I think that's a bad sign. Sorry!!
Mommy to DS born 11-10-10 And DD born 6-3-13