Excerpted from the Blog at
Kombucha – that’s a funny word, isn’t it? Kombucha has been around for about 2,000 years. It is basically a sweetened tea that is fermented by a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).
Kombucha comes with tons of benefits including-
1. Detoxification- it’s abundant in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body uses to detox your system, so in essence, kombucha really helps the liver.
2. Joint Health- it contains glucosamines, which can aid in the prevention of arthritis.
3. Digestion and gut health- being naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, kombucha is a probiotic beverage. Probiotics improve digestion, fight harmful yeast overgrowth, and may increase mental clarity and mood stability.
4. Immune boosting- because this beverage is extremely antioxidant rich, it may boost your immune system and energy levels.
I know that yeast and bacteria doesn’t sound really appetizing, but lucky for us, there are many different flavors of kombucha to choose from, and almost every grocery store carries it. Some people even make their own! Have you ever tried it? Are you going to try it?
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How To Make Your Own Kombucha Scoby
What is a Scoby?
“Scoby” is actually an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. And that’s exactly what it is! A scoby is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transform sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha — think of the scoby as the coral reef of the bacteria and yeast world. It a rubbery raft that floats on the surface of the kombucha. Aside from being a home for yeast and good bacteria, the scoby seals off the fermenting kombucha from the air and protects it from outside, undesirable bacterias while it’s fermenting.
P.S. You’ll also sometimes hear scobys referred to as “kombucha mothers” or “kombcha mushrooms.” If you read or hear references to these things, know that it’s all the same thing.
How Can You Grow a Scoby from Nothing?
A scoby is a naturally occurring part of the kombucha brewing process. It’s constantly renewing itself and a new layer of scoby will grow on the surface of the old one every time you brew a batch of kombucha. You’ve also all probably bought a bottle of kombucha with a little blobby thing inside? Well, that’s actually a tiny, newly-forming scoby. This ability of the the scoby to constantly reform itself is what makes it possible for us to grow a new scoby from scratch.
You grow a new scoby from scratch by combining tea, sugar, and some pre-made kombucha. You can use homemade kombucha from a friend or store-bought kombucha, but make sure it’s a raw, unflavored variety. It also helps if you can see one of those little blobby things floating at the top or bottom of the bottle.
Is It Safe to Grow Your Own Scoby?
Part of the job of the scoby is to protect the kombucha while it ferments. This means that a jar of kombucha without a scoby is vulnerable to any bacteria, good or bad, that’s floating around the environment. This means that you need to be extra vigilant during this time: make sure the jar and utensils you use are squeaky-clean and rinsed of any soap residue; keep the growing kombucha covered and away from direct sunlight; also keep the jar somewhere out of the way where it won’t get jostled; wash your hands before touching or handling the scoby.
Keep an eye on it and refer to the pictures in the slide-show below. Bubbles, jelly-like masses, and gritty brown-colored residue are good; fuzzy black or green spots of mold are bad. The liquid in the jar should always smell fresh, tart, and slightly vinegary (this will become more pronounced the further you are in the process); if it smells cheesy, rancid, or otherwise off-putting, then something has gone wrong.
All these warning aside, I made new scobys many many times myself and never had it go wrong. There’s a bit of trust involved — it just looks gross! — but I find that if you let it be, it comes out right in the end.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a New Scoby?
It takes roughly 2 to 4 weeks to grow a new scoby from scratch. The time might be less if your kitchen is warm or longer if your kitchen is cool. In general, try to keep your kombucha at an average room temperature of about 70°F, and your scoby will form in a little over two weeks.
How Do I Use a Scoby to Make Kombucha?
Once you have a new scoby, you are ready to make your first batch of fizzy, tangy kombucha! Read all about how in this step-by-step guide:
How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home
What Is Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a scoby. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.
The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar.
The Best Jar for Brewing Kombucha
If you need a jar to get your kombucha brewing, this is our favorite 1-gallon option. It even comes with cheesecloth and a lid so you don’t have to hunt those down separately.
For more information and to purchase
MAKES 1 kombucha scoby
- 7 cups water
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (see Recipe Notes)
- 4 bags black tea, or 1 tablespoon looseleaf (see Recipe Note)
- 1 cupunflavored, unpasteurized store-bought kombucha
- 2-quart or larger saucepan
- Long-handled spoon
- 2-quart or larger glass jar, like a canning jar (not plastic or metal)
- Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
- Rubber band
Make the sweet tea. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add the tea and allow to steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Remove and discard the tea. (Alternatively, boil half the amount of water, dissolve the sugar and steep the tea, then add the remaining water to cool the tea more rapidly.)
Combine the sweet tea and kombucha in a jar. Pour the sweet tea into the jar. Pour the kombucha on top — if you see a blobby “baby scoby” in the bottom of your jar of commercial kombucha, make sure this gets transferred. (But if you don’t see one, don’t worry! Your scoby will still form.) Stir to combine.
Cover and store for 1 to 4 weeks. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. (If you develop problems with gnats or fruit flies, use a tightly woven cloth or paper towels, which will do a better job keeping the insects out of your brew.) Place the jar somewhere at average room temperature (70°F), out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Sunlight can prevent the kombucha from fermenting and the scoby from forming, so wrap the jar in a cloth if you can’t keep it away from sunlight.
First, bubbles will gather on the surface. For the first few days, nothing will happen. Then you’ll start to see groups of tiny bubbles starting to collect on the surface.
Then, the bubbles will collect into a film. After a few more days, the groups of bubbles will start to connect and form a thin, transparent, jelly-like film across the surface of the tea. You’ll also see bubbles forming around the edges of the film. This is carbon-dioxide from the fermenting tea and a sign that everything is healthy and happy!
The film will thicken into a solid, opaque layer. Over the next few days, the layer will continue to thicken and gradually become opaque. When the scoby is about 1/4-inch thick, it’s ready to be used to make kombucha tea — depending on the temperature and conditions in your kitchen, this might take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks.
The finished scoby: Your finished scoby might look a little nubbly, rough, patchy, or otherwise “not quite like a grown-up scoby.” It’s ok! Your scoby will start to smooth out and take on a uniform color over the course of a few batches of kombucha — take a look a the before and after pictures of a baby and grown-up scoby in the gallery above.
Using the liquid used to grow the scoby: The liquid used to grow the scoby will likely be too strong and vinegary to drink (and if you’re not used to drinking kombucha or very vinegary beverages, it can give you a stomach ache). You can use it to start your first batch of kombucha, or you can use it as a cleaning solution on your counters.
Covering for the jar: Cheesecloth is not ideal because it’s easy for small insects, like fruit flies, to wiggle through the layers. Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with rubber bands or twine.
Using Other Sugars: Scobys form best if you use plain, granulated table sugar. Organic sugar is fine, but avoid alternative sugars or honey.
Substituting Other Teas: Plain black tea is the best and most nutritious tea for scoby growth. For this step of growing a new kombucha, use black tea if at all possible; you can play around with other teas once you start making kombucha regularly. (See How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home)
Your scoby is forming normally and is healthy if… You see bubbles, clear jelly-like masses, opaque jelly-like masses, stringy or gritty brown bits. Also if the tea smells fresh, tart, and slightly vinegary (this aroma will become more pronounced the further into the process you go).
Your finished scoby is normal and healthy if… It’s about a quarter-inch thick and opaque. It’s fine if the scoby is bubbled or nubbly or has a rough edge. It’s also ok if it’s thinner in some parts than others or if there’s a hole. Your scoby will become smoother and more uniform as you brew more batches of kombucha.
There is a problem if… You see fuzzy black or green mold growing on top of the forming scoby, or if your tea starts to smell cheesy, rancid, or otherwise unpleasant. In any of these cases, bad bacteria has taken hold of the tea; discard this batch and start again with a fresh batch.
If you can’t tell if there’s a problem… Continue to let the tea ferment and the scoby form. If it’s a problem, it will get worse; if it’s a normal part of the process, it should normalize (or at least not get any worse!)
Swing Top Glass Bottles – Flip Top Brewing Bottles For Kombucha, Kefir, Beer – Clear Color – 16oz Size – Set of 6
– Leak Proof Easy Caps,
– Bonus Gaskets,
– Chalkboard Labels and Pen
– Fast Clean Design
For more information and to purchase
For more information and to purchase
How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home
MAKES about 1 gallon
- 3 1/2 quarts water
- 1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar works best)
- 8 bags black tea, green tea, or a mix (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
- 2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored)
- 1 scoby per fermentation jar, homemade (above) or purchased online
Optional flavoring extras for bottling
- 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit
- 2 to 3 cups fruit juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices
- Stock pot
- 1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
- Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), covvee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
- Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles
- Small funnel
Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.
Make the tea base: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.
Add the starter tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)
Transfer to jars and add the scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. (If you develop problems with gnats or fruit flies, use a tightly woven cloth or paper towels, which will do a better job keeping the insects out of your brew.)
Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.
It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.
After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.
Remove the scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
Bottle the finished kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles using the small funnel, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)
Carbonate and refrigerate the finished kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.
Make a fresh batch of kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.
- Covering for the jar: Cheesecloth is not ideal because it’s easy for small insects, like fruit flies, to wiggle through the layers. Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with rubber bands or twine.
- Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.
- Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are okay, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.
- Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.
- It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.
- Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.
- A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.
- To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.
- If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.