Kombucha “SCOBY” is short for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, and is by far the most important part of the Kombucha making process. A Kombucha SCOBY is sometimes referred to as the mushroom (because of it’s appearance) or mother culture. The process of growing a Kombucha SCOBY usually takes about a week. If you don’t have the time or are too anxious to begin making your Kombucha, you have two options. You can buy a SCOBY or if you’re lucky enough to know another Kombucha maker, ask if they have one to spare.
What you need to grow a Kombucha SCOBY
Before starting to make your Kombucha SCOBY, you’ll want to make sure you have the following items on hand:
Bottle of Kombucha – One 16 oz bottle of RAW Kombucha will be the basis for your SCOBY batch. I prefer GT’s Original Kombucha because it’s free from additives and flavorings; best for growing SCOBY. You can however use any of your choice just make sure it’s RAW and unpasteurized. The pasturization process kills the yeast and bacteria we need to start our Kombucha SCOBY.
Mason Jar – The mason jar is what the mixture will be kept in for the fermentation process. You don’t have to use a mason jar, but I’ve found it works best and they’re easy to come by. Regardless of the container you use you’ll want to avoid using Metal or Plastic of any sort. Also make sure the jar is free from debris and soap residue. I like to pour a little boiling water in and slosh it around the jar just to make sure. If you do this, be sure to let the jar cool.
Water – It’s a general consensus that purified water should be used to ensure that all unwanted chemicals are removed. I personally prefer to use distilled water for extra precaution. Distilled water typically comes in a 1 gallon/3.78 liter bottle and can be found at any grocery store or market.
Tea Pot – While I like to use a tea pot, if you don’t have one, you can use a stainless steel pot instead. The tea pot or stainless steel pot will be used to heat the water for making the tea.
Tea (Organic is best) – Green or black tea will work. You do want to make sure it’s Organic Tea though. Organic teas are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Since Kombucha is a healthy drink it only makes sense that organic products are used whenever possible. Organic tea can be found at most grocery stores or markets and isn’t too expensive ($3-4 usd).
Sugar (Organic is best) – Sugar is the fuel for the bacteria and yeasts; making this whole process possible. Much like when choosing a tea, make sure you use a granulated Organic Sugar. Sometimes organic sugar and be a bit more difficult to find. You might want to try your local health or whole food store.
Towel and Rubber Band – A sheet of paper towel and a rubber band will be used to cover the jar. This serves two important purposes. 1. Let’s gases from fermentation escape and 2. Keeps unwanted dirt and bugs out. A coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth would also work instead of the paper towel.
Instructions for growing a Kombucha SCOBY
Step 1: Fill the tea pot (or stainless steel pot) with just over 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil.
Step 2: While water is heating up, place 1 tea bag into the clean mason jar. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the jar.
Step 3: Once water has come to a boil, add 1 cup of water to the mason jar. Stir slowly until the sugar has completely dissolved into the water. Let mixture sit until cooled to room temperature (I usually stick in the refrigerator to speed up cooling process). Once cooled, remove tea bag from sugar water.
Step 4: Pour 16 oz bottle of Kombucha into the sugar tea mixture. *Be careful not to let Kombucha come in contact with any metal. Metal is will kill bacteria and yeasts. It’s normal to see floating clumps in the Kombucha – these are the start of your Kombucha SCOBY and will speed the process along!
Step 5: Your mixture is complete. Place your paper towel over the opening of the mason jar and wrap it with the rubber band. You will want to put the jar somewhere safe, with these tips in mind:
- Keep jar out of direct sunlight
- Jar should be kept at a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees
- Do not disturb the jar during the process
- Wait 7 days then check on your SCOBY
SCOBY usually starts off as a clear or see-through film on the top of the liquid. It then changes to become more white in color. As it changes in color, it will also grow in thickness. Ideal thickness is about 1/4 inch – which can take 10-30 days. If you don’t see signs of SCOBY growth in about 20 days, dispose of the mixture and start again.
Important: Keep a close eye on your Kombucha Scoby once it begins to grow. If you notice any black or green spots, this is the start of Mold growth and you will have to start over. Stringy brown things may start to hang from under the Kombucha Scoby – this is the formation of yeast and is actually a good sign!