What is a SCOBY?

SCOBY became a trending term along with the increasing popularity of kombucha. You probably heard someone you know talk about this drink and perhaps even about making a SCOBY. 

SCOBY Defined

SCOBY is an acronym that stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The term was invented by kombucha fanatic, Len Porzio because they once referred to it as the white pancake culture. Today, others call it a pellicle, yeast mat, biofilm, near lichen, or zooglea (living skin). It plays a crucial role in making kombucha because it is the mother culture that aids in fermentation. 

It appears like a thick, cloudy, and rubbery mass that takes the shape of the container of your tea. Its appearance varies though it is usually round and smells like a mild vinegar. Once the first SCOBY forms, it becomes the mother SCOBY, which produces a baby SCOBY, and the cycle goes on.

SCOBY and the Fermentation Process

Fermentation is an important process in creating the popular kombucha. It turns carbohydrates such starch and tea into acid or alcohol. This gives kombucha a taste like that of a sparkling apple cider vinegar. Fermentation is also responsible for increasing the concentration of probiotics, which have numerous health benefits. 

The SCOBY plays a crucial part in this process. After a week of fermenting the tea, a transparent blob starts to develop. This is the baby SCOBY, which becomes less translucent and whiter and thicker with time.  Its dish-like structure is composed of cellulose, an insoluble type of fiber. 

During fermentation, look out for a strong cheese-like odor. This is a signal to discard the SCOBY and start over.

SCOBY Starter Pack

There are stores that sell kombucha tea starter cultures. It’s usually part of their kombucha starter kit. The SCOBY is packed in a dehydrated state and is pathogen-tested for safety purposes. Instructions on making your own kombucha are also written on the product.

Grow your own kombucha SCOBY

You can definitely create your own SCOBY from scratch. First, you have to get a bottle of unflavored or original kombucha

Next, make 1 cup of hot black or green tea. Put 1-2 tablespoons white sugar and mixed until dissolved. Allow it to cool in room temperature.

Pour the bottle of unflavored kombucha along with the cooled tea into a glass container. Cover it with a coffee filter or a tight-weave cloth and secure with a rubber band. Make sure it is tightly covered.

Ferment your tea for 7 days on a warm spot but not under direct heat of the sun. You’ll start to see a baby SCOBY after one week. We suggest that you wait until the SCOBY grows into ¼ inch thick before brewing your first batch of kombucha. This usually appears in 30 days. 

Once your SCOBY reaches this thickness, you can now start brewing your own kombucha.

Start over if no SCOBY develops in 3 weeks and better ask a kombucha fanatic friend to help you out.