It’s Not the SCOBY That Makes Kombucha

The Scoby And Kombucha


Kombucha, pronounced kôm-bo͞o-CHA, is a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria. The good bacteria and yeasts eat the sugar out of the tea and make probiotics and then produce a naturally-occurring carbonation. You don't get tons of sugar because the bacteria eats it. Actually, this is what all cultured foods do. I think it is one of the wonders of the universe. I get less sugar and probiotics to boot! We love kombucha tea and the culture it contains so much that we even named our newest dog Scoby! It's a great talking point when people ask, "Why did you name him Scoby? Did you mean Scooby?" It's always fun watching my husband trying to explain what a SCOBY is!

Two Parts To The Culturing Process

There are two parts to the culturing process.  The first part is the starter tea, which is just kombucha tea that has already been made; and the second part is the SCOBY. The SCOBY (an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It is part of the culturing process that helps turn sweet tea into a delicious probiotic beverage loaded with health benefits.The SCOBY is not a mushroom as many call it, but as I said before it is a combination of bacteria and various yeasts. You want to know something super cool about kombucha tea? One of the probiotics made by the culture in kombucha, called saccharomyces boulardii, cannot be killed by antibiotics. It is super strong and is one of the most researched and used probiotics in hospitals. The reason it can't be killed by antibiotics is because it's a good yeast that is unaffected by antibiotics. Cool, right? So, if you ever do have to take an antibiotic please make sure you drink some kombucha tea while taking it.

The Starter Tea Is Most Important

It is the starter tea that is the most important thing in making kombucha. The SCOBY is not the thing that makes the tea, although it helps greatly. While many people put all the emphasis on the SCOBY, it is actually just a by product from making kombucha tea, and it helps you make more batches of tea with great success. You can actually make kombucha without a SCOBY, but it can take up to three times as long and sometimes people have problems. Part of the job of the SCOBY is giving added bacteria while it ferments, protecting the tea, and keeping it filled with plenty of good bacteria and good yeasts. So, I recommend using a SCOBY and tea, if at all possible, to get yourself a good strong brew going. But if you can't get a SCOBY and have access to some strong kombucha tea, you can try to make your own. I even made a video about this. One caveat on the video - in the time since I made that video, some changes have been made with some of the brands of store-bought kombuchas. They're not quite as strong as they used to be, so you might need to add triple the amount of starter tea that you would normally use and see if this works.

Scoby And Kombucha Tea

Once you get some starter tea and a SCOBY it will last forever and ever if you take care of it. You can share it with hundreds of others and make this world a better place to live in by filling it with good bacteria. Place your SCOBYs in your garden when you're done and your garden will love it. You can  tear it up and bury it to give the soil tons of nutrients. You will get a new SCOBY each time you make a batch of tea, so through the years you will have tons of SCOBYs. You can let them stack up in your jar as you make tea but this can take up a lot of room. If you want to remove the ones on the bottom and leave the newest one you'll have lots of room to make tea in your jar.

Check out 20 Smart Ways to Use Your Kombucha SCOBYs!

20 Ways to Use Scobys

Scoby Hotel

This picture is what we call a SCOBY hotel. Crazy looking to people who don't know what it is, but I love it. If you make kombucha every week you're going to get a lot of scobys. Take the extra scobys and set them in some kombucha tea in a jar on your counter. It is best to not store your SCOBYs in the refrigerator – room temperature works the best! If you remove your SCOBYs leaving only the newest one and it sinks to the bottom, no worries - it's ok. It will still help you make more tea and you'll get a new SCOBY on the top of your jar so it's not a problem if it sinks.

Get the recipe:

Scoby Hotel

How To Make Kombucha

Here’s my link with step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures to help you make kombucha tea.
You will see what the SCOBY looks like as it forms and makes your tea into a delicious probiotic sparkling beverage.

You can also purchase a kombucha starter in my store or get one from a friend. Pretty soon everybody will have one. I am counting on it.

Get the recipe:

How to Make Kombucha

Listen To My Podcast

There are two parts to the culturing process of Kombucha. The first part is the starter tea, which is just kombucha tea that has already been made. The second part is the SCOBY. You might be surprised to learn how you can make kombucha without a scoby. Tune it to learn more.

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