Homemade Kombucha Part One: How to grow your own SCOBY

What’s a SCOBY? Well, it’s the big gloopy globby thingy that makes kombucha! It actually stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast! Scoby is just easier to say.

What’s kombucha? It’s a delicious, tangy fermented tea. If you haven’t tried it yet, please do! It’s chocked full of good probiotics and it gives you a burst of energy from the caffeine in the tea. It’s really simple to make your own kombucha, because let’s face it…it’s really expensive from the store! Making it at home is so much cheaper. Plus it’s fun to watch plain sweet tea turn into a whole different critter once it is properly fermented.

So how do you grow your own scoby? Think of a scoby as a starter. If you’ve ever made sourdough bread or kefir–same idea. It’s kind of hard to find a scoby to use for a starter unless you know someone. Trust me, it’s way easier to just make your own!

1. First, buy one bottle of unflavored kombucha from the store. It’s really hard to resist the temptation to drink it on the way home…

*Note: when working with anything fermented, be sure all jars and utensils are clean. Preferably use glass, no metal, when working with live bacteria. (Good bacteria!)

2. Boil 2 cups of filtered water. (unfiltered, chlorine water may mess with the bacteria. Always use filtered for kombucha making. Don’t want to kill anything.)

I use a 2-quart measuring bowl for my scoby’s growing container.

3. Pour the boiling water into the container (remember, glass) and put in 2 tea bags, and stir in 1 tbsp sugar.

I have only ever used Luzianne family size tea bags. It’s just 100% pure black tea. Make sure it’s caffeinated, too.

4. Let the tea bags steep until the water cools, anywhere from 10-20 minutes. (I have seen recipes where you can use green tea, but I have never personally tried any other kind of tea.)

5. When the water has cooled, pour in the whole bottle of the store bought kombucha. The water needs to be cooled, not still hot, because it could hurt the bacteria and yeast in the kombucha.

6. Then, place a clean towel over your bowl, and secure it with a rubber band around the top.

7. Let it sit for a good 10 days to 2 weeks. The longer it sits, the stronger the scoby gets. I checked mine at one week, and it was still too thin. Two weeks is a perfect time length for me. I just place mine on my big table and leave it alone. Make sure kids or cats can’t step in it. (It has happened.)

8. Once the scoby has grown, it can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to make the actual kombucha drink. It will actually keep for a very very long time. I had some in my fridge for around two years, and even though I ended up throwing them out, I think they were still usable because they smelled ok. But anyways…

9. With clean hands, scoop the scoby out of the container, store it in the quart jar, and pour the liquid from the scoby bowl into the jar. This liquid will be used in your next ferment. I put a coffee filter on top and screw on the lid.

That’s it!

The next step is to make the actual kombucha drink. Stay tuned for the how-to on kombucha “brewing”!

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