Behind every great batch of kombucha, there’s a great SCOBY.
One very healthy mother.
Now, acquiring and getting used to handling the SCOBY is likely the most intimidating part of the kombucha-brewing process. Aside from it being a big slimy blob of bacteria (I’m really selling this whole thing for you, right? 🙂 ) it’s not something you can just pick up at the store.
Luckily it is possible to grow your own SCOBY!
You simply need to get your hands on some quality starter kombucha. If you have a friend that brews, awesome! Get a couple of cups from her (or, better yet, you could just get a SCOBY from her since they multiply with each brew).
If you don’t (and I didn’t) get your hands on some fresh kombucha from a local brewer or health store. I used Ciara’s, which I just picked up at Whole Foods. If you live in a state where you can buy black-label kombucha that has a little bit of alcohol in it, choose that.
How to grow your own kombucha SCOBY in 10 steps
What you’ll need:
- 16 oz (2 cups) of starter kombucha
- 2 organic black, green, or white tea bags, or 2 tablespoons of loose organic tea and a tea diffuser
- Organic sugar (this is a must; the SCOBY cannot grow without the sugar)
- A large glass jar (must be glass!). I used a half-gallon glass jar because I have a small apartment and it is easier for me to handle weight-wise, but most people typically use a 1-gallon glass jar)
Keep in mind:
Cleanliness is SUPER important! All of your instruments (including your hands) must be sterile so as not to contaminate the kombucha. If you think you see mold, do not take any chances and discard the kombucha immediately.
Now, how to grow your own kombucha SCOBY in ten steps:
- Boil 2 cups of water, add the two tea bags and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- After cooled to room temperature, pour the sweetened tea into your sterilized jar (I washed mine in hot water with a natural dish soap and then microwaved it for 2 minutes just because I’m paranoid and figure that would kill off any lingering bacteria!) and add the starter kombucha.
- Cover with paper towel (preferably doubled-over) or a clean, breathable cloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Store in a warm, dry place and leave undisturbed for 5-7 days.
- During these 5-7 days, check on the progress of your SCOBY periodically. Things to look for: 1) a white film forming on top of the liquid – that’s your SCOBY! Congrats! 2) Mold – you know what this looks like. If you think you see mold, discard the contents immediately, wash and sterilize the jar, and start over.
- When the SCOBY is around ¼ inch thick, “feed” it by adding 2 more cups of sweetened tea (just as you made in step 1).
- Cover the mixture and return it to its warm, dry resting place and leave undisturbed
- When your SCOBY is ½ inch thick, it’s ready to go! Yay!
- Remove the SCOBY with clean hands (cannot stress this enough!) and transfer to new jar for brewing.
- Use 8 oz of the mixture (the top of the mixture, not the sediment in the bottom) as your starter kombucha for your first batch of kombucha and discard the rest.
That’s it! Sounds simple, right? And it is.