The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Kombucha SCOBY: What It Is and How to Make One
Kombucha is a fermented beverage enjoyed for its unique flavor and powerful health benefits.
Though it's widely available at grocery stores and health food shops, you can make your own using tea, sugar and a SCOBY.
A SCOBY is a thick, rubbery and cloudy mass that aids the fermentation process.
This article explains what a kombucha SCOBY is and how to make your own.
What Is a Kombucha SCOBY?
A SCOBY, which stands for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast," is an ingredient used in the fermentation and production of kombucha.
Fermentation is a chemical process in which carbohydrates like sugar or starch turn into alcohol or acid (1).
The appearance of the SCOBY can vary, but it's typically dense, round, rubbery and opaque with a mild, vinegar-like smell.
Look out for mold or a strong cheese-like odor, which may indicate that the SCOBY is decaying and needs to be discarded.
The dish-like structure of the SCOBY is comprised mostly of a type of insoluble fiber known as cellulose.
It also hosts a variety of yeast and bacteria species that aid the fermentation process (2).
A symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY, aids the fermentation process of kombucha.
How It Works
Kombucha is produced by adding a SCOBY into sweetened black or green tea, then letting it ferment for 1–4 weeks.
The result is a fizzy product with a tangy, sweet and vinegar-like taste. Its specific flavors depend on how long it's left to ferment, the type of tea used and the addition of other ingredients like fruit, juice or herbs.
Fermentation also increases the concentration of probiotics—a type of beneficial bacteria in your gut with many positive health effects.
A SCOBY, when added to sweetened tea, turns the sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide and acids. The resultant kombucha contains numerous probiotics.
Selecting the Right One
If you're interested in brewing your own kombucha, obtaining a SCOBY is the first step.
You can purchase starter kits or cultures online or in certain health food stores.
You can also borrow a SCOBY from a friend who makes homemade kombucha or join an online community to find a local with a SCOBY to spare.
Because the SCOBY continues to grow with each batch of kombucha, it can be divided and shared by simply cutting off a 1-inch (2.5-cm) piece from the top and passing it on.
Although the risk of contamination is low when properly handled, be sure to discard your SCOBY immediately if you notice mold, an unpleasant smell or any signs of decay.
You can purchase a SCOBY online, find one at a health food store or borrow one from a friend. Though the risk of contamination is low, discard the SCOBY if you notice mold, unpleasant smell or other signs of decay.
How to Make Your Own
It is also possible to grow your own SCOBY.
You can do so by using raw, unflavored kombucha and 1 cup (250 ml) of green or black tea sweetened with 1–2 tablespoons (14–28 grams) of sugar.
Simply combine the kombucha and cooled tea in a jar and cover it tightly with a coffee filter or dishrag.
Place the jar in a warm spot—around 68–80°F (20–30°C)—and let it ferment for up to 30 days. As the SCOBY begins to form, it will gradually become thicker and less translucent.
Once the SCOBY is about 1/4-inch (2/3-cm) thick, you can use it to brew a new batch of kombucha using green or black tea and sugar.
Growing your own SCOBY is a simple process—you only need raw kombucha, sweetened tea and time to spare.
The Bottom Line
A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast used in the production of kombucha.
You can buy one from local or online retailers or make it at home using raw, unflavored kombucha and sweetened green or black tea.
The risk of contamination is low when properly handled. Still, discard your SCOBY if you notice mold, an unpleasant smell or other signs of decay.
Making or buying your own SCOBY allows you to brew your own kombucha, giving you constant access to a probiotic-rich, refreshing treat.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.
Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.
The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.
By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia
In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."
Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.