Kombucha SCOBY 101
Whether you’re just getting introduced to kombucha or you’ve been drinking it for a long time, without a doubt you’ve read or heard the word ‘Scoby’. No, not like the mystery-solving dog, that’s ‘Scooby’. A SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, which is nice and all, but what does it mean?
Today, we’re going to be breaking down the Kombucha SCOBY. What is it, what does it do, and how can you get some to make your very own Kombucha?
What exactly is a SCOBY?
Like we mentioned, a SCOBY is an acronym for a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s what turns sweetened tea into tasty kombucha. Originally, the SCOBY was known to be the beige-ish rubbery puck you see floating in fermentation vessels and is accompanied by its kombucha liquid, known as the “starter”. But after many years of brewing and general consensus with fellow kombucha brewers, we realize that we’ve been mislabeling the SCOBY all along. The real SCOBY, the culture itself, is actually the accompanying kombucha “starter”. What we originally thought was the SCOBY, we realize is a byproduct of the fermentation process and is now referred to as the “pellicule” or “mat”. It is also called the mother or mushroom. Normally, you will see the pellicule produce new layers during fermentation and takes the shape of your brewing vessel.
The starter is essential in producing new batches of kombucha and can be done without the pellicule. However, the pellicule does play an important role in advancing your fermentation period.
Pro tip: When you start homebrewing and you start becoming familiar with the pellicule, you might notice that new layers start to form on the top. It is perfectly safe and a good idea to separate them over time. You should be able to peel the layers with some ease. If they tear, don’t worry, the pellicule will still work just fine!
What does a SCOBY do?
Magic! Ok, maybe less magic and more science. The SCOBY is what contains the bacteria and yeast used to create kombucha. Although we can’t see it with our naked eye, a lot of hard-microscopic-work is happening during the fermentation process. The yeast portion of the SCOBY is chomping down on all those sugars creating carbon dioxide and alcohol. Then, the bacteria converts the alcohol into organic acids. In the process, by-products such as B vitamins and probiotics are created.
This makes the SCOBY so special, it houses everything you need to turn your regular sweet tea into a drink that is not only tasty, but also healthy.
How Can I Get a SCOBY?
Now that you have a little more insight into what a SCOBY is and what it does, you want to get your hands on one? Well, you’re in luck! There are 2 popular ways to get your hands on a SCOBY.
1. Buying a SCOBY from a trusted seller
The easiest way to get started is to buy a SCOBY from a trusted seller. These are a popular choice for beginners since your SCOBY often comes with both the starter and pellicule, and instructions to guide you through your first few ferments.
Shameless plug here, but we recommend the Culture Kombucha Scoby Kit. This kit contains the SCOBY, pellicule, and instructions to help you start your first ferment!
2. Join your local kombucha community
Whether it’s through a friend or community groups online, if I’ve learnt anything these past few years about the kombucha community, it’s that they are very generous and always happy to help. That’s why another popular way to get started with home brewing kombucha is simply to ask for a SCOBY.
We hope we were able to help demystify the SCOBY a little bit for you. This can be a vast topic and we’ve only scratched the surface. If you have any questions about kombucha, SCOBY’s and homebrewing, you can message us on Instagram and Facebook (give us a follow!), or email us at email@example.com.