Brewing Kombucha at Home: How to Grow a SCOBY!
After my post on Starting a Continuous Kombucha Brew System, I had plenty of people asking for a more in-depth look on how to grow a SCOBY at home. After reading about Kombucha’s plethora of beneficial enzymes, probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants, I don’t blame you!
Well, call it a coincidence, but my latest Kombucha batch molded.
Nothing was happening for about two weeks, then mold formed on top of the tea. (And no, I didn’t get pictures because I immediately freaked the f-out and sanitized everything within 3 feet… oops!)
After some research (and a moment of silence for my dead SCOBY 🙁 ), I discovered that you are not supposed to refrigerate a Kombucha SCOBY after brewing a batch. This was my original problem with batch-brewing to begin with. I don’t like the idea of transporting a live SCOBY back and forth to the fridge to be brought in and out of a state of “hibernation”.
- The entire process increases the risk of contamination. Every time you fully deconstruct a brew-system (which is every batch), you are introducing more and more bacteria.
- This could potentially be harmful bacteria you are adding to the brew-container (and/or the SCOBY itself)
- To make matters worse, refrigerating actually pushes the SCOBY culture too far into dormancy, usually killing most of it off.
- This results in a weaker Kombucha “mother”, unable to ferment large amounts of sweet tea.
- Remember, SCOBYs are living! Comprised of healthy yeasts and bacteria, a strong culture is fully capable of eliminating most problems before they’re a problem!
- This explains why so many home-brewers have bad luck with their second batch.. You’re starting off with a weak mama!
- Most recommend simply leaving the culture on the counter with sweet tea as you would normally would during a brew, leaving it for up to 6 weeks.
- Cultures for Health goes into great detail on how to store your Kombucha for longer periods
Time to start fresh! How to grow a SCOBY at home!
As I touched on in my first kombucha post, SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. I know it sounds (and looks) scary, but it’s the same idea as an equally creepy Vinegar “Mother”. I don’t know about you, but I will go to town on a bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips.
This is just how fermentation works! The bacteria and yeast is not a “disgusting” process, this is Mother Nature working at her finest! It’s the same with any fermented food! Kimchi, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and even pickles. All fermented, and all amazing for your health!
Most of these foods have that signature sour-tang, many consider to be an acquired taste, that’s okay! Try it with an open mind, and before long your body will be craving the goodness.
(I first thought Kombucha was a mislabeled bottle of salad dressing! BLEH!)
Anyways, growing a SCOBY at home could not be any easier!
As soon as I was done having a mental breakdown over my first failed batch of Kombucha, I ran to the health-food store to get my hands on some ‘booch. This method only works with the original, raw, unfiltered, 100% original formula (the 21+ kind).
(GT’s was forced to reformulate after exaggerated reports of alcohol content scared parents enough to get the product pulled from shelves. The “new” formula uses a different yeast strain, preventing further fermentation. The 21+ variety is the original GT formula, and does not actually contain alcohol.)
We refuse to do anything that would compromise our product’s integrity of effectiveness. That’s why we have chosen to modify our labeling instead of changing the way we make our products
They tell it like it is, right on every bottle! I love it!
Once you have your bottle of ‘booch, you’re just a small-scale ferment away from quickly grow a SCOBY. Be sure to sanitize the bottle with vinegar, then simply add the kombucha to a cup of sweetened tea. The sugar will feed the trace amounts of live cultures, forming your very own mother! I placed mine in a warm, undisturbed room in our house and it only took one week to grow! Yayyy! I waited for two full weeks for it to be a little bigger, and put it to work in it’s very own Continuous Brew Kombucha System. (My all-time favorite method, check it out!)
Once you have a healthy SCOBY ready to go, check out:
- Guide to Starting Continuous-Brew Kombucha System
- Bottling, Flavoring, and Second Fermenting your ‘booch
See how easy it is to produce your own Kombucha!? It’s amazing having full control of the brewing cycle, not to mention the amazing flavor combinations you can make. What are you waiting for?
Get yourself a glass jar, find a dark space (even a flipping cabinet works!), and start brewing!