Saturday, April 25, 2015

Can I Grow a SCOBY?

Can I Grow a SCOBY for KOMBUCHA?
I have recently been drinking kombucha purchased from my local health food store. What is kombucha?  It is a fermented black tea drink that supposedly has good gut health benefits because of the probiotics that are in the drink.  But at nearly $4.00 (current price as of this writing)  for a 16 ounce bottle of kombucha it can get a bit expensive.  So, I decided that I wanted to try to brew my own.  To do that I needed a SCOBY and kombucha starter

What is a SCOBY?  Well SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.  So basically it is a culture.  And in the case of a kombucha SCOBY, it is made up of yeasts that thrive on black tea and sugar. 

If you have a friend who makes their own kombucha you may have a resource for some starter and a SCOBY, but after asking around all I got were blank or confused looks and questions like what IS kombucha and what IS a SCOBY.  Next, I  looked at my local health food store but I could not find a SCOBY there either.  I know that a SCOBY and starter can be purchased online but my thinking (right or wrong) was maybe I grow my own SCOBY?    Once upon a time  I used to make make sour dough bread and I had to use a starter culture in my bread making.  So,  I figured that maybe I could make my own starter for my kombucha.   If it can be done for sour dough bread starter, then maybe it can be done for kombucha.....of course not the same starter as used for sour dough bread, but a starter and SCOBY used for the making of kombucha.

So after doing a bit of research this is what I did to try to make my starter and to try to grow a SCOBY.

I sterilized a one half gallon Ball canning jar and the utensils that I was going to use. 

Ingredients that I used:

6 cups (48 ounces) of bottled purified drinking water
one tablespoon of  loose organic black tea
1/2 cup of raw organic sugar
one cup of GT's Original Raw Organic Kombucha (at room temperature)

I brought the water to a boil and added the loose black tea.  I steeped the tea for about 10 or 15 minutes.  I strained out the tea leaves and added the sugar while the tea was still hot, stirring until the sugar dissolved. I let the tea cool to room temperature.  After the tea cooled I added one cup of room temperature GT's Original Raw Organic Kombucha.  I did not put a lid on my jar,  but instead I covered my jar with an unbleached coffee filter and secured it with a rubber band and then covered it with a cotton flour sack material (I got that at Walmart years ago).  I will keep it sitting out on a shelf or counter where it does not get any direct sunlight. 

SO, this is a testAn experiment!  I am not sure how long it will take for my tea to ferment and for the SCOBY to grow.  In fact, I don't even  know if  I will be able to grow a SCOBY.  But I am giving it a try.  If you are interested and want to grow your own, check back and see if I am successful.  I will update this blog to let you know what happens! 

I am keeping my fingers crossed!  I am even whispering sweet little things to it as I pass by"hello my sweet little baby SCOBY " and "grow my little baby SCOBY, grow!"  Not sure if it will help, but I talk to my plants too...... Yes..... I do.

******UPDATED 8/23/15:  Yes, I was able to grow my own scoby using the above method! I have been happily making and drinking my own homemade kombucha ever since!  As of today, August 23, 2015 I have two very full scoby hotels full of healthy scobys!  Give it a try if you love kombucha and skip the nearly $4 per bottle cost by making it yourself!


  1. Oh I do hope it grows! I was fortunate to get a Scoby from my sister in law so all the hard work was already done. But boy is it worth it! We go through 2 gallons a week! It is delicious, healthy and inexpensive! :) Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week!

    1. I can't wait! I am really looking forward to it! Thanks for the well wishes! I think everything is coming right along!

  2. If you were here in Aus I would give you some from mine. I feel guilty when I have to divide and throw them out. I got a live scoby from the health food shop as she brews her own and was dividing it. But I know you can grow your own, in a few weeks yo should have a large enough scoby to make a small batch of Kombucha. I now make 3 gallons at a time and second fement with ginger/lemon and honey.

    1. You are very kind for your intent to share! The ginger / lemon and honey sounds really good! I think baby scoby is looking pretty good, so I don't think it will be long before I will be brewing a small batch pretty soon! The ginger / lemon and honey sounds good!

  3. Yep, you can. It used to work better than it does now, since the kombucha companies seemed to change the formula of the bucha (there was something like .5% alcohol found in the old version, which I guess is a no-no). Anyway, I've done this a few times, but it needs to be warm enough in the house (like 70+ degrees). It works best that way. If it's not warm enough, you can wrap a towel around your jar and that works too. Just watch it or the whole batch ends up going to vinegar (which isn't awful, especially if you've grown your scoby!). :)

    BTW, thanks for visiting my site and for your kind comment. I want an angora too. :) (My girl is a Jersey Wooly.)

    Kristi at Stone Family Farmstead

  4. Hi Kristi! Yes you ca! LOL! I now have a LOT of scobys! I didn't have a problem at all! We keep our home really cool so I did wrap my jar with a white cotton flour sack towel and sat it on top under the counter by my refrigerator so I think that helped keep it warm enough to grow the scoby. I have been drinking on my kombucha for several weeks now and I love it and the whole process of being able to make it at home! Thanks so much for stopping in here at my blog!

  5. Hello Miss Nifty Thrifty! How timely to stumble upon your post on kombucha...just the other day the lady who I babysit for once a week, offered us a kombucha scoby...she also gave us a jar of kombucha that had just begun the fermentation process! How perfectly exciting is that...? Well, we are hoping all will go according to plan, for oh my! It tatstes so delicious:). I will have to let you know...
    I hope your scoby has started to grow and that you will be making many a jar of lovely kombucha:)
    Blessings and much love!

    1. That is exciting Kelly-Anne! I really need to update to let folks know that everything went well and I have been enjoying my kombucha for over a month now! I have even branched out and can now make the flavored kombucha! And I have lots and lots and lots of scobys now too! Yes, Kelly-Anne please do stop back and let me know how it went for you!