how to grow your Kombucha scoby

How to grow your kombucha scoby

Is it hard to find a scoby for making Kombucha where you live? Don’t worry about it because there are 2 of us now. I am interested in making Kombucha at home but very few people know about probiotic kombucha in Uganda. That is the sole purpose of this write-up, “how to grow your Kombucha scoby from scratch.”

What is a Scoby?

The scoby is sometimes referred to as a “kombucha mother” or kombucha mushroom. The word Scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. A scoby is therefore the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transform sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha.  It is a rubbery raft that floats on the surface of the kombucha. Aside from being a home for yeast and good bacteria, the scoby seals off the fermenting kombucha from the air and protects it from outside, undesirable bacteria while it’s fermenting.

 Can You Grow a Scoby from Nothing?

Yes, you can. A scoby is a naturally occurring part of the kombucha brewing process. It’s constantly renewing itself and a new layer of scoby will grow on the surface of the old one every time you brew a batch of kombucha. This ability of the scoby to constantly reform itself is what makes it possible for us to grow a new scoby from scratch.

You can grow a new scoby from scratch by combining tea, sugar, and some pre-made kombucha. You can use homemade kombucha from a friend or store-bought kombucha, but make sure it’s a raw, unflavoured variety. It also helps if you can see one of those little blobby things floating at the top or bottom of the bottle.

Is It Safe to Grow Your Own Scoby from scratch?

The role of the scoby is to protect the kombucha while it ferments. This means that a fresh jar of sweetened tea without a scoby is vulnerable to any bacteria, good or bad, in the environment. Make sure the jar and utensils you use are squeaky-clean and rinsed of any soap residue; keep the growing kombucha covered and away from direct sunlight; also keep the jar somewhere out of the way where it won’t get jostled; wash your hands before touching or handling the scoby.

How Long Does It Take to Grow a New Scoby from scratch?

It will take you about 2 to 4 weeks to grow a new scoby from scratch. The time is shorter if your kitchen is warm or longer if your kitchen is cold. In general, try to keep your kombucha at an average room temperature of about 70°F, and your scoby will form in a little over two weeks.

Ingredients for growing your Kombucha Scoby

  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 bags of black tea.
  • 1 cup unflavoured, unpasteurized store-bought kombucha

Where to buy already-made kombucha in Uganda

Equipment needed for growing your kombucha scoby

  • A saucepan
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Large glass jar, like a canning jar (not plastic or metal)
  • Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
  • Rubber band

How to grow your Kombucha Scoby Step by Step

Make the sweet tea.

Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add the tea bags and allow them to steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Remove and discard the tea bags.

Combine the sweet tea and kombucha in a jar. 

Pour the sweet tea into the jar. Pour the kombucha on top, then stir to combine.

Cover and store for 1 to 4 weeks

Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. keep the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

Watch for the Bubbles

Nothing will happen for the first few days, then you’ll start to see groups of tiny bubbles starting to collect on the surface.

After a few more days, the groups of bubbles will start to connect and form a thin, transparent, jelly-like film across the surface of the tea. You’ll also see bubbles forming around the edges of the film. This is carbon dioxide from the fermenting tea and a sign that everything is healthy and happy.

Over the next few days, the layer will thicken and gradually become opaque. When the scoby is about 1/4-inch thick, it’s ready to be used to make kombucha tea.  This could take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks.


The finished scoby

 Your finished scoby might look a little nubbly, rough, and patchy. It is ok, your scoby will start to smooth out and take on a uniform colour over the course of a few batches of kombucha — take a look a the before and after pictures of a baby and grown-up scoby in the gallery above.


Using the liquid used to grow the scoby: 

The liquid used to grow the scoby will likely be too strong and vinegary to drink. You can use it to start your first batch of kombucha. It is also a good cleaning solution for your kitchen counters.

Tips to keep in mind while making a Kombucha Scoby

  • Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with a rubber band.
  • Scobys form best if you use plain, granulated table sugar, avoid alternative sugars or honey.
  • Plain black tea is the best and most nutritious tea for scoby growth. you can play around with other teas once you start making kombucha regularly.

How to know that you’re growing scoby is healthy

if you see bubbles, clear jelly-like masses, opaque jelly-like masses, or stringy or gritty brown bits. the tea smells fresh, tart, and slightly vinegary and becomes more pronounced further in the process.

The grown scoby is normal and healthy if it is about a quarter-inch thick and opaque. It’s fine if the scoby is bubbled or nubbly or has a rough edge. It’s also ok if it’s thinner in some parts than others or if there’s a hole. Your scoby will become smoother and more uniform as you brew more batches of kombucha.

How to know that there is a problem with your scoby

There is a problem if you see fuzzy black or green mould growing on top of the forming scoby, or if your tea starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant. In any of these cases, bad bacteria have taken hold of the tea; discard this batch and start again with a fresh batch.

Related: How to make Kombucha at home in Uganda

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