Sunday, December 28, 2014

Homemade SCOBY for Making Kombucha

I refused to pay $20+ for another SCOBY, especially since you can make your own for about $3 and some items found in your kitchen.  Yes, you can make your own culture from scratch!  And I'm going to show you how...

I stumbled upon directions for making a SCOBY years ago, but since I always had a few of them on hand I never had the opportunity to make my own. Now's my chance!  I referenced the kitchn blog, just to make sure I was doing everything right, but honestly the directions are pretty much the same as brewing a batch of kombucha with a SCOBY.  If you've made kombucha before, this is a cinch!  (All the same, there are some fantastic pictures on the kitchn blog!  Check it out for more precise directions)

What you'll need:
about 7 cups filtered, non-chlorinated water
5 small tea bags (black or green-I used green)
1/2 c sugar
1 c store-bought, raw, unfiltered, non-flavored kombucha
A fermenting vessel (clear glass)

Start with brewing your tea.  Bring the water to a boil, then (off heat) add your tea bags.  Let the tea steep at least 15 minutes.  Remove tea bags and add sugar while the tea is still warm.  Let the tea cool completely.  Pour sweetened tea into your fermenting vessel and pour in the kombucha.  Cover with a towel secured with a rubber band.

If you have more than one culture sitting on your kitchen counter at once, be sure to separate them to prevent cross-contamination.  I have my sourdough and kombucha at opposite ends of my kitchen.

The SCOBY will be ready in 1-4 weeks, depending on the temperature in your home.  Since it is pretty cold here, mine will take closer to 4 weeks...

4 days later:

I noticed that "yeasties" were starting to form on the surface of my brew.  If you are familiar with kombucha, the "yeasties" are the brown tendril-like things that grow beneath (or between) your SCOBYs.  After all, SCOBY means: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.  The yeast isn't bad, but it does show me that something is alive in there!  In the upper left of the picture, you can see the baby SCOBY that was in my store-bought bottle of kombucha.  I included it in my cup of starter, just to get things moving along!  The bubbles around it tell me it is consuming the sugar in the tea and breeding more good bacteria.  Life is beautiful!

6 days later:

The new SCOBY is a thin film over my kombucha.  It is finally forming!  As I said before, it can take up to 4 weeks for the SCOBY to fully develop, so I will keep checking it daily...

1 1/2 weeks later:

As you can see, the SCOBY is starting to take shape!  The bubbles are normal- that's just co2 that was trapped underneath the developing culture.  The "yeasties" look a bit gross, but that's normal, too!

2 weeks later:

The SCOBY is gaining girth!  Since I am using a clear glass container, it is easy to see the thickness of my culture... in the pictures below, you can see its continued growth:

I still need to let the culture grow, as the thickness is not ideal.  I think one more week will suffice!

You can tell that the SCOBY is growing a bit unevenly, but it will smooth out after continued fermentation.  

3 weeks later:

That's what I'm taling about!  My SCOBY is finally thick enough and even enough to use full-time!  Other than the bubbles, my culture is an even thickness and a nice creamy-white color.  It looks healthy (no mold) and smells like a well-cultured kombucha.  

I am so pleased with how this project turned out!  :)  Now, go make your own SCOBY and enjoy some homemade kombucha!

For more info on fermenting your own kombucha, go to:


  1. Thank you for this article. This is the only site I can find that has pictures of those brown yeast spots on the surface. I've had them come up in my latest batch and had been concerned for potential mode. Many thanks!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I am glad to help out :)

  2. Thanks for all the pictures! I also started just as you did, but without any prior experience, so it is helpful to see that yours is the same as mine! The only difference is that mine is moving much faster. I went to our local organics store & a helpful clerk saw me examining the contents of their wall of kombucha for some with gunk in it, and helpfully pointed me in the right direction for getting a pretty solid little scoby right out of the bottle ... but my suspicion is it's the healthy starter that makes the difference. Anyway, thank you!

    1. I'm glad you were able to grow your own culture! There are other things to consider when growing your own, such as home temperature and location (we were living at 8400Ft altitude when I made my own). And, yes, healthy cultures make better starting points, too! :)