How to grow your own SCOBY
Now if you’re interested in growing your own SCOBY, you definitely can! All you’ll need is at least two cups of unflavored, pure kombucha. It’ll take at least a month, but it’s certainly possible and a fun experiment to try out if you've got the patience for it!
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How to grow a SCOBY
Purchase at least 2 cups (16 fl. oz) of unflavored, raw (unpasteurized) kombucha.
Pour that kombucha into a glass jar, then cover it with a breathable cotton cloth secured with a rubber band.
Leave that jar in a dark, well-ventilated spot for at least 4-5 weeks. Try not to agitate it, because even minor movements can cause the SCOBY formation to sink. If it’s particularly cold where you live, it may take 6-8 weeks.
After the SCOBY has grown to at least ½-inch thick and the kombucha has evaporated/concentrated down to about a cup of very acidic liquid, you can use it as starter tea to brew a batch of kombucha along with your newborn SCOBY.
How to brew with your new SCOBY
If you started with 2 cups of kombucha, it’ll usually evaporate and concentrate down to around 1 cup of liquid, so use that amount as starter tea to brew a half-gallon batch of kombucha.
After you’ve brewed a successful half-gallon batch with your new SCOBY, you can reserve 2 cups of finished kombucha tea from that batch to use as starter tea to brew a full gallon batch. A new SCOBY may form on the surface of each batch you brew, but even if it doesn’t, you can keep re-using your “homemade” SCOBY until it no longer produces delicious kombucha. You can also learn about SCOBY care and storing it in a SCOBY Hotel here.
Downsides of growing your own SCOBY?
In previous posts or videos on my channel, you may have heard me mention that I don’t typically recommend people grow their own SCOBYs, especially when there are so many reputable places where you can purchase one and have one shipped to you very cheaply. (And it’s usually so much quicker to order and receive a viable SCOBY in the mail than it is to wait for one to grow.)
But understandably, many people are curious about making their own SCOBY, so I decided to put it to the test using a bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha (since that’s the most prolific brand in the states where I live).
When purchasing kombucha to make your own SCOBY, make sure to purchase raw (unpasteurized), unflavored kombucha. Frankly, many mass-market kombucha producers lie about their processes and their ingredients. They may not tell you that they pasteurize their product, water it down or use yeast inhibitors to guarantee a consistent, shelf-stable product. The FDA doesn’t regulate their labels, so you may actually be drinking a bottle that tastes yummy but doesn’t actually contain live, active bacterial cultures. So if you happen to purchase one of those less-than-honest brands, your SCOBY may not grow at all. Or if it does grow, it may not be viable in the long-term or produce consistently delicious kombucha.
That said, if you buy local from small-batch, transparent producers or if you trust the brand you’re using, then of course, you’re totally free to use whatever kombucha you’d like to grow a SCOBY. But if it doesn’t work, you may want to question whether or not that brand actually makes true, pure kombucha. Or source your SCOBY from a reputable source.