Making a Kombucha SCOBY

I really enjoy drinking kombucha, especially the flavoured ones and wanted to make my own kombucha scoby (scoby= symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).

This post tracks my experiment in growing my own scoby to make kombucha.

The health benefits of this magical cultured tea are impressive. They include:

  • detoxification – contains many of the substances your body naturally produces to detoxify, including fighting cancer. Russian Nobel-prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn claimed kombucha cured his stomach cancer.
  • healthy joints – contains glucosamine, that powerhouse of joint healing that you can even buy in capsule form now.
  • supporting digestion and gut health – I’m a big proponent of the gut-brain connection (healthy gut = healthy brain). My family has a history of gut problems starting with reflux, GERD, diverticulitis and so on. I’m very clear that’s not part of my life story so I have eaten kefir for years, use apple cider vinegar if the burn gets me, and if I’m a bit stressed or have to use antibiotics, I use a pricey probiotic supplement. So far so good 🙂
  • a healthy digestive system makes a health immune system.
  • it’s also a blood thinner, and apparently the reason for the low rates of heart attack in countries where it’s a natural part of the diet – mostly Asian countries where naturally fermented foods are highly prized.
  • loaded with enzymes and vitamins that you might not get elsewhere in your diet.
  • gives you a great energy boost! All those B Vitamins and detox goodies will ramp up energy.

 I know, it’s a lot of health claims for one little drink right? There is some research which backs it up (bottom of page) but mostly I’m all for keeping things simple. Our bodies like fermented foods; they’re easy to digest and are loaded with bacteria that our bodies love. So I’m willing to give it a try, if only for the claim that energy levels will begin to be noticeably higher within about a week. Post-CSF-repair-surgery and struggling to honour my body’s need for more sleep to aid recovery, I’m so looking forward to that! 🙂

While I enjoy a daily drink of kombucha, I don’t much like paying $4.99 a bottle for it!

I don’t know anyone who makes their own and could share a scoby with me , and I’m a bit leery of buying one through the mail – maybe it will die? Maybe it won’t be good? And the ones I’ve seen start at around $30 plus postage.

I stumbled across this post about growing your own kombucha Scoby at nutritionist Sarah Ramsden’s site.

I’ve picked up a fresh bottle and am having a go! 

Day One – Starting my Kombucha Scoby

It’s so easy – into a clean glass bowl, add about one cup of kombucha. I poured myself half a glass from this 330ml bottle, and tipped the rest into a clean glass jug.

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Pour one cup of kombucha into a clean glass bowl

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freshly poured kombucha

 Cover with a cloth and leave. Mine is sitting on my bench at room temperature, with a clean teatowel tucked around it so none of our lovely sub tropical bugs can get into it 🙂

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fresh fizzing kombucha

As you can see my kombucha is red – it’s a delicious raspberry flavour.

Let’s see what happens, I’ll update. Sarah says it will take about four days for the scoby to be visible.

(My science student daughter is horrified – she thinks kefir is gross-looking and won’t touch it, and she wants me to keep this kombucha scoby well out of sight. Want to take bets on how long it will be before she’s chopping off a piece to look at it under a microscope? :))

Day Three of Making my Own Kombucha Scoby

Since I wrote the first part of this post I’ve been reading a bit more about making a kombucha scoby.

Some sites say that if you try to grow it from a commercially-produced bottle of kombucha, a scoby won’t grow – something about reformulating to remove alcohol to comply with local laws?

So I was a bit concerned mine wouldn’t grow. I didn’t check it yesterday (family stuff) but I looked this morning, less than 48 hours later and there’s definitely something happening!

Scoby growing - day 3

Scoby growing – day 3

As you can see – something is growing in the tea – I’m guessing/hoping it’s a scoby 🙂

Some of the articles I read said that growing from a flavoured tea resulted in a weak scoby that takes weeks to grow.

Not good news!

I did find a local producer of commercial kombucha who said their non-flavoured bottled drink will happily grow a scoby.

They also happen to sell kombucha home brewing kits at the Northey St markets every weekend so there is a fall back if this doesn’t work.

Not that I want to put a hex on my experiment but it’s good to know there are other options.

Day Four

This isn’t a great picture – I needed to move away from the skylight in my kitchen and the light wasn’t as good, But you can see the swirly-goopy thing from yesterday has grown a little more, and now has broken the surface.

It looks like the ‘mushroom’ is starting to grow now!

It’s much cooler today, and rainy. Apparently scoby growth slows down in cooler weather. It’s still mid-20s C so not cold by any means!

Day 4 - the 'mushroom' is beginning to form

Day 4 – the ‘mushroom’ is beginning to form on the surface of the kombucha starter

Day Five – making my own kombucha starter

Hmmm it occurs to me that I’m really GROWING my own kombucha starter rather than making one. Anyway 🙂

Here’s day five – it’s got this creamy white dome over the spots from yesterday. The entire surface of the liquid is now covered with a film that looks a couple of mm thick.

It smells kind of sour.

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Day Five – a creamy dome is forming, and the surface is covered with a film

Day Six

So this is getting interesting! The dome has turned very creamy, and it’s sprouting little domes alongside itself…The film on the surface is thickening up, it looks kind of oily, almost…

When I lift the cloth off to check the progress, the sour smell is very strong! From my kefir experience I’m guessing the sour smell is normal.

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Day 6 of growing my own kombucha starter

 

Another update tomorrow.

Read about health benefits of kombucha documented by scientists and doctors.

Tell us what you think - you know you want to ;)