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How to make a SCOBY

How to make a SCOBY

Kombucha is a popular health food beverage that costs a small fortune to buy but is cheap and easy to make at home.  There’s only one catch, you need a kombucha mother.  The mother (more formally called a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY for short) unlocks the wonders of fermentation.  When combined with plain old sweetened black tea, she feeds on the sugars and transforms the tea into a tangy, bubbly brew that people shell out big money for at the store.

Now you can buy a scoby online but they’ll typically run you around $20 for a healthy mother.  Because I’m cheap and like to figure things out, I opted to make my own scoby for less than $5.  Here are simple instructions for making a scoby of your own!

How to make a SCOBY


  • 1 bottle of raw, unflavored Kombucha (look for a bottle with chunks of stringy yeast floating around, the more the better!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 black tea bag
  • 1 glass jar (quart size or bigger)
  • 1 kitchen towel or cheesecloth


  • Take the bottle of kombucha out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature (this step is not strictly necessary but tends to make your scoby grow faster and stronger)
  • Meanwhile pour the water into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then remove from heat.
  • Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Then add your tea bag and let it steep until it cools to room temperature (hot tea will kill the beneficial bacteria and your scoby won’t grow).
  • Once your tea cools, remove the tea bag and pour it into your glass jar (I use a 1 quart wide-mouthed mason jar).  Add the bottled kombucha and cover the top with a dish towel or cheesecloth.  Don’t use plastic wrap or a lid because it needs to have a little circulation.
  • Place the jar in a warm dark spot and let it sit undisturbed for about a week.  At this point you should see a cloudy film growing on the top of the liquid.  Once the film reaches ¼ inch thick it’s ready to be used (instructions to come).  In warm weather this may take just 1 week, in the cold it often 2-3 times that long.

Note: If you’ve never seen a scoby before, be warned – they are not pretty!  They look like gnarly jelly fish that are creamy or brownish in color and assume the shape of your container.  Unless they grow mold (which is typically greenish and/or fuzzy), they look gross but they’re actually wonderful and healthy!  If you’re a beginner and want to make sure you’ve got a healthy mama, here’s a quick link that helps you identify problems with your mother:


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