I went to an itty bitty VERY Baptist college when I first ventured into kombucha. Did I mention it was small and Baptist? If you know anything about the Baptist faith, because yes it is it’s own religion entirely, you know that they’re tee-totaler’s. I, however, was the ugly duckling of campus as a reformed Presbyterian; man oh man did my theology professors love me. Not. We were required to live on campus all four years which included, for many of us, our twenty-first year of life. I was a good little Presbyterian and obeyed their rules. I didn’t bring or hide alcohol in my townhome……like the majority of my Baptist counterparts. I swear there was enough booze hidden in most peoples homes to pickle the entire campus. But I digress. When I first ventured into my home fermentation journey, I started with Kombucha and naturally wanted to grow my own SCOBY. Bottled kombucha at Whole Paycheck was just that, my whole paycheck; so brewing my own appealed to me to save a lot of money as well. My very Baptist, very prudish roommates were convinced I was brewing satan’s liquor in our kitchen as I found out by being informed, mid class, that apartment life was in the middle of raiding my home on the hunt for this home brewed booze. Needless to say, they found nothing and soon were educated that the round, rubbery, slimy, disk thing sitting in a jar on the counter was nothing more than tea, sugar, and water. No alcohol content is present at the end of kombucha fermenting, or most lacto fermented beverages for that matter. Definitely one of my fondest memories from my college experience. It’ll make a great story for the kids one day. The time when mom was raided by apartment life and campus police for having………tea.
For those of you who aren’t submersed into the world of fermentation, SCOBY stand for: Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a pretty generic term for the powerhouse that is a SCOBY. When I dove head first into the home fermentation world there wasn’t much on the internet at the time, especially about growing your own SCOBY. If anything, there were more words of caution that growing your own was nigh impossible and you might as well buy one on the internet or get one from a friend if they happened to have extras. It was a little mysterious as to how SCOBY’s came about exactly, kind of like kefir grains. Needless to say, I ignored the nay sayers and took a giant leap of fermentation faith. I formulated this recipe entirely on my own with a little college ingenuity thinking this must be how it worked. So I bought a bottle of plain kombucha that had a decent amount of yeast on the bottle, brought it home, and put on my thinking cap.
After having done this a few different times in my life, I can attest that you don’t need a plain kombucha flavor to make this successful. If you have some that does happened to be second fermented with a different flavor, it will work just as well and it won’t make your batches from here on out that same flavor. I will caution you not to use any flavors that might have straight up pureed fruit in them, like the GT Mystic Mango; that might not yield the best of results. I probably also wouldn’t use any of the chlorophyll ones either, unless you want a green SCOBY ha.
These are the only things you need to grow your own SCOBY for home kombucha brew.
1 Bottle of kombucha with a decent amount of yeast at the bottom (plain if you have it but any other clear flavors will work)
1 Bag of plain black tea and plain green tea (no earl grey, the oils will mess up the SCOBY formation)
1 C filtered water (Chlorine free if you can and not tap)
1/4 C Organic sugar
1 Wide mouth quart mason jar
Bring the water to a boil
Pour into the quart mason jar, careful not to shatter the glass, and dissolve the sugar into the hot water
Add the two tea bags and let the tea mixture sit out till room temp. I mean it when I say room temp. Let it sit all day if you have too.
Once the tea is room temp add the bottom half of your kombucha (roughly 8oz) to the jar and mix it a round a bit.
Cover the jar with cheese cloth, a dishtowel, or coffee filter and secure.
Let it sit out and grow.
It’s really is as simple as that. I’ve never had a failure in ten years of growing my own SCOBY’s and brewing my own kombucha. Ideally you’ll only have to do this once, but I’ve had to grow a few new ones over the years with moves or long breaks in brewing (although you can absolutely store them to use later). You’ll want to let it get about 1.5-2” in thickness before you take it out and move it into a larger vessel for brewing. And it will duplicate pretty much every time you brew a batch of kombucha. Before long you’ll have more SCOBY’s than you know what to do with and then I’ll teach ya’ll have to make dog treats with your hotel of SCOBY’s.
It will take about two weeks for it to grow. Sometimes less, depending on how much natural yeast is in the air of your home. Once it’s strong and fully grown it will be ready for it’s first feeding. I do this by simply making a normal gallon of kombucha brew tea and sticking the new SCOBY in that tea mixture. You can drink what brews or pitch it and drink the next batch, totally up to you. I usually drink the first batch as it’s never not been strong normal komobucha for me.
If you want to find all of my favorite jars and other brewing equipment (although you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen) check our my “favorites” tab and find everything there!
Alrighty ya’ll, this is part one! So go grow some SCOBY’s and check back here for a post on how to brew your first batch of kombucha! After that we’ll talk all about second fermentation and different flavors!
Tell me if you’ve done this before and how it’s worked out for you; if you’ve done anything different etc! And let me know if you’re just jumping into the world of home brewing and taking a stab at growing your own SCOBY! I promise it really is this simple!
~ Hippie Hayden