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Establishing your scoby

Your patience will pay off

As I previously discussed in an earlier post and my how-to classes, you must remember it will take a while for the Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (scoby) to develop when you first get your homebrew kombucha going. Understanding the need for patience pays off, as scoby health is vital to your brew’s success. 

As you get started, you’ll notice after a few weeks your scoby will fully cover your vessel’s surface and begin to thicken. When it gets to be about a half-inch thick, it is time to exchange out most of the old sweet tea with a fresh batch. Remember to retain a couple of inches at the bottom, though. This is where all the good stuff hangs out.

Your scoby will keep growing and gaining more yeasts, which look like tentacles. This is also a good time to get into your weekly grove. Will you brew on Sundays? Wednesdays? It’s up to you and your schedule!

As your scoby gets thicker and builds up yeast, the first couple of batches (your weekly processes) may not deliver the full fizz and flavor you desire. Don’t fret one bit; remember, this takes time. You will notice a significant difference as your scoby matures. 

Keep in mind there are lots of beneficial yeasts and bacteria retained in the strong starter liquid during the weekly process. Just like your scoby, this affects the overall flavor the more it matures.

An optimal scoby
An optimal scoby

What does a scoby actually do?

A scoby transforms your sugary, sweet tea into a healthy kombucha. The bacteria and yeast in a mature, healthy scoby break down the tea’s sugars and convert them into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and acids. The resulting fizz and slight tang is a taste kombucha lovers crave.

More specifically, the scoby consumes your sugar and tea tannins. Yes, you read that right — your scoby is living and eating! So it is important for the scoby to be as healthy and well-established as possible.

The scoby plays another role, that of a surface protector. As your scoby gets really thick, you will notice bubbles developing underneath its surface. This is a good sign the scoby has formed a type of seal, allowing your brew to do good work.

More from The Booch Witch:

Use what you have at home for kombucha

How to Flavor Kombucha

Selecting the best fruits, fruit mixtures, and flattering herbs and spices is a creative part of the home kombucha brewing process.

Splitting your scoby

Is it Time to Split your Scoby?

Has your scoby grown thick enough to show layers? Does the top of your scoby look fresher, paler in color while your original is darkening beneath? It may be time to split.

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