How to Grow a Scoby From Scratch - Using Store-Bought Kombucha

Apr 25, 2023
how to grow a scoby from store bought kombucha, scoby from scratch, kombucha at home, pellicle


The kombucha craze is the real deal and it's here to stay.

Kombucha is fizzy. It's refreshing. It's tart with a hint of sweetness. And it's oh, so good for you!

The popularity of Kombucha shows no signs of slowing down, with more and more people prioritizing their health and well-being. Brewing your own kombucha and making the necessary scoby is easy, saves you a lot of money, and gives you control over the process.

Without the glorious glob known as  a scoby and some starter tea, there would be no kombucha. Once you figure out how simple it is to grow a scoby, you'll probably never have to purchase or search for one again!

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about growing a scoby and how to get started today.



What Is a Scoby?

The word "scoby" is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It's the name for the living colony of yeast and bacteria that performs the work of transforming your tea into a fizzy, satisfying, and healthy kombucha. Some other names that a SCOBY may go by are the mother, a mother culture, a kombucha culture, a pellicle (the most accurate name), a pancake and a mushroom. A SCOBY is really neither a pancake or a mushroom but it sure looks like both!

A scoby may be strange to look at because of it's a weird, brownish, slippery blob, but its a perfect example of God hard at work.

The actual science behind a "scoby" is that the natural bacteria and yeast in the starter tea form a disc at the top of the brew as the kombucha tea ferments. The bacteria and yeast themselves live inside the tea and are so microscopic that you can't see them. This film that forms at the top will get thicker and thicker until it forms what most see as the SCOBY when really this pellicle is just the home that the bacteria and yeast built. It acts more like a sponge holding the bacteria and yeast. Sometimes kombucha brewers have problems with mold on their scoby pellicle, but really while these "sea creatures" are interesting to look at and as conversation pieces their unique nature is quite normal. SCOBYs can come in all different shapes, sizes and colors!



Why Grow Your Own?

A scoby is the "mother culture" for kombucha, similar to that found in apple cider vinegar or sourdough bread starter. This kombucha starter culture is a MUST HAVE when brewing kombucha at home. There are many ways to get a SCOBY but here are some reasons you should grow your own scoby to make kombucha.

  • Save money making your own scoby and kombucha
  • Control the ingredients
  • It's a fun and rewarding project
  • It's the gift that keeps on giving: share with family and friends
  • It's a DIY culture needed to make your own kombucha



What Do You Need to Grow a Scoby

It is simple to make a kombucha scoby and if you don't have access to a friend with a culture already this is a great option! Here is everything you need to get started.


To get started you need some basic ingredients, many of which are simple to find and many probably already in your cupboard at home!

A bottle of kombucha: Purchase an unpasteurized, unsweetened, bottle of plain (unflavoured) raw kombucha. It must have live bacteria in it. We recommend GT's Raw Plain Kombucha in the yellow or blue bottle (the blue bottle is best if you can find it!)

Water: Bottled spring water or filtered water without additives or chlorine is a must. Do not use tap water or the bleach and added chemicals will kill off your live culture.

Tea: We have a wide variety of ideal for scoby-making teas and kombucha starter teas in our online store. Generally, you should choose any tea from the Camelia Sinesis plant, including green, black, and white varieties. Avoid herbal and decaffeinated teas. Organic is best as sprays may kill off your live culture. Bagged teas will add bleach from the tea bags as well as microplastics during infusion so skip the tea bags and go for loose leaf tea.

Sugar: Organic cane sugar is ideal. Learn more about sugar and kombucha here.


For an uncomplicated scoby-making experience, make sure you gather all of the necessary supplies before you start and check that everything is well-cleaned. Here's what you'll need.

  • A small pan
  • A fine-mesh strainer
  • A quart jar 
  • A breathable, tight-weave cloth, flour sack cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels (this keeps bugs and debris out)
  • Rubber bands



Step-by-step Instructions For Growing a Scoby

It's time to make that essential part of brewing your own affordable kombucha at home! Starting a scoby in a jar takes less than 10 minutes. All you need to do is follow these simple instructions.


Step One

Bring 7 cups of water to boil in a pot. To the boiling water, add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 4-5 teaspoons of black or green tea loose leaf tea, until the sugar dissolves completely. Steep a total of 5-7 minutes.

Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Tea that is too hot or even too warm will kill the bacteria.



Step Two

Pour the cooled sweetened tea into the jar or jars, depending on what you are using (we recommend a 1/2 gallon glass jar). Then, add one cup of the store-bought kombucha to the jar(s).

Add extra filtered water to fill up to the neck of the bottle.



Step Three

Cover the jar(s) with flour sack or tea towel, paper towels, or coffee filters. Secure with rubber bands.



Step Four

Set the jar somewhere dark with a temperature of at least 70 degrees F. Keep the jar there, untouched, for 1 to 4 weeks, or until a 1/4-inch scoby has formed.

During the process, it starts as a jelly-like layer floating at the top of the jar. It then starts to form into a gelatinous, rubbery disk that will take the form of the jar it is in.



What to Do With a Scoby

Keep the scoby in the jar until you are ready to brew your first batch of kombucha. Save 1/2 cup of this starter tea along with your new SCOBY pellicle to brew the next batch. The remaining tea may be bottled or enjoyed right away. Learn more about how to brew your next batch of kombucha here.

If you have an extra scoby, don't toss it! Give it to a friend to start their own batch of kombucha or add it to your SCOBY hotel!

Make Kombucha for Pennies on the Ounce!

Making a scoby means you are on your way to making a starter kombucha until you become a pro at it. Soon enough, you'll be keeping a delicious and continuous brew of kombucha on hand!



Next, it's Time for Fizz

When you learn how to grow a scoby you learn to take control of the kombucha-making process from start to finish. While it's not a complicated process, you may have lots of questions.

Fear not! Get a quick video run down of the kombucha making process by taking our free kombucha workshop. Or dive in deep to kombucha making with our 30+ video course, The Kombucha Mastery E-Course.

I would love to know, would you share with me in the comment section below, are you NEW to making kombucha? What struggles have you had in the process? Together we can help solve kombucha brewing problems and toast to fizzy kombucha made at home!


Read More about Kombucha Brewing


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