All home brewers are familiar with the look, smell and texture of the SCOBY that transforms sweet tea into fermented kombucha.
What is a SCOBY?
A SCOBY is a “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast”. It’s also been called the Kombucha “mother” or “mushroom”. It’s the home for the bacteria and yeast that transforms the fermentation of sweet tea into tart ‘booch.
What’s fascinating to see from commercial brewers Instagram photos are the range in size, color and consistency of SCOBYs. No two are the same. As Hannah Crum says in The Big Book of Kombucha “SCOBYs are like snowflakes…”
There’s plenty of pictures home brewers would recognize. Those in the glass jars, especially the multiple sets in the “SCOBY Hotels”, are essentially the size and shape any of us who brew our own work with.
What’s interesting to see that as brewers scale up so do the SCOBYs. Companies who brew in the stainless steel tanks and large wooden barrels we featured in the photographs of large batch breweries, work with SCOBYs that have grown to fill to diameter of the brewing vessel.
As the Instagram pictures show, some SCOBYs are pale and translucent, others are dark and opaque. Each batch of ‘booch refreshes and adds to the thickness of the SCOBY. Their resilience (you need a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut a mature SCOBY) allows brewers to transfer them from vessel to vessel, ensuring continued propagation of select strains.
Where to find your first SCOBY
Anyone who wants to start brewing kombucha at home can either source a SCOBY from someone who already brews (they will have plenty to spare!) or check out our Resources page where suppliers are listed who can pop one in the mail.