What actually is a SCOBY?
You have probably already asked yourself what the word SCOBY stands for or where it comes from. SCOBY is the English abbreviation for SYMBIOTIC CULTURE OF BACTERIA AND YEASTS. So simply put a symbiosis of bacteria and yeasts.
For centuries, the term "Kombucha tea fungus" has become established in society alongside the word SCOBY. But it is not a real mushroom at all.
What does a scoby consist of and how is it structured?
The Scoby is actually not a real tea fungus. It is, in the botanical sense, a lichen made of a whitish-beige substance composed of yeasts and bacteria, rather than a fungus. This substance is in turn held together by cellulose. The yeasts and bacteria live in a symbiotic community, so to speak, and benefit each other. Yeasts, for example, produce alcohol, which in turn feeds bacteria, which then produce valuable organic acids from alcohol and oxygen.
Even though Scobys come in many different optical variations, they are usually round like a pancake and their consistency is somewhat slimy. Its surface can be smooth, but also very uneven. During the fermentation process, holes or small bulges can also appear in the scoby - this is quite normal! Depending on the liquid content, the Kombucha tea mushroom is either more or less glassy in its composition.
How does a Scoby work?
The Kombucha tea fungus initially spreads over a large area on the surface of the so-called nutrient solution. It first wants to get as much oxygen as possible. This causes the underlying tea fungus culture to thicken or a new scoby to form. The Scoby forms always new closely lying layers and becomes so ever thicker. In some cases, the scoby sinks to the bottom of the fermentation vessel. A new tea fungus then forms on the surface and the scoby at the bottom of the vessel stops growing.
We explain how you can grow your own Scoby with a little patience, the right ingredients and very simple equipment!
You will need:
- 1 large glass jar with a wide opening - rinsed well without detergent! (vinegar is a practical cleaner)
- Tea - e.g. green tea, black tea (without flavourings/artificial additives)
- Organic raw cane sugar
- Water - filtered in the best case
- unpasteurized Kombucha (e.g. Kombucha Original)
- 1 air-permeable clean cover cloth
- Environment for the scoby: 1 room with a temperature between 20 and 30 degrees
And off you go:
- Boil tea with cane sugar for 8 to 10 minutes (8g tea per liter / 60g organic cane sugar per liter)
- Pour the tea-sugar mixture into the glass jar and leave to cool, preferably overnight Important: Cover the jar with the air-permeable clean cloth and secure with a rubber band or ribbon!
- The sugar should now be completely dissolved
- Now you can finally add the unpasteurized Kombucha in a ratio of 1 to 10.
- Then secure the cloth to the jar and place the jar in a safe place.
Depending on the conditions, it may take 7 to 21 days for the kombucha fungus to form all by itself. At first, it will look like small bubbles of foam are forming on the surface of the liquid. These will become denser over time until slowly the scoby will be visible.
Thanks for reading!