When it comes to starting your kombucha home brew there a few essential things you need: a couple supplies, a really good set of instructions, and most importantly, a SCOBY and starter liquid from a trusted source. At YEABUCHA we’re all about the DIY experience, and we’ve learned through our own trial and error that long term success with kombucha brewing is largely dependent upon getting started with the right ingredients and supplies. Compared to many other DIY activities and hobbies, the start up costs to home brew kombucha are pretty minimal (check out our array of home brew kits here). However, we cannot emphasize enough importance of starting your home brew with the highest quality culture (SCOBY). Beginning your home brew with a healthy mother will set you up to grow countless, healthy baby SCOBYs.
Today the internet is full of pictures and stories of people who have grown a SCOBY from store bought kombucha. While this method can produce a SCOBY, we find it does not produce quality kombucha. Let’s break it down, here are 3 reasons why we do NOT suggest growing your own SCOBY from store bought kombucha:
- You start with a compromised culture. Commercial kombucha is sold for the purpose of drinking. In some brands, sweeteners and natural flavors may be added to the bottle to make to give it a sweeter taste, often mimicking soda or more popular tea beverages. Added flavors can disrupt the growth and health of the good bacteria and yeast. This compromises the strength and balance of the delicate brew ecosystem. A pure, fresh brew that grows a new, healthy SCOBY each time it ferments should have ZERO added flavors (including from the tea with which it’s brewed). Even commercial brews that are flavored with fruit and truly natural flavors can introduce bad bacteria and the potential for mold formation. Finding an unflavored commercial kombucha is not an easy job and still does not guarantee a healthy brew.
- The protective barrier during fermentation is weak. To safely ferment sweet tea and make kombucha, you need a strong protective barrier that will feed the good bacteria and yeast, while keeping the bad bacteria out. When you start your brew with a full size, health SCOBY and strong starter liquid, this barrier is immediately created. The SCOBY should be big enough to cover the entire surface area of your brewing vessel to ensure the successful aerobic and anaerobic processes during fermentation. When you rely on a bottle of commercial kombucha to grow a SCOBY, you lack this protective barrier while you wait for the bacteria to create nanofibers that eventually form a SCOBY. This leaves your brew susceptible to foreign bacteria that can harmful and contaminate your brew.
- The lack of strong starter liquid. The starter liquid, approximately 2 cups of previously brewed kombucha, is the most potent part of your brew that comes from the top of the brew when first fermentation is completed. It is vinegary in taste and is packed with healthy bacteria and yeast that ensure a successful fermentation every time you brew. Our YEABUCHA starter liquid ferments for a minimum of six weeks, ensuring it has a broad spectrum of beneficial acids and bacteria when it is sent out to our brewers. When you attempt to grow a SCOBY from a bottle of store bought kombucha, you simply do not have starter liquid. You are brewing with flavored kombucha that lacks the potency of vital fermenting acids.
While trying to grow your own SCOBY may be a fun science experiment, we would stay away from using it in the kombucha you are brewing to drink with your friends and family. Ultimately, it can set you back and produce a lower quality brew than we think you deserve. At YEABUCHA, we make sourcing high quality SCOBYs easy and affordable. By purchasing a kit through YEABUCHA you also get the support of the YEABUCHA sisters and our exclusive brewer community every step of your home brew journey. Put our SCOBYs to the test, and grab yours today in the online store!