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What is a SCOBY?

October 13, 2016

When you see a kombucha brew in process, you can’t help but notice the SCOBY resting on top. The strange, mushroom-like growth that somehow turns regular black tea into a delicious health drink has many wondering, what is a SCOBY?

 

What is a SCOBY?

A SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), also known as the “mother” or “mushroom,” isn’t a mushroom or fungus at all. In fact, it is a special group of microorganisms that work together to ferment sweetened black or green tea into kombucha. The process is just like pickling cucumbers, for example, or brewing beer.

 

SCOBY and Fermentation

Fermented foods and drinks like kombucha aren’t quite as popular today as they were centuries ago, but they were once an ideal way to store food and drinks for a long time without spoiling. During fermentation, the bacteria and yeast consume the sugars and produce acids which preserve the food. They also out-compete bad microorganisms that make us sick, such as mold. When done correctly, fermentation can protect food from spoiling, greatly increase its shelf life, and even enhance its health benefits and nutrition content.

 

SCOBY Microorganisms

There are dozens of different species of yeast and bacteria that help ferment foods and drinks. The kombucha SCOBY is often made of the following:

  • Gluconacetobacter
  • Acetobacter
  • Lactobacillus
  • Zygosaccharomyces

 

These SCOBY microorganisms not only turn the tea into kombucha, they are also great for the body’s digestive and immune system, often referred to as probiotics. The unique colony that makes up the SCOBY also limits the production of sugar into alcohol, keeping kombucha a virtually alcohol-free alternative to beer and other fermented beverages.

 

The kombucha SCOBY might look a little strange, but this living, breathing colony of microorganisms is hard at work turning simple tea and sugar into the amazing beverage we know and love.

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Try all our
kombucha
flavors