Tea and sugar are the only ingredients that go into kombucha. Once a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast is added, the SCOBY ferments sugars and releases enzymes, organic acids, vitamins and minerals. A kombucha SCOBY is responsible for the balancing, energizing and revitalizing benefits of this beverage. Here are nine of the most interesting facts about the SCOBY used to brew kombucha.
1. Bacteria and Yeast Coexist in Kombucha SCOBY
The SCOBY, which is also called the “mother,” is introduced to kombucha brewing vessels containing room-temperature sweetened tea along with starter liquid from an established brew. Over the next one to two weeks, the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY break down the sugar in the tea and release the probiotics present in the finished kombucha.
Keeping a brew covered with breathable material and feeding a SCOBY are essential to maintain a desirable balance of bacteria and yeast in a brew. Kombucha is an aerobic fermentation that needs exposure to oxygen for chemical reactions to take place. To keep mold at bay, kombucha should have a starting pH level at or under 4.5 and a final pH between 2.5 and 3.5.
2. SCOBYs Are Also Sometimes Called Mushrooms
Another conversational term for a SCOBY or kombucha mother is a mushroom. Although a SCOBY resembles a mushroom cap, this culture is not technically a type of mushroom.
Specifically, a kombucha SCOBY consists of acetic acid bacteria and osmophilic yeast species in the form of a zoogleal mat or biofilm. It is necessary to transfer a SCOBY between sterile brewing vessels after each brew in a small vessel or periodically when brewing kombucha on a continuous basis.
3. SCOBYs Convert Tea and Sugar Into Kombucha
During the seven to 21 days during which a brew goes from sweetened tea with a SCOBY and starter liquid through becoming progressively stronger kombucha until becoming a form of vinegar, a SCOBY is feeding on the sugars present in the mixture.
Many liquid kombucha brands and independent brewers draw off a batch of kombucha after seven to 14 days. Fruits and juices can be added to a mixture to start a process of secondary fermentation at room temperature. Refrigeration slows the digestion process and can limit the amount of alcohol produced during a brew.
4. A SCOBY Can Grow and Make More Kombucha
As a kombucha brew matures, the single SCOBY that started the process may multiply. This is the reason why some brewers refer to the SCOBY as the mother. Pieces of a SCOBY or any additional cultures that grow in a brew can be used to start new brews with a small amount of starter liquid.
The kombucha brewing process may produce a number of SCOBYs over time. These cultures were traditionally gifted, but they are now also sold. Backup kombucha SCOBYs can also be stored in a glass jar or vessel referred to as a SCOBY hotel until you are ready to brew more batches.
5. Kombucha Contains Low Levels of Alcohol
Every kombucha brew contains at least some level of alcohol. The low alcohol classification in the UK applies to drinks that contain between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol by volume. Most bottled kombucha has alcohol levels between 0.1% and 1.2%.
Commercial kombucha brewers may take measures to control the amount of alcohol a batch develops during the brewing process. In general, shorter brews are less alcoholic, as is kombucha fermented at lower temperatures. Non-heat distillation can also lower alcohol levels while leaving probiotics intact.
6. A Kombucha SCOBY Can Be Dried
A SCOBY can stand up to a wide range of conditions. Some brewers intentionally dry out SCOBYs for other applications, while others may simply forget about a SCOBY hotel until the liquid stored with the cultures has evaporated.
There are many uses for SCOBYs in wet or dry form, including as plant fertilizer. Superfoods Company Instant Kombucha Powder is made with kombucha brewed with black tea plants grown in the Alishan mountains of Taiwan that are fertilized with SCOBYs from previous brews.
7. Dried Kombucha Can Produce a Textile
A dried kombucha SCOBY can be used to make a leatherlike textile called microbial cellulose. This material is useful for a variety of applications. Other interesting dried SCOBY uses include protective dressings for burns or scars that can hold more water than gauze bandages to keep injuries moist but sterile and experimental surgical applications.
One of the most compelling potential kombucha SCOBY applications is to aid in bone and tissue grafting. All of the known alternative uses for these cultures point toward a wide range of applications.
8. A Properly Stored SCOBY Can Be Rehydrated
Dried SCOBYs have many alternative uses, but it may also be possible to revive a culture that has dried out. Whether a neglected SCOBY hotel or brewing project led to one or more SCOBYs becoming dry, these cultures may be brought back to life by adding starter liquid and room-temperature sweet tea.
A culture may still be used for brewing as long as kombucha pH levels remain below 4.5, or sufficiently acidic to resist mould growth. It is also important to make sure that a dried SCOBY has not become contaminated.
9. A Healthy Kombucha SCOBY May Multiply
A SCOBY in a well-balanced environment with sufficient food in the form of sugars is likely to multiply. The process of starting new brews and transferring cultures to sterile vessels or SCOBY hotels is not difficult, but it is more involved than just purchasing kombucha.
Instant Kombucha Powder is the easiest way to include kombucha in your daily routine. The blend by Superfoods Company contains micro-encapsulated kombucha, brewed apple cider vinegar and soluble fibre.
These nine facts indicate the usefulness of a kombucha SCOBY. Kombucha is a rich source of tea polyphenols and flavonoids as well as the organic acids, vitamins and minerals that are released during fermentation. Mix Superfoods Company Instant Kombucha Powder into water or other liquids to obtain the benefits of kombucha brewed with a SCOBY.