ScobyDO's and DON'Ts!
The scoby is the essence and foundation of every brew. and although it's quite a resilient creature, it still requires TLC in order to thrive. Read on to learn what you can do to get scoby's as flawless as the ones in the photo below!
And if you are in need of a scoby, be sure to pick up one of our scoby beauties, which come in three different sizes, along with detailed instructions and a full cup of starter liquid.
Cleanliness is King.
What makes a scoby sad? Unsanitary conditions. So be sure that whatever space you choose to brew in—whether it’s your kitchen counter, or a nook in a room—is kept immaculately clean. Don’t leave fruit or plants near the scoby, and don’t cook near the scoby. Always keep your brew jar covered with a breathable, but tightly-woven cloth. Do not use cheese cloth.
When working with your scoby, make sure you have thoroughly washed your hands prior to touching the scoby. You can wash with natural, unscented dish soap like this one, or use food-grade gloves. Similarly, be sure that all of the tools you are using—from measuring cups to spoons and tea balls—are also freshly cleaned prior to use.
The cleanliness of the air circulating in your brew area is critical too. Be sure that your air filters are up to date. When you are working on a batch, or are transferring scoby's to a hotel, do not leave the the scoby jar unattended without a cover. If you need to leave the brew area, cover the jar. Leaving the jar without a cover is an invitation for a fruit fly to come for a visit.
And speaking of air, be sure your brewing vessels get plenty: Do NOT store your vessels in tight spaces or in closets, where the air can't freely circulate. For optimal health, your scoby requires a supply of nutrition (starter liquid) and clean air. If you limit one or both of these, your scoby can get mold.
Quality ingredients matter.
Want a healthy, robust scoby? Give it good nutrition. That means organic tea and sugar. Sure, you can use non-organic ingredients, and your scoby will still ferment as it should. However, optimal ingredients = optimal health. And when you're bringing your beloved scoby in contact with non-organic ingredients, you can risk exposing it to pesticides and other synthetic elements.
So why risk it? Get yourself some well-priced organic green and/or black tea, organic cane sugar, and get to brewing! Which leads us to the next critical factor in scoby health.
Not all water is alike, and certainly not when it comes to the water you choose for your kombucha. Like all the other ingredients in the fermentation process, water, too, must be free of chemicals, and come in its cleanest form. We've found that Spring water is the best choice for kombucha brewing. Sure, you can use a quality filtration system on regular tap water, and your water will be clean, but there is still a small risk of contamination.
So, if you want to eliminate that risk altogether, go with clean, spring water. Depending on the size and frequency of your batches, a couple of 1 gallon bottles should be enough for a week of brewing.
Good Vibes Only.
Do you ever talk to your scoby? Write little words of love and encouragement to it? Don’t question your sanity if you do. You’re sending the scoby good energy, which we believe, helps it thrive.
Remember: This is a living organism, and it relies on YOU to help it grow and develop. This is why we always tell home-brewers: Don't start a batch unless you are feeling positive. If you're rushed, stressed out, overwhelmed, mad, and generally not feeling well—give yourself some time to get into a positive place, mentally and physically, and then start on your batch. Or you may be transferring your bad vibes directly into that scoby jar.
And once you start your batch, observe boundaries with your scoby. Give her time to do her thing, before you start inspecting her process. There's no need to taste your brew or check up on your scoby until 3-4 days into cycle. Prematurely disturbing your scoby mother may have a negative effect on her baby-in-progress.
If you need further guidance on maintaining or starting your brews, be sure to check out our private courses, skype sessions and email consultations, which are also available in our shop! Happy brewing, booch-heads!