Caring for Your Baby SCOBY

Hi, my name is Ed Jr., and I am your very own Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts (SCOBY)! I am excited to come live with you and assist you in making your very own homemade probiotic-rich kombucha tea! There are a few things you will need before we get started:

  • Me!!! (SCOBY)

  • 1/4 cup or a little more kombucha tea from previous batch

  • Gallon size glass jar (lid not required)

  • Cheesecloth (Or an old tea towel…or your husband’s old shirt from high school that needed to be retired in 1996 “No, honey, I don’t know how your football camp shirt from your junior year got cut into squares and used for my kombucha.”…whatever, I won’t judge)

  • Rubber band

  • Non-chlorinated water. Well water works fine. If you live in town, you’ll need to filter your water to remove chlorine. The chlorine kills all the bad bugs in the water that could make us sick, but it will also kill all the good bacteria that I need to make you kombucha!

  • White sugar. Yes, you heard that right. Not honey, not molasses, not sucanat or rapadura. Good old fashioned white sugar. Don’t worry though. My yeast and bacteria will eat it all up so you won’t be ingesting it!

  • Tea. Black, green, or white tea all work great! Herbal tea has mixed reviews so do your own research and venture forth at your own risk. If caffeine is an issue, I will break down about 2/3 of the caffeine during the fermentation process, which means if you use Green Tea (has less caffeine that black), you could end up with as little as 2-3 mg of caffeine per glass of kombucha. Plus, the caffeine present in Kombucha is paired with a natural amino acid that slows its absorption into the bloodstream, l-theanine, with great side benefits such as reducing anxiety and improving cognitive performance and mood. Kassi doesn’t use decaffeinated tea because of the chemicals used in the process, but if you really want to limit the caffeine, just give Kassi a jingle for some suggestions!

That’s it! If you are wanting to make your kombucha bubbly and flavored, you will also need fruit or fruit juice and airtight, high-pressure bottles. My mom Kassi uses grolsch style bottles she got from Amazon, but you can also recycle wine bottles with a cork or something similar.

Ready to get started? Here we go!

  1. Boil 3-4 quarts of water. Three quarts is usually sufficient, but if you are giving away some of my babies later on, you will probably give some kombucha with it and will want a larger batch.

  2. Stir in 1 cup of sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat.

  3. Add 1 jumbo tea bag, 4 regular sized tea bags, or 4-ish teaspoons of loose leaf tea.

  4. Cool. This is super important. Just like boiling kills the bad germs, too hot of water will kill me, too. Kassi usually does steps 1-3 in the morning and then just leaves it on the counter until the evening and finishes up. That’s a really long time, and you don’t need to wait that long, but that’s convenient for her schedule.

  5. Once cooled, remove tea bags or strain out tea leaves and pour into gallon glass jar along with ¼ cup or more kombucha from last batch and SCOBY.

  6. Cover with cheesecloth and rubberband to keep dust and fruit flies out and leave me alone for 7-30 days depending on how tart you like your kombucha. You can start tasting at day 5, but try to disturb me as little as possible, and ALWAYS use very clean hands, spoons, straws, etc., so that you don’t introduce yucky bacteria in. A thin rubbery, whitish film will start to grow on top. This is my SCOBY baby, and this means it’s working! It might take a few batches before I make a baby. It may have some areas that are thicker or thinner and sometimes some inconsistencies in color. This is all normal. If it smells bad (rotting) or you see mold, dump it, and ask Kassi for a new SCOBY. Some fruit flies may have gotten in or some germs.

  7. Once the kombucha tastes the way you like it, pour it into a pitcher and chill before drinking. Keep ¼ cup and me (Ed Jr.) for your next batch. You should also have a SCOBY baby that you can give away, use to make a second batch, give to your chickens, throw away, or just leave in your kombucha. Sometimes there are upwards of 5 of my siblings in Kassi’s jar at any given time! To harvest the SCOBY baby, he should just peel off kind of like layers of flaky biscuits.

  8. If you are wanting your kombucha to be bubbly, you will need to do a few extra things. Stop your fermentation while it’s still a little bit sweet. Seven days seems to be about right. Instead of putting it in the fridge, pour it into airtight bottles along with some fruit or fruit juice. You can also add herbs or other flavorings at this point in time. Don’t add essential oils right now because they are too strong and will kill the yeast. We need the yeast to eat the sugar to give off carbon dioxide, which makes bubbles. Extracts seem to be ok. Vanilla or almond are tasty. Add 10-30% fresh, frozen, or dried fruit OR 10-20% juice. This second fermentation will take 2-7 days. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t go too crazy and break your bottles. (Don’t ask me how I know. My tiny little one week life flashed before my eyes.) You can either open it up every day to check it out or put one batch in a plastic bottle (like an old pop bottle). When the bottle is puffy and firm to the touch, it’s probably time to stop the fermentation. You do this by just putting your bottle sin the fridge! Cold slows it down and makes it tasty for drinking!

About my temperament:

I already mentioned that I don’t like cholrine. I also don’t do well with commercial soaps/detergents so just wash all of my jars and utensils with vinegar water. If you DO use soap, rinse really, really well!!!! (There is no need to wash your gallon jar unless something goes wrong. Just leave a little kombucha in the bottom and keep going!) Because I am an open air fermentation, I am using some of the bacteria and wild yeasts in the air in your home. It might take me a couple of batches to get used to your environment. On that note, it’s also important to keep me at least 4 feet away from any other open air ferments you may have such as sourdough or lacto-fermented veggies so that we don’t trade bacteria and mess each other up. Once I get going, I am pretty hardy so if you’re going on vacation or just need a break from caring for me, just stick me in the fridge in a little bit of kombucha from your last batch until you’re ready to use me again. I’m not exactly sure how long I’ll survive in there, but Kassi accidentally left a batch in the jar (not in the fridge) for probably 6 months after she had a baby. The tea was super crazy sour so she dumped it and just made a new batch. It took a couple batches, but I revived! As far as temperature goes, be aware that in the really hot months, I will ferment more quickly, but if it’s been a really cool spell, I will slow down. That’s why it’s important to taste and check me to see how far along I am. It won’t be the same every batch!

Want to make Kombucha with Kassi? Request to join EcoLife’s VIP group on Facebook and search kombucha in the search bar.
Kassi makes kombucha live in this group every couple of months.

Questions? Comments? Troubleshooting? Aka “My kombucha looks funny” or “I killed it and need another baby.”


Request more SCOBY babies at