How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY at Home

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To easily begin brewing kombucha at home, you need at least four ingredients. One of the most important of those four is the kombucha SCOBY. If you don’t want to buy a one or don’t know where to get one, the good news is you can grow a kombucha SCOBY yourself. 

How Long Does It Take to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY at Home?

It will take at least a month to grow your own SCOBY, if not a bit longer. However, once you have grown your SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and you begin your homebrew, it will produce a new SCOBY with each new batch you brew, so after a while, you’ll have extra SCOBYs to give away or use for other things.

How to Grow a SCOBY

  1. Purchase at least 2 cups of unflavored, raw kombucha.
  2. Pour the store-bought kombucha into a glass jar, cover it with a breathable mesh cloth, and secure it with a rubber band.
  3. Leave the jar in a dark, well-ventilated place at room temperature for at least 4-5 weeks. If the temperatures are colder where you keep the kombucha, it may take 6-8 weeks.
  4. Try not to agitate the jar, as this can cause your kombucha SCOBY formation to sink.
  5. Once the SCOBY has grown to at least 1/2-inch thick and the unflavored kombucha has concentrated down to about a cup of vinegary liquid, you can use that (the liquid and the SCOBY) to begin your first batch of kombucha tea.
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SCOBY forming

Brewing With Your Homemade Kombucha SCOBY

Once your new SCOBY is ready, it’s time to begin brewing your fizzy kombucha. Preparing for your first fermentation is quite simple.

  1. Use the 1 cup of kombucha that did not evaporate as your starter tea to brew a half-gallon of kombucha.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of loose-leaf black tea (you can also use white or green tea if preferred) or 3 tea bags.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of white sugar or cane sugar to the boiling water to make sweet tea.
  4. Add 5 cups of cold water to the tea. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, and pour it into a large jar with your SCOBY and starter tea.
  5. Cover the top of the jar with a mesh cloth (you can substitute a paper towel or coffee filter) and secure it with a rubber band.
  6. Keep the jar in a warm, dark location, away from direct sunlight, and allow it to sit for a week or two.

At this point, your kombucha is ready to drink. However, many brewers put their booch through a second fermentation process, adding fruits or herbs to make flavored kombucha. If you decide to do this, store your SCOBY properly (perhaps in a SCOBY hotel) with enough starter liquid for the next batch, or go ahead and begin a second batch immediately.

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First fermentation ingredients

Pros and Cons of Growing Your Own SCOBY

Like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages of growing your own SCOBY.


  • There’s no need to search for a SCOBY to buy.
  • You can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • You know precisely where the SCOBY came from.


  • Growing a baby SCOBY will take much longer than having one delivered.
  • Some kombucha brands falsely advertise their processes and ingredients, meaning you may be using pasteurized kombucha (which will not work for growing a SCOBY).
  • The kombucha brand may water their product down or use yeast inhibitors, or there may not be any live bacterial cultures contained in the product.

Can You Brew Kombucha Without a SCOBY?

You can brew kombucha without a SCOBY. However, kombucha brewing takes a while, and doing it without a SCOBY will take longer.

Though your kombucha tea will typically come out better if you use a SCOBY, the starter tea is most important, as the SCOBY is simply a by-product of the starter liquid.

Where Can You Buy a SCOBY?

Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to acquire a SCOBY without growing it yourself. You can purchase a kombucha starter kit online from sites such as Amazon. You can also ask a friend or someone in your community that brews kombucha to give you one of their extra SCOBYs.


Margaret has been drinking kombucha for its health benefits since 2010. Not only does she love drinking it, but she also enjoys brewing her own homemade booch. Her favorite combination so far is mint-strawberry, but she is always experimenting with new recipes.

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