Guide to Creating and Maintaining a SCOBY Hotel

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If there's one thing that kombucha brewers learn over time, it's that SCOBYs proliferate. Brewers accumulate a handful of these gooey pellicles throughout fermentation. Instead of throwing these perfectly-usable cultures away or overcrowding your brewing container with excess SCOBYs, you can keep them in a SCOBY hotel.

What Is a SCOBY Hotel?

A SCOBY hotel is a glass container of liquid that houses extra kombucha SCOBYs. This vessel can contain as many SCOBYs as it can fit. It’s important to note that these SCOBYs aren’t fermenting a new batch of kombucha just yet—they’re simply being placed there on standby until needed.

A SCOBY hotel contains SCOBYs, sweet tea, and starter tea. The sugars in the sweet tea work together with probiotics in the starter tea to nourish and maintain the SCOBYs. Eventually, the SCOBYs eat the sugars in the tea, and you’ll need to add more.

Similarly, all these three ingredients are needed to make a new batch of kombucha. However, in the case of a SCOBY hotel, we aren’t trying to make kombucha, at least not yet. The liquid merely acts as a support system for the SCOBYs and keeps them in tip-top shape while they’re resting.

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6 Benefits of Having a SCOBY Hotel

Kombucha brewers should strive to have a vessel dedicated to housing extra SCOBYs. Setting it up and maintaining it doesn’t take too much time or effort, but its benefits and convenience are not to be trifled with.

Here are some of the advantages of having a SCOBY hotel:

  1. You gain access to a fresh, healthy SCOBY ready-to-go in case your current one is moldy or dying.
  2. You can use the SCOBY in ways unrelated to kombucha brewing, like jerky, dog treats, or compost.
  3. You can dry extra SCOBYs and use them as leather (jewelry, furniture).
  4. You can share SCOBYs with friends and family members.
  5. You can take time off from brewing kombucha without worrying about the health of your SCOBYs.
  6. It’s more sustainable since you’re not throwing away perfectly good SCOBYs!

How Long Can a Scoby Live in a SCOBY Hotel?

A SCOBY can live for up to a year in a SCOBY hotel, given that it’s properly maintained. However, each batch can vary slightly, so some can live for much longer or shorter than that.

The best way to know whether a SCOBY can still make good kombucha is by looking at its color. If it’s black or gray, it’s an indicator that it’s close to the end of its lifespan. You may want to throw it away in this case or use it for non-kombucha purposes.

You must maintain the hotel. The SCOBYs can dry up if you don’t put enough kombucha or sweet tea for the yeast to feed on. Keeping the environment moist and not overly acidic is essential to ensure the health of the SCOBY.

How to Make a SCOBY Hotel

A SCOBY hotel can set the framework for a more organized and sustainable kombucha fermentation process. Here’s how you can set up one for yourself:


  • All of your extra SCOBYs
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 cup unpasteurized, unflavored kombucha (starter tea)
  • 4 bags of black tea
  • 100 grams of cane sugar


Step-by-step instructions

  1. Sweeten the black tea. Boil 2 cups of water. Once boiling, remove it from the heat. Add sugar and wait until it’s dissolved. Add the black tea bags and steep for 20 minutes.
  2. Cool the tea to room temperature. Pour the 5 cups of cold water to hasten the cooling process.
  3. Make the hotel. Put all the SCOBYs inside a glass jar. Then, put the kombucha and newly-sweetened tea at a ratio of 10% to 90%.
  4. Cover it. Use the woven fabric and rubberband to secure the SCOBY hotel. This will keep bacteria from entering while simultaneously allowing SCOBY to breathe.
  5. Store it. Keep the SCOBY hotel at room temperature (68-78°F), away from sunlight.

How to Maintain a Kombucha SCOBY Hotel

Proper maintenance of your SCOBY hotel ensures that the yeast and bacteria in the vessel are happy and healthy. When left unmaintained, a kombucha SCOBY hotel can look after itself for 30 to 90 days if the external conditions (such as temperature) are met. But if you want to ensure that your kombucha SCOBY hotel is in prime condition for even longer, here’s what to do:

  • Feed the SCOBYs every three weeks by removing a cup or two of the liquid and adding a new batch of sweet tea. This gives the SCOBYs something to eat and prevents the liquid from getting overly acidic.
  • Once you notice your kombucha pellicle getting darker, use clean hands to remove that kombucha from the hotel gently.
  • Some brewers rotate kombucha SCOBYs to keep the SCOBY hotel’s environment dynamic. This is advisable if you want your kombucha to have more live cultures.
  • Trim the top layer of SCOBY if it gets too thick. An overly thick top layer can prevent oxygen from reaching the SCOBY beneath it, causing stagnation.
  • Clean the jar regularly to prevent excessive yeast build-up. Grab a temporary vessel to pour the liquid in, and rinse the SCOBY hotel vessel with hot water. Scrub as needed, then pour a newly brewed sweet tea and starter liquid mixture. Once the liquid is at room temperature, reintroduce the SCOBYs.

How to Take a Piece of SCOBY or Tea From Your Hotel

Taking a SCOBY out of the hotel is easy. First, ensure that your hands and wrists are clean. Then, identify the SCOBY you want to get and peel it from the rest of the batch. You can use a clean pair of scissors to trim the chunks that stick together. Dip the scissors into kombucha vinegar to sanitize them.

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Removing SCOBYs from the hotel

Once the SCOBY is successfully extracted, add it to a new batch of fermenting kombucha or sweet tea, or do whatever you want with it. Be sure to close the SCOBY hotel with your fabric and rubber band.

To remove tea from your hotel, you can sanitize a cup or ladle and scoop out the desired amount. This liquid makes great, strong starter tea for a fresh batch of kombucha.

Why Shouldn’t You Keep a SCOBY Hotel in the Refrigerator?

SCOBY, short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is a living organism. Keeping it in the fridge will make it dormant and unable to ferment correctly. This means you won’t be able to get the sweet and sour kick of kombucha anytime soon.

Keeping a SCOBY hotel at room temp is ideal because its high acidity content allows it to withstand external threats. While it’s a hotel, it’s not the most hospitable environment for foreign pathogens and other contaminants seeking refuge in this container.

Keeping your new SCOBY hotel near the production area is recommended if you’re already producing a continuous brew of kombucha tea with your current home-brewing setup.


Joshua recently discovered flavored kombucha and has since become a fan of its taste and health properties. He's currently attempting to taste test at least 20 different kombucha flavors, and his current favorite is apple kombucha.

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