What is a Kombucha Scoby?

A SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” is an ingredient used in the fermentation and production of kombucha.

Fermentation is a chemical process in which carbohydrates like sugar or starch turn into alcohol or acid. 

The appearance of the SCOBY can vary, but it’s typically dense, round, rubbery and opaque with a mild, vinegar-like smell.

Look out for mold or a strong cheese-like odor, which may indicate that the SCOBY is decaying and needs to be discarded.

The dish-like structure of the SCOBY is comprised mostly of a type of insoluble fiber known as cellulose.

It also hosts a variety of yeast and bacteria species that aid the fermentation process.

Other fermented foods and beverages — such as kefir, sourdough bread and ginger beer — require similar symbiotic cultures.

HOW IT WORKS

Kombucha is produced by adding a SCOBY into sweetened black or green tea, then letting it ferment for 1–4 weeks.

The bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY break down the tea’s sugars and convert them into alcohol, carbon dioxide and acids.

The result is a fizzy product with a tangy, sweet and vinegar-like taste. Its specific flavors depend on how long it’s left to ferment, the type of tea used and the addition of other ingredients like fruit, juice or herbs.

Fermentation also increases the concentration of probiotics — a type of beneficial bacteria in your gut with many positive health effects.

In fact, studies have linked probiotic consumption to reduced cholesterol levels, improved immunity and enhanced weight loss, among other benefits.

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