photo credit from Jamie's Good Eats
with sugar and a culture and allowed to ferment (Leal, 2018). The culture or “mother” is known as the "SCOBY" or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (Leal, 2018). But not all kombucha are the same, and that really depends on the culture's origin, weather, geographical location and medium used for the fermentation process (Leal, 2018). The flavor of some can taste more subtle while others may have a very strong vinegar taste.
WHAT'S THE SCOBY?
Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast or SCOBY is a living entity or a mat of cells that needs food to survive. By feeding it sugar the SCOBY will create B vitamins, antioxidants, carbon dioxide, ethanol, and beneficial bacteria and yeast (Malbasa, 2011). In combination with the tea and sugar, the SCOBY is able to produce this amazing fizzy tea. The SCOBY isn’t the most attractive looking thing but it is edible if you happen to accidentally ingest it (George, 2019). If you decide to make your own kombucha there are four different types of SCOBY to look for:
USES FOR THE SCOBY. IS THE SCOBY SAFE TO EAT?
As scary as it might look the SCOBY is completely safe to ingest. The same friendly yeast and bacteria that kombucha is known for is also found in the SCOBY, and posses antibacterial activity and prevents contamination of the drink by pathogenic bacteria (Leal, 2018). There are actually a few home brewers that don't have the courage to discard their baby SCOBY and have created some delicious ways to use it, like apple pie SCOBY candy (Crosby, 2015) and other ways to cook with it (Klein, 2019). But that isn't the only thing you can do with the SCOBY. Suzanne Lee, a New York fashion designer, has found a way to take this probiotic rich SCOBY and turn it into wearable clothing. Simply by dehydrating the SCOBY, it becomes a leather-like textile that can be molded onto forms to create seamless clothing (Grushkin, 2015).
Photo credit: Grow fabric in your kitchen from forbes.com (top), dehydrated SCOBY from Jamie's Good Eats (bottom left), SCOBY smoothie from kombuchahome.com (bottom right), and SCOBY candy from yumuniverse.com (right middle)
Interesting in making your own, but don't know where to start? There are plenty of places that you can go to learn more. One of the many options is Kombucha to the People run by Lila Volkas. Lila is a Certified Nutrition Consultant from Berkeley, California. She has been teaching kombucha brewing workshops since 2012 and has shared her culture (SCOBY) with hundreds of people over the world (Kombucha to the People, 2019). In the class you learn about what kombucha and a SCOBY is, the reported history of where and how kombucha came about, health benefits, preparation and care of kombucha and your SCOBY, and the many things you can make with the excess products you get from the fermenting process (i.e. fruit leather, salad dressing, art projects, and more).
Photo credit from Jamie's Good Eats (Top left: My husband, Joe, and I with the teacher and her guest speaker Ian Griffin from Booch News. Middle left: Kombucha with osmanthus flower merging with the SCOBY. Bottom left: Baby SCOBY, muslin cloth and a how to is given at the end of class. Top right: Different types of kombucha varieties that Lila made. Middle right: dressing salad with homemade kombucha vinaigrette. Bottom right: Kombucha with 4-5 layers of SCOBY.
Crosby, H. (2015, September 11). Kombucha SCOBY Candy. Retrieved from https://yumuniverse.com/sugar-mama-kombucha-scoby-candy/
Grushkin, D. (2019, March 18). Meet The Woman Who Wants To Grow Clothing In A Lab. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/meet-woman-who-wants-growing-clothing-lab/
Kapp, J. & Sumner, W. (2019). Kombucha: A systematic review of the empirical evidence of human health benefit. Annals of Epidemiology, 30, 66-70. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.11.001
Klein, D. & Clark, F. (2017, August 30). Can You Eat the Kombucha SCOBY? Retrieved from http://kombuchahome.com/can-eat-kombucha-scoby/#:~:text=Yes you can eat SCOBYs,not cause you any harm.&text=Let's start off by taking,what is in a SCOBY.
Kombucha Culture. (2016, August 14). Retrieved from https://gastropod.com/kombucha-culture/
Firelands Regional Health Center (2019) Kombucha: The Cure For All Diseases? Retrieved from https://www.firelands.com/blog/kombucha-the-cure-for-all-diseases
Kombucha to the People. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.com/o/kombucha-to-the-people-19653939226
Leal, J, Suárez, L., Jayabalan, R., Oros, J., & Escalante-Aburto, A. (2018). A review on health benefits of kombucha nutritional compounds and metabolites. CyTA - Journal of Food, 16(1), 390-399. doi:10.1080/19476337.2017.1410499
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