Kombucha SCOBY Experiment

kombucha scoby fresh 2

A few years ago, I wrote a post on how to grow a kombucha scoby that skyrocketed to the top of search engine results. It wasn’t about brewing kombucha, but about how to grow your own kombucha starter culture. It’s affectionately called a “mother” and is also known as a SCOBY — a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

At first, readers emailed me about the post saying “WOW. I did it! I can’t believe it worked. I’m so happy to have my own kombucha scoby and to start brewing kombucha. Thank you.”

Then about a year ago, I started getting emails saying “I couldn’t get it to work. I bought a bottle of store-bought kombucha tea, but I couldn’t grow a kombucha scoby from it. HELP!”

What happened? Why did my instructions for growing a kombucha scoby no longer work?

Finally, I decided I wanted to know which way of growing a kombucha scoby is best. Could I still successfully grow a scoby from store bought kombucha tea? I experimented with three kombucha scoby cultures — fresh, dehydrated, and store-bought — to find out!

My Kombucha Scoby Experiment

I began by getting my starter cultures:

  • Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #1 — A bottle of store-bought kombucha.
  • Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #2 — A dehydrated scoby from a reputable online supplier.
  • Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #3 — A fresh scoby from a reputable online supplier.

Next, I got everything ready for them to flourish — organic black tea, organic sugar, filtered water, and identical brewing vessels.

Then, I got busy growing. Here are my results.

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #1

I followed my own instructions to a tee, just like I did years ago.

After three weeks, the new culture looked like this:

kombuch scoby store bought

Do you see what I see? A whole bunch of nothing! Absolutely nothing grew. Sure, there’s some small bubbles. But that’s how much growth I expect to see after three to five days, not three weeks.

Okay, I thought, maybe I just got an off bottle that had been on the shelf too long.

So I bought another bottle and did it again.

It also failed.

I gave it one last shot.

It failed, too.

Why can’t I grow a kombucha scoby from a store-bought bottle anymore?

You may or may not remember the great kombucha recall of 2010. Kombucha was pulled off store shelves across the U.S. because it had been feared that some brands were too alcoholic to be sold as a regular beverage.

Most major brands reformulated their kombucha, then put it back on store shelves promising that it would no longer be possible for their kombucha to contain too much alcohol.

Whatever they did, I think they made it virtually impossible to grow a kombucha scoby from a store-bought bottle of kombucha anymore.

Some companies, like Dave’s GT, have even started adding a supplement called GBI-30 to their “Enlightened” (AKA kombucha for those under 21) bottled booch. GBI-30 is a patented pro-biotic that is non-native to the Kombucha culture.

I don’t know precisely why they added this to their formula, or how it prevents the growth of alcohol, but it doesn’t make sense to include GBI-30 in your homemade kombucha scoby. It’s not part of the normal fermentation process for kombucha, so I can imagine that it is also somehow interfering with our ability to grow a fresh kombucha scoby from the bottled brew.

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #2

I had never grown a kombucha scoby from a dehydrated starter culture before, so I didn’t know what to expect.

When it arrived, it looked just like described — a dried up kombucha scoby.

kombucha scoby dehydrated

It also took far longer than I realized it would to rehydrate it. After three weeks of waiting, it finally starting growing a new scoby.

About a week after that, my new scoby looked like this:

kombucha scoby dehydrated

It was about 1/4 inch thick, and a nice creamy white.

All things considered, this was a success.

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #3

My final kombucha scoby was delivered fresh. It was a beautiful, firm, large, creamy white starter culture that was nearly an inch thick!


Unlike with the dehydrated culture, I could start brewing with this kombucha scoby right away.

So, I did.

Within one week, I had another equally creamy white, inch thick scoby on my hands in addition to a tasty new batch of kombucha tea.

After three brewing cycles, I still had a beautiful, thick kombucha scoby. Here you can see three generations of this scoby still going strong on my counter top:

kombucha scoby fresh 2

This is most certainly a success!

Recommendations and Conclusions

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #1 — Not Recommended!

Obviously, growing your own kombucha scoby from store-bought bottled kombucha is no longer recommended.

To be fair, I have heard from readers who successfully grew a new scoby from a bottle of store-bought booch since the reformulation. But when I question them further about it, I inevitably find that their scobies are more translucent, less firm, and took at least a month to grow — longer in the winter. Weak cultures like that tend to beget even more weak cultures, so that after a few batches their brews fall flat and no longer pack the same flavorful punch.

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #2 — Neutral

Growing a scoby from a dehydrated culture seems to work just fine, but it had a long wait. The new scoby was weak and thin compared to the fresh scoby, and within a few generations it was even thinner. The kombucha tea I brewed with it tasted okay, but fell flat compared to the kombucha I brewed from the fresh culture.

I’ve also read that dehydrated cultures are more likely to mold. While I didn’t personally experience this, I can believe it. That’s because the kombucha scoby I grew in my first batch was relatively weak and just kept growing more weak with each generation. Ultimately, I stopped growing this culture altogether.

Kombucha Scoby Starter Culture #3 — Highly Recommended!

Growing a scoby from a fresh culture is by far the quickest and easiest method. The culture arrives beautiful, thriving, and fresh — completely ready to use. It also produces strong baby cultures and a fresher tasting kombucha tea.

Yes, it initially costs just a little bit more. But just like with any nutrient dense food, the source matters.

You would not argue that CAFO-finished supermarket beef is as healthy or tasty as grass-finished beef from your local farm. So it makes sense that not all ways of making Kombucha result in the same quality.

Where can you order a fresh kombucha scoby?

kombucha scoby mamma hannah crumMy own fresh kombucha scoby came from Kombucha Kamp.

Kombucha Kamp is the #1 kombucha site in the world (true by the numbers and reputation). The site is run by Hannah Crum, a beautiful woman who totally knows her stuff! I met her at the Wise Traditions conference last year and hooked up with her again at this year’s conference to my delight.

She calls herself the Kombucha Mamma, and for good reason. Kombucha Kamp has the best and most complete repository of Kombucha information I’ve ever seen. I signed up for her free kombucha tips and learned quite a bit I didn’t already know, even after years of brewing kombucha at home.

Want to know more about kombucha tea?

Here are some more posts I’ve written on kombucha:



  1. Lori says

    My daughter is trying to get pregnant and just started making kombucha. Is it okay to drink if you are pregnant?

  2. Panther says

    Hi and thanks for this update
    FYI – I have had no problem growing a SCOBY twice now in the last 6 months from scratch using the GT raw Original commercial kombucha
    I have not even seen your instructions but followed my intuition and used about 1.5 to 2 liters of strong sweet black tea (all organic tea and sugar at a ratio of 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teabags per liter) and simply added one bottle of GT GT raw Original commercial kombucha (approx. 1/2 litre bottle)
    Then I covered it with a paper towel and let it sit at room temperature for about 3-4 weeks before removing a lovely clean white SCOBY about 3/8 inch thick for use

    • says

      I too recently did this with GT’s and to clarify, the ones sold in the brown bottles as “alcohol” are their original recipe. If you taste this side-by-side with the newer formula, the new tastes super-sugary.
      My SCOBY turned out great and my first batch is brewing now!

    • Jean says

      I have also had success in growing a scoby with a bottle of storebought komucha. I used half a bottle of ginger flavored RISE organic kombucha with white tea and sugar.
      The reason I used flavored kombucha is that I couldn’t find any unflavored ones in stores in my area.
      I let it grow for 3 weeks but after about half that time, I had a 1/4 inch scoby. I moved my jar to show a friend at this time and the scoby sank. A second one grew on the surface after that.

      I let a new brew with my 2 scobys ferment for 8 days. And I now have 3 scobys 1/4 inch thick and started my 3rd batch. :)

  3. says

    Thanks so much for this update, Kristen! Like you, I grew my own Scoby from a bottle of GTs awhile ago (after reading your great article) and it looked just like your original post and it also multiplied like rabbits (as a healthy Scoby should) and I’ve used its babies every since then to keep my Kombucha supply going and well as help others get started brewing.

    However, I taught a class back in August on Kombucha brewing and shared your site (as I always do) with the instructions for growing your own Scoby from a bottle of raw GTs and had several people who emailed me to report no success, so (since this was a local class), they popped over to my home and picked up one of my extra Scobies and have been brewing great batches of bucha.

    I was wondering if it was just operator error, but this post was so helpful in revealing that the reformulation may be to blame here, not people who can’t follow directions – LOL!

    I LOVE Hannah’s site and also recommend her to everyone for her indepth info, but I’ve never purchased a Scoby from her. I am now happy to see your success so I can recommend this an option for those that aren’t local and are looking to get started brewing bucha.

    Thanks so much for all your informative articles and tips! You’re such a blessing, Kelly

    • KristenM says

      I know exactly what you mean! When I first started getting emails from people not finding success, I thought maybe they couldn’t follow instructions.

      Then when so many started pouring in, I realized something significant was going on, and I felt ashamed for having misjudged the situation!

      The way I see it is this: if one out of every three or four bottles of store-bought booch is going to grow a successful scoby, then it’s a gamble. You *may* get a scoby for just $4 out of that booch, or more likely you won’t. More than likely, you’ll spend $12 or even $15 on bottle after bottle before (like me), you give up.

      Not only have you wasted money that you could have spent buying a fresh scoby, but you’ve also wasted TIME you could have been enjoying the booch!

      The only one of these varieties that grows a new, fresh scoby in as little as a week is the fresh scoby. So, if you want to start enjoying your own kombucha right away, it really is the ticket!

  4. says

    this makes me so thankful I grew a scoby several years ago from the “old” GT’s! My scoby is going strong – I switched over to continuous brew last year and now I can hardly keep up with it. My scoby weighs about 10 lbs now and I feed it every day and get a quart of delicious kombucha every day! I’ve saturated my friends and neighbors and now have resorted to composting my old scobies because no one else around needs one. :/

    • KristenM says

      I actually regret not keeping my old one going! I let it die during a move, spent many months without kombucha, then spent many more months trying and failing to brew kombucha from store bought bottles before I eventually caved and decided to pay for scobies and document it all to figure out which way is best.

      What a waste!

  5. Natasha says

    Thanks for this! I too grew a nice, still going, strong scoby from your instruction approximately 1 yr ago. It is still healthy and strong, thick growing and has been split for others to start brewing. I wonder if within this year they started adding that extra ingredient and hinders the growth for a healthy scoby? I had tried the dehydrated method before following your instructions with not very good results. To anyone in MN I will gladly share my scoby babies

    • says

      Natasha – I’m in MN and desperately looking for a scoby! I had one going strong for over a year, until knee surgery knocked all of my kitchen routines out of whack and mine died. How can I contact you?

    • Tammy says

      I live in MN and I bought a scoby and then put it next to my water kefir! ugh, now they are both ruined, the kefir is vinegar tasting and the kombucha isn’t processing! Could I get a scoby from you? I live east of St. Paul

  6. Rainy says

    Like Panther, I have recently (um, I just finished drinking the batch, so it was maybe November or December 2012) grown a new SCOBY from a bottle of original GTs purchased from my local co-op. It takes considerably longer than when I just throw in the SCOBY and some old booch (I’m glad I’m not the only one who calls it that!)- like 3-4 times as long.

    Hmm…. Interesting!

  7. says

    I grew a scoby from a bottle of raw store bought kombucha and now I have a whole farm’s worth of mothers. We’ve had so much that we made candy out of some of it (found a recipe in a fermenting book). I have a gallon jar just to store the extras because I can’t seem to give away enough. I wish I could remember the brand of Komucha I started with – it was a glass bottle with a blue label but that’s all I remember.

  8. says

    Last month I used a bottle of GT’s Original flavor kombucha to start my own batch.

    I appreciate your post with pictures comparing the SCOBY’s because I thought my flimsy, thin SCOBY I’d cultured from the GT bottle was working fine. I’ve made at least 3 batches of kombucha that (flavor-wise) I’ve been happy with. However, this makes me question whether or not the kombucha I’ve been brewing is safe. Kombucha Mamma says not to brew from a store bought bottle. I’m wondering if I should throw out what I have and order a live one from her. ??

    • KristenM says

      Well, in my mind, “safe” is determined by pH level. So, as long as your brew is properly acidic, it’s probably safe.

      But is it best? Is it healthiest? I don’t think so. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means it’s not optimal.

      It’s the same principle I use when growing anything. Weak plants are scraggly and produce little fruit. Strong plants are healthy, vibrant, twice or three times the size, and produce tons of fruit. Which seeds will you save for next year? Seeds from the sickly plant, or seeds from the thriving one? The answer is rather obvious.

  9. Leah says

    Has anyone tried with the GT’s that now comes in the brown bottle for “21 and over”? Supposedly it’s still the original (full) culture….

  10. says

    Odd. I followed your directions in November and in 3 weeks grew a beautiful creamy, firm SCOBY from a bottle of GT’s Original. I assumed it took so long because my house was cooler (and probably down right cold where I keep the booch). The second batch only took 5 days and I now have a 3″ beauty pumping out a new gallon every 4-5 days. The pH level is correct and it tastes awesome. Maybe I just got lucky? Whatever happened, thank you for these awesome kombucha articles!

          • says

            Ah! I just grabbed the first bottle of Original I saw. ūüėÄ

            Has anyone tried Kombucha Momma’s continuous brewers? I’m debating on getting one so I don’t have to mess with changing containers every time.

            • victoria says

              I just wanted to post my experience growing a SCOBY. I have over the lasst year and a half grown 3 Scoby’s from scratch using GT’s organic raw Kombucha. The one with the blue lable. I have looked at the lable and it says “only 100 % organic raw kombucha and pure love” in the ingredients. I dont know anything about any additive, but I can say the three times I’ve needed to grow a SCOBY it has come out beautiful, white and thick in a few weeks time. The only thing I do look for in my bottle of GT’s is plenty of chunks of floating matter in the bottom. I know, it sounds awful, but maby that plays a part in my success. Plenty of mother culture to start with???
              My family and I love this stuff. I use the continuous brew method and love it. Every day we have a new 12 pack to drink.
              Great site!

  11. Sheri says

    I grew one SCOBY from GT’s Original during the summer but got busy and didn’t maintain it. A week or so ago I started growing another one. It’s actually already 1/4″ thick and creamy white. I didn’t see anything that said over 21 or anything different but I wasn’t paying attention.

  12. Lydia says

    Weird – I grew mine from the ‘enlightened’ version and don’t have any problems. My scoby’s thick, strong, and happy on the CB method. My husband calls it Scoby Doo, haha. Maybe my batch was really fresh? Not so thrilled to hear about GBI-30 though…

    • KristenM says

      That’d be my guess. If I had to hypothesize, I’d say that the longer the bottled kombucha stays on the shelves, the less and less alive its culture.

      I’m pretty sure that was the case way back when I first wrote my original post on growing your own scoby. But back then the formula was such that only 1 in 4 bottles would NOT reproduce; now (based on reader feedback and my own experience) it seems to be that only 1 in 4 bottles WILL reproduce.

      They really had to clamp down on the fermentation somehow in order to reduce the alcohol content of bottles that were stored for so long, and I think that means that now the longer a bottle is on the shelves, the less likely it is for it to reproduce.

  13. Cari says

    Thank you for this article! I tried to grow a dehydrated scoby (from a reputable online supplier) with no success. I’m going to try it with the fresh one.

  14. Leah says

    Like others, I successfully grew a SCOBY from a store bought bottle over the summer and it worked perfectly. Maybe some brands are better than others for this. I do know mine was not a “21 and over” version. If you can’t find a SCOBY for free, I’d still try that first over paying more for something bought and shipped over the internet, especially if you’re on a budget like me.

  15. Serena says

    Wow, thank you for this post!I had tried to grow a SCOBY last year following your instructions. It was months before there was anything even remotely substantial (1/8 inch, maybe?) and by then I wasn’t sure if it was safe to use. I let it sit out a few more months out of curiosity, but it never really went much further, and I finally tossed it. I thought my house was too cold or I did something wrong, although the recall/reformulation scenario did cross my mind a few times as a possible explanation — clearly they had to clamp down on the “it’s alive!” factor to satisfy the regulators. The reformulated version doesn’t taste the same any more, either — it’s generally sweeter, so something seems to be stopping the fermentation from going too far.
    For reference, the +21 kombucha is in dark amber glass bottles, while the reformulated version is still in the same clear glass bottles as before the recall (this is for the GT Dave’s brand). I may try the +21 and see if that makes a difference; sounds like some folks here have had success. Fingers crossed!

    • KristenM says

      You’re welcome.

      My biggest reason for writing this, aside from my own desire to write a cool post, was that I didn’t want readers who *failed* to grow a scoby from store-bought bottles to get so discouraged that they gave up brewing kombucha altogether!

      It’s very easy to get discouraged when you’re doing something new and a bit intimidating.

  16. Stacey says

    Thanks for the post! I have to say though I did use GT Dave’s and grew my own Scoby just a couple months ago according to your directions! Still using! I even had a friend who has been making kombucha for a couple years check it out..lol! Thanks for the instructions and your website info! Love it!

  17. Amanda says

    I’ve very recently had success with growing from store bought. Started 12/6/2012 with a bottle of GT’s Enlightened Gingerade Kombucha mixed with green tea & sugar & today my SCOBY is about 1/2″ thick & looks very healthy!

    • KristenM says

      Just consider that an optimally healthy culture would have reproduced that same amount in a week and not taken a full month.

      I’m not saying you’ve got a bad culture on your hands. I’m glad you’ve got one at all!

      It’s just something to consider.

  18. Beth Erfert says

    Wow, I have used nothing BUT storebought kombucha to start my own batches….First batch started from NessAlla, then used that to start several subsequent batches. Just for the heck of it, I then bought GT’s Enlightened kombucha and started the next batch using that and had equal success. All of my batches have grown big fat succulent scobies (and actually, the GT’s Enlightened had more scoby growth than the NessAlla did).

    I see some others posting above have had success also. Wonder what the difference is?

    • KristenM says

      If I had to guess, it would be that you’re in a place where store-bought kombucha flies off the shelves. That way, there’s always freshly bottled kombucha in your stores, so you’ve always gotten a hold of the culture when it’s at its strongest.

      • Beth Erfert says

        Kristen, that is very likely it, as both came from the local co-op, and I’d feel sure they probably have a pretty swift turnover, based on all the different varieties they stock–someone must be asking for/buying all of those!

  19. Catherine says

    With all the sources for FREE SCOBYs out there, why would anyone pay for one?!? That’s downright silly. And last I looked, all the so-calle reputable sellers were pandering a lot of mis-information. There are online sites that will link you up to someone who’ll send you a SCOBY if you just pay the shipping. Get wise people!! At one point I was sending out at least one a week LOL.

    • KristenM says

      Well, not everyone is fortunate enough to live near people who grow kombucha scobys.

      I agree that the best way to get one is from a friend or someone who’s giving away extras — particularly if they’re fat & happy scobies!

      I just also know that a lot of people are lone rangers out there, with no one (and I mean no one) available near them to share them. Those people have to drive miles into the city to buy a bottle of booch, or have to buy a scoby online.

      It’s also possible that while they may be able to get their hands on a free one, they don’t want to. If they’re in a hurry and they know it will be weeks before they see their friend that can get them a scoby, then they may opt to buy a fresh one so that they can be drinking their own homemade booch in the same amount of time it would take them to get their hands on a free one.

      Different strokes for different folks!

      Just because YOU wouldn’t buy one, doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of people who would. Otherwise there would be no reason for the myriad of kombucha scoby suppliers out there! They’re obviously meeting an important demand which would be non-existent if kombucha scobies were as easy to come by for everyone as they are for you. :)

  20. wendy says

    If you have a tropical fish aquarium – you likely have the perfect spot to culture your kombucha. I have a flat-sided (fish bowl type) jar that I set right next to the aquarium glass. I tent a bag around it to hold in the heat. Since my aquarium water is set at mid 80’s temp. the heat transfers over and it works great.

  21. Vaughn D. Jr. Newman says

    I successfully grew my Scott from GT’s….that was almost two months ago and it yields wonderful new babies. I do have a question though?….is it normal to eventually get dark and gooky….the flavor is still the same and she still floats?

  22. says

    Last November I grew my own scoby from a bottle of raw organic GT’s kombucha. It grew a scoby within a week and after 3 brews it was nice and thick. I did make the mistake to feed my mother a mixture of sugar and honey. Now that I only give her organic sugar my scoby is growing even more and I was able to harvest a baby! I wonder what the best moment is to harvest a baby or should I just let the scoby grow? How old can a scoby become?

  23. says

    If you cannot produce a healthy SCOBY from store bought Kombucha I would question if it should even be considered Kombucha and not just a somewhat reasonable facsimile like so many commercial products. It certainly cannot have all of the health benefits of the real thing if it cannot even reproduce!

  24. -joshua! says

    We’re still using daughters from the mother we grew from store bought kombucha using your method 2 years ago. Right after the great kombucha recall. We did opt to use a local brand for our start.

  25. sara says

    I love Kombucha Kamp and have purchased flavorings and teas from them (highly recommended!) but I must say, imho, getting a shared scoby seems to be the most genuine way of starting your booch. I got mine locally but I have also mailed extras all over the country through FB groups. People often list them on craigslist and freecycle, too!

    • KristenM says

      I think that’s certainly the best way, if you can manage it.

      But this wasn’t a post for people who can get free scobies from friends. This was a post for readers who can’t do that, who have to resort to buying a kombucha starter culture, so that they can know which methods are most likely to bring success!

    • Saph@frugalwifeblog says

      Do you have an extra you could send me? I’ve searched craigslist and still haven’t found one locally.
      I got one dehydrated and just started brewing a few days ago after the rehydrating process and now I see white fuzzy spots on top of the liquid so I prob have to throw the whole thing out!

  26. says

    As I read this I’m realizing how lucky we were to be able to brow our own mother from bottled kombucha. We did it a few months ago and it’s now a raging continuous brew, so we somehow managed to make it work!

  27. Tina K. says

    I grew my own SCOBY following your instructions May 2012. I took two months and tasted like vinegar. I gave up but I am interested in getting a fresh one.

    • says

      If the initial kombucha you grew was too acidic, then you could have either diluted it with a juice or tea or discarded most of the kombucha, leaving the mother and some of the original juice and made up a new batch. Most likely the long fermentation ate up the sugar that would have balanced the acidity. A kombucha culture is like a sourdough starter and you should take out some of the old tea mixture and feed it with new tea and sugar if you don’t use it for a week or two.

  28. Kelsey says

    I bought a dehydrated scoby from cultures for health… there was a sale and all I had to pay was $3.99 for shipping. I didn’t realize how long it would take to rehydrate the scoby before even starting my first batch. About 30 days. Being less than patient, I did research on starting a scoby from store-bought. I went to the nearest Whole Foods and bought the GT original kombucha. You must be 21 to buy it. I figured I might as well try since I’d be waiting for the dehydrated scoby anyhow. I followed the directions online and within two weeks had a nice little scoby. Now, I have two large scobies (in two containers) that are thick, white and producing new layers each week. I’ve tinkered with the recipe and have made everything from a light refreshing soda-like drink, to a more sour, strong kombucha. The deyhydrated scoby, even a month later NEVER did anything but sink to the bottom of the jar. No new scoby, nothing! Even with feedings, like the instructions said. Oh well, my impatience paid off for once! haha. So if you can’t afford the $20+ for a fresh scoby online, I suggest trying to grow one from GT original. No flavors, and NOT the enlightened version. You might have luck!

  29. says

    I remember back when I followed your instructions for growing a SCOBY with a bottle of plain GT’s Kombucha. I got the result you showed and ended up throwing it away discouraged. Next time I bought a locally handmade bottle of Kombucha that had some SCOBY like stuff already growing in it. I used the method here-

    My SCOBY is still going strong some years later. Buy a bottled Kombucha from a small maker and it may work better than one from a factory. Thanks for the update.

  30. says

    I just grew one from a bottle and thought it was successful, but after reading this, I’m not so sure. It’s pretty thin, and took over a month. I’m on my first batch of tea post-growing now, we’ll see. I have a feeling I’ll be contacting Kombucha Kamp.

  31. says


    Finally getting around to this blog/email and I wanted to let you know
    my experience with GT’s original because I always keep a bottle of the original on hand.
    Sometimes after bottling I will drain my crock a bit too low and I will
    then add half a bottle of GT’s to my crock along with the new batch of tea.
    Often the remaining half bottle will sit in the spare fridge for weeks or even
    a month. When I retrieve the bottle there is ALWAYS a baby scoby
    which gets moved to my crock.

  32. says

    hum… Ive grown several from GT’s brand with no trouble at all. I have three gallons going in my kitchen full time all from one healthy vigorous scoby grown from one bottle of GT’s. a few months ago.

  33. Carrie says

    I started one from an original bottle of GT’s about 5 days ago. It’s about 1/8 inch thick now. Not bad for it being winter in New England!

    I found a bottle that had a nice jellyfish-like look to the beginnings of the SCOBY at the bottom. I bought 2 bottles after sorting through several, with in intention of adding the culture from the second bottle later on. 5 days later, I went back to add the second culture and found the 1/8″ culture from the first one growing well enough that I skipped adding the second one.

  34. Ho_Dizzle says

    Great post, although, I have had several successful runs with growing SCOBYs from GT’s enlightened… While it did take up to 3 weeks, I had no issue at all. This was done during the Spring/Summer of 2012 so definitely after the recall/reformulation…

  35. says

    I bought a bottle of Kickin’ Kombucha at Whole Foods. It’s bottled in Houston, I’m in Houston. It had wisps of stuff in it, which I considered likely SCOBY material.

    I drank most of the bottle and put the last half-cup or so in a small jar and put it in the cupboard. The wisps (which I affectionately referred to as “the booger”) grew into a little mother in about a week. Then I put it in a slightly bigger jar, fed it a little sweetened tea (1/3 c water, 1 T sugar, steeped with two teabags left over from our morning cup of tea) and let it sit for another 4 days.

    This morning I brewed some tea to start my first real batch of kombucha with my new SCOBY.

  36. Mike says

    Wow, I have grown ALL my kombucha cultures from Dave’s GT using your recipe POST 2010, and I have had fantastic results! Strange. I used the Enlightened original, as you said. Still adding a bottle now and then to my batches, and everything is going well. Thought you’d like to know.

  37. Toki says


    I used your old post to grow my own SCOBY. I was able to use the storebought kombucha and it grew beautifully, well similar to #2. It only took about a week and a half in -30, -40 conditions outside in an old character home with shoddy at best heating.

    I just wanted to let you know it worked and I thank you ever so much for the instruction! It was instrumental in my success.

    What kind of kombucha do you get in the states? Is it maybe different that the Canadian kind?

  38. says

    I have actually had success with the Synergy kombucha – it has been a week and half and my scoby is about 1/6 of an inch thick, white, and looks pretty healthy. Love all your information! Thanks for sharing!

  39. Kristy Price says

    I just ordered my scoby from Kombucha Kamp, thank you for the recommendation. Once I get my scoby, what do I do with it to make the tea? and How do I add ginger and berry juice?

  40. says

    Hello! I have successfully grown my own SCOBY using GT’s “Gingerade” kombucha. I am still letting it grow a bit more, although it is already 1/4″ thick in just over a week. I look forward to brewing with it but after reading this am skeptical. Hopefully mine will last until I can afford to purchase a SCOBY. Thank you for your informative article.

  41. Angela says

    I tried your former recipe for a homemade scoby. The first didn’t work. The second time, it kinda worked, but not really. So I added more sugar midway thinking maybe it just needed more food. Then I forgot about it. I checked it yesterday and it is about 1/4 of an inch thick! I think it looks good. I need to buy a large glass jar for my first official batch! I’m so excited to move forward now.

    I am rather surprised that you can’t find anywhere, local health food store, to buy a scoby. Quite frustrating.

  42. Brittany says

    I seem to be successfully growing a scoby from GT’s Original enlightened formula, when i bought the bottle it seem to have a little paper thin disk of cultures floating around at the bottom so i assumed that would help it out, i had no idea it had an additive otherwise i would have bought the brown bottle. Anyway its 1/4 inch thick after only about 11 days, there’s also like a white cloud at the bottom of the jar, is this normal? And is this first batch ok to drink or should a discard it only keeping a little to start a new fresh batch with the fully grown scoby?

  43. Cinthya Cuba de Zabal says

    The weirdest thing just happened to me. I just bought GTs Original Kombucha from Whole Foods in Alexandria, VA and my bottle came with a scoby!!!!!!! First I thought I was crazy, but then I saw it clearly floating inside my bottle!!! How did that happen? It’s about an inch or more thick and the size of the circumference of the bottle. I never made my own kombucha, but I guess I might as well start to. I poured the bottle into a jar and covered it with a napkin and secured it with a rubber band. This is crazy!

  44. Amanda says

    Within the last six months, I WAS able to grow a SCOBY from store bought kombucha, BUT… my apartment is unusually warm and it did seem to take longer than in the past. Thank you for sharing this update, so that we know what’s up.

  45. Heather says

    The other day I was at a small health food store and noticed a dark bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha sold only to people over 21. I was really happy about this because I hadn’t even noticed that the original formula had been tweaked to an ‘enlightened’ version. Truthfully, I felt a little upset that they had quietly changed the mainstream formula while keeping the look of the bottles nearly the same. The natural food store I went to told me they had to go through a lot of loop holes to get GT’s original formula kombucha (with alcohol) on their shelves. I was wondering if you thought it was worth a try to use this version to make a Scoby (since it contains alcohol)? You can check out what I’m talking about on their website here: http://synergydrinks.com/index.php/products#classic-kombucha

  46. Morgan says

    This is so bizarre to me. I read your post on how to make your own scoby awhile ago and tried it using a local brand of KT and nothing happened. So I decided to give it another go when I saw GT’s Kombucha on sale a few weeks back. I live in Oregon. I cannot find the bottle now but it was GT’s Original Raw (probably enlightened because the other bottle I bought that day of KT’s gingerade is ‘elightened”) – it came in a clear glass bottle with no alcohol listed. I followed your instructions and after 2 weeks I had a 1/4″ scoby which is now a beautiful 1″ thick scoby. Just wanted to write to say GT’s Original Raw worked for me.

  47. Gina says

    I grew a scoby using GT’s Enlightened Original Raw Kombucha. It’s the blue one. I found it at Sprouts here in Austin, TX for 2 for 5 bucks. It’s been fermenting for two weeks in my warm laundry room. It’s about 1/4″ thick right now. I’m going to let it sit for another week. Super excited!

  48. Leah says

    I grew my own SCOBY from GT organic raw kombucha bottle (the blue one) about a year ago and have been getting gallons of kombucha ever since. I grew it in the summer and I feel like it took a week or so. I use normal black tea, white sugar, and tap water in a glass vessel, secondary fermentation in glass or plastic bottles and all my friends tell me it’s the best they’ve had. Even made a SCOBYless batch as an experiment using 2 cups of starter tea into a gallon of sweet tea, so I know my bugs are healthy.

  49. Ginger says

    I will still try to grow my own SCOBY from store bought kombucha,because I refuse to pay the high prices for SCOBY’s online or locally. I paid $12 for a tiny one at a local farmers market and was told it would make great kombucha, well it made kombucha but it was not like the kombucha I had grown with a homemade SCOBY a few years ago. I did everything the woman said and the kombucha was like drinking liquid sugar.

  50. Sarah says

    Grew my own scoby and it actually worked! Took 3 weeks; used a state side kombucha brew, not GT. Going to start my first brew in a few days, crossing my fingers.

  51. Ivan says

    Still managed to grow a scoby using method #1. Bought a GT Dave kombucha bottle and after growing it for three weeks have scoby. Thanks!.

  52. Morgen says

    I just checked on my scoby I started from a bottle of GTs about 10 days ago and it is already one quarter of an inch thick. It is GTs Original in the blue bottle.

  53. EuphoricEric says

    I have always wanted to make Kombucha and finally got focused enough to start my “mother” from a bottle of GT’s (blue label) Enlightened Raw Organic Original. I’m skeptical, but have high hopes because of the sediment and stringiness of the bottle I purchased. I’ll keep everyone posted on my experience.

  54. Karli says

    I’m actually trying to make a SCOBY from storebought. I tried previously with the GT stuff, but it want wonky, but this time I’m using Celestial Seasonings kombucha to start it. Hopefully it works because this is the only unflavored brand I can find.

  55. Miriam Simmons says

    I love volunteers in my gardens (like sunflowers and dandelion greens) so was thrilled When my beet kvass gave me a volunteer scoby when I skipped drinking it for a week…it was thin and weak but matured nicely. And it was “free!!” Yeah

  56. Komboocha Cha says

    Just checked out the recipe on Kombucha Camp website. Apparently for theirs you need a starter liquid. Funny, all that time i been making it without starter liquid? Or are they just trying to sell me something?

    • Stephanie says

      Starter liquid helps insure your SCOBY remains strong and doesn’t get overrun by bad bacteria or mold. If you don’t have a starter liquid you can use GT’s plain (or original) kombucha… make sure it is room temp, not cold. If you are already making kombucha then just reserve a cup or two of the liquid in your brew (from the top) and set aside with your mother in order to start a new batch.

  57. Doug says

    You can’t grow a scoby from gt because its not kombucha. They use gbi 306086 and add juice and I guess some tea haha there product has nothing to do w/ kombucha anymore…. High country kombucha is the most legit store bought. Let me know if I should explain more

    • Stephanie says

      You can totally grow a SCOBY from GT. And GT is totally still kombucha… not sure what you feel kombucha is or isn’t but I am, in fact, growing my own baby SCOBY’s from GT right now. And it’s working out great: they look beautiful and are growing rapidly. Yay for cheap SCOBY’s! GT still sells an original kombucha without any juice; which is obviously the kombucha you would want to use if you are looking to grow a SCOBY from it.

    • Sandra says

      I grew my SCOBY from GT. No problems with it at all. I have also bought bottles of GT that already have a SCOBY floating in them.

  58. Leilani says

    Would you still be able to grow SCOBYs from (specifically) GT’s kombucha if its even a couple days expired?

  59. Emily says

    Hi! I read about how you were having trouble growing your own SCOBY from store bought tea. I was having the same trouble at four weeks and forgot to discard my tea. It’s probably been closer to two months now (hooray for putting my SCOBY starter jar solution stuff (I’m tired) in a high place I couldn’t reach and thus kept forgetting about) and my husband declared we had to throw it away. To my surprise it was probably close to half an inch thick and looked like the other SCOBYs I’d seen on the internet. I’m making my first batch of kombucha with it and I’ll report back on how it turns out. ūüėÄ

  60. Ruth says

    In the last month have accidentally purchased two bottles of GT Enlightened with SCOBYs already in them. Today I left one on the counter to come to room temperature, and it has grown already – in the unopened bottle! I will buy some organic tea tomorrow and give it a new home, or I’m afraid I will have a renegade SCOBY loose in my home! I’ll just have to make small batches, if I can’t find any local half or one gallon jars immediately.

  61. Trang says


    I have been growing kombucha for the four years I lived in Hawaii but when I moved in January to Boston I had to stop brewing. I have been trying to restart for a while and haven’t found a S.C.O.B.Y around here until the other day. I had bought a couple of synergy Kombucha drinks from the health food store. I saw one had a mother in it and decided to experiment and see if it would produce. Just my luck it only been two weeks ( I know were not suppose to mess with it but I just wanted to make sure something was happening) and the baby SCOBY was there. Just like what a kombucha batch should look like. It has one more week to go before I change the tea out. For this batch I’m not going to drink the tea and wait for the next batch I make.

  62. Sandra says

    I have been reading about kombucha and thought that I would try to get my own SCOBY going by using GT Dave’s Raw Kombucha as my starter. I have had excellent results and am currently using that SCOBY to do continuous batch brewing. My SCOBY is thick, healthy and I have been able to separate the babies to get an additional batch going. After reading all that has been said about the poor results from using store bought kombucha as a starter, I have to share that it worked for me the first time and has been amazing!

  63. Monique says

    Hi there! I could not bring my self to purchasing a culture, and my barter ads on craigslist weren’t finding anything, so I decided I would try to grow one from a bottle.

    I used Brooklyn Kombucha, you could see some of the culture in the bottle, and used some of the kombucha as a starter.

    I have a SCOBY in THREE DAYS.

    it is still possible!

  64. says

    Has anyone tried growing kombucha from a vinegar mother or vinegar from a kombucha mother? I ask because I have tons of vinegar mothers- even my white cleaning vinegar grows them. And after reading Paul Stamets on kombucha cultures I am convinced that the cultures in the scoby will adapt to the growing medium. So you may start out with more acetic acid with a vinegar mother but I bet under household conditions the glucaronic acid will develop on a sugar and tea base.

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  66. Vicki says

    I recently bought an expensive kit from Kombucha Kamp for my new daughter-in-law. After hearing glowing reports about the health benefits, I would like to try this for myself; however, I am allergic to Camellia sinensis (tea), but not to most herbal teas. Is it possible to make Kombucha from some other organic plant? If this is possible, where would I get a SCOBY or is there a recipe for how to make my own without tea?

  67. Tia says

    You may have already answered this question (but it is pretty late and I have a baby due to wake any moment, so I cannot try to read every question to find the answer, maybe you can help?) I started growing my own SCOBY from a bottle of GT’s on Dec 11 (not knowing about your experiment or findings). After three weeks, I had an 1/8″ SCOBY growing successfully albeit slow, as it is very cold here, and my home doesn’t get about 68-70 during any given time of day. What happened after I noticed the successful growth is what is confusing me. The SCOBY sank (as it seems to do, from what I’ve read) and in its place, about 2″ up is ANOTHER SCOBY of the same size growing. ?? Two separate SCOBYs in one jar? Is this normal? Or should I toss the whole batch and start using an already established one? Both look healthy, one floating, one sunk, but I have no idea how to go forward (first attempt). Any tips?

  68. Rita Proctor says

    I found this post after buying a dehydrated scoby from a local store. I followed instructions to a T and got something that looked like kefir grains floating in the middle surface of the liquid after the 30 days. I used TJ’s organic sugar, Numi organic breakfast blend (assam, ceylon darjeeling and keemun), and white vinegar. The scoby got more plump, had tons of yeasty stuff in the bottom of the jar. I was worried the white stuff could be mold so I IMed the support team at the company that manufactures the scoby. I sent a pic and they said it was mold, I’m not convinced it is. I fed the jar 1 cup of a solution made of: 6.5 c water, 1/2 c sugar and 1 c vinegar. I was thinking this may bump up whatever might have been growing to make it more obvious. It is cold here but we keep the house at 65. Will this help you think?

  69. Sarah says

    I, too, am currently having great success growing a mama from GT Dave’s enlightened original. Maybe they changed something again.

  70. Janette says

    I just got a little obsessed with fermenting and even though I have NEVER tried kombucha, I decided to to try growing my own SCOBY using instructions from a previous post on this site. I used GT’s Raw Unfiltered (plain) kombucha and it worked! I have successfully fermented my first batch of kombucha, started a second and even gave the baby kombucha away. Thanks for the great instructions and updates!

  71. Regina says

    Very interesting. I grew a nice thick kumbucha mother from a store bought GT brand kumbucha.
    To be fair though, I bought about FOUR bottles. I would drink half, stick the rest in the fridge planning to grow a mother later. Well, when later came around I had FOUR half bottles. I followed the instructions on your blog, I just used all FOUR half bottles and hoped for the best. The bottles had been in the back of my fridge for way too long!

    I compared notes from another blog on how to grow your own. She suggested your method, but her method also included adding more tea & sugar after 3 days for an additional burst of sugar. I think I brewed another quart tea & 1/2cp sugar and added it to the growing mother. I poured all the contents into a gallon sized jar. I then let it sit for another 7-10 days. In the end I ended up w/ a small mother- the same size as the original jar opening and then a second much larger & thicker mother on top. I just used the larger mother to brew my first batch of kumbucha. My kumbucha grew another huge mother. So now I have 1 batched of finished kumbucha and 4 mothers– various sizes!

    I think the second feeding when starting the first mother might have been what made the difference. Oh and the fact I had FOUR half jars of kumbucha!

    Thanks for all the posts on your blog.

  72. James says

    I read your original post without seeing the disclaimer that it’s not recommended. I tried it with the dave’s GT original and it work perfect. it made from what I can tell a perfect scoby. I just so happened to be looking at some stuff for my third batch and noticed that the method was not recommended. But it took about two months for the scoby to form for me. It makes good booch though. I messed up my second batch didn’t make my tea very strong and added to much sugar I think and maybe not enoguh stater just bad all the way around but it was my fault and the mother scobys are fine. But yours are much thicker over all. I have been brewing in mason jars though.

  73. Kat says

    I find it interesting that you’re telling people that it is not recommended to start their scoby from a store bought bottle. I have started successfully, more than a dozen scabies from a store bought bottle of kombucha.

    I know a lot of people that buy store bought and start their scoby without a problem.

  74. Jamie says

    That’s very odd because I am successfully growing a SCOBY from a bottle of store bought Kombucha right now. I’m at the one week mark and there is 3-4x the growth that you show in your 3 week photo.

  75. says

    Well this is disappointing to read, I just started my very first SCOBY-grow a few days ago with store bought (GT’s) Kombucha. I’m only just now hearing about how this isn’t always a successful method. Since I’ve already started it, I’m going to give it a while longer and report back on how it went, but in the meantime, I’m going to check out the resources you posted for getting a SCOBY starter culture. Thanks for doing this research, it was really helpful

    • steph says

      Craig, DONT GIVE UP ON IT YET! i just grew my first kombucha SCOBY from a store bought! It has worked great! It appears healthy. Be patient and experiment!

  76. says

    I was thinking of doing a post on how I made our kombucha and I knew I had used your post to help start the process using the store bought. I only noticed the note, about it no longer being recommended, with this visit. I oviously didn’t notice it when I used your recipe. However, we’re on our 4th or 5th batch and our SCOBY is beautiful, thick and produces some tasty stuff. Also, we noticed we had a wonderfully sized, thick SCOBY one week into making our 1st batch and it just keeps growing! We’re super happy with the results!

  77. nancy says

    Hi, I just finished using a bottle of Racconto Modena balsamic vinegar, and at the bottom of the bottle is what looks to be a lovely scoby about 1/2″ thick. It’s dark, the same color as the balsamic. I’m looking all over the ‘net for a way in which to make use of a balsamic scoby but am coming up short. Do you have suggestions? I cook a lot from scratch using whole foods. If you have any suggestions, I would be most appreciative. I don’t want to throw this mother out unnecessarily.


    Nancy in Texas

  78. Anna says

    I grew my scoby in a week from gt bottles 3 times. Very happy with it. Gave a few away and people were very happy with them as well

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