What the Scoby Knows -- That Gleam in a Kombucha Brewer's Eye

Submitted 4 months ago
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Yesterday about this time, an Upper Valley local posted an innocent question in the Upper Valley (VT/NH) group on Facebook. "I am looking for a scoby to brew some kombucha. Is there someplace local I can purchase one, or do I need to order it online?"

Okay. Let's stop right there. "Scoby?" This wouldn't happen to be a misspelling, would it?


Turns out: Nope. As Wikipedia has it, a "scoby" is "a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, similar to mother of vinegar, containing one or more species each of bacteria and yeasts, which form a zoogleal mat[19] known as a 'mother.'" Kind of a microbial mess, in other words, but crucial to making kombucha, which you pretty much can't turn around without knocking into these days.

Well. The first response to the question suggested where this might head. "Best way I know is to just ask for one. Anybody who brews eventually ends up with extras and is generally willing to part with surplus." And sure enough, they came out of the woodwork -- the Upper Valley Kombucha Brewer Underground.

"Shelley, I have extra scobies for days, and I'd be happy to give you one."

"I have a ton of extra and some starter if you want it!"

"I have one in my pantry I’ve grown but never used. It was my first and so impressive I developed scoby performance issues and never used it. I wonder how he’s doing...."

Obviously, kombucha brewers are generous souls. And have a sense of humor.

Here's what a scoby looks like:

How did I get that pic? So I have this colleague, Tom. I suppose calling him a kombucha zealot would be unfair. But honest. Get him launched and a) there's no stopping him, b) he goes all tender and soft-voiced when he talks about his scobies, and c) there's a faintly maniacal gleam in the eye. Let's just settle for "devotee."  

Tom was the guy who said up above that he has "extra scobies for days." He was not joking. Here's his Scoby Hotel (please, no "you can check in but you can't check out" jokes, okay? We drink his stuff at work.)

Scoby hotel: you can check in but you can't check out.

It's been 24 hours, and no word yet on whether the original scoby-seeker has connected with another member of the Underground. It's possible she won't, because in amongst the advice was this: "If you purchase a PLAIN kombucha (no added fruits, herbs, etc) and use it as your base, you can grow your own SCOBY!!! It takes a couple batches to get fat and really strong, but it's awesome making it."

So there you have it. We'll give the next-to-last word to a friend of Tom's, who left this comment for him: "You should get to work on a [blog post] about the Vermontiest posts on Facebook. This is one of them."

Oh, and that photo up top? That's Tom's cherry-berry kombucha. Looks good, right? Please don't tell him I said so, but... It is! Sweet, tart, fruity. I wouldn't gulp it down, but for sipping on a hot day, it's pretty perfect. Those scobies know what they're doing.


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