How To Grow A ‘Mother’/SCOBY From Store Bought Kombucha

May 6th, 2010 - filed under: The Food » Recipes


I’m *so* excited to share this tutorial! The hardest party about home-brewing kombucha is getting your hands on a SCOBY – it’s either too costly or too hard to find – and I think that’s what stops a lot of folks from getting in on the game. But this is really easy and it really works, which means homemade kombucha is accessible to all!

I’ve written about kombucha in the past, what it is and also how to brew it. I was an avid aficionado until I got pregnant, at which point I decided to play it ‘better safe than sorry’ and put my operation on hold. Unfortunately, during my ten month hiatus my poor SCOBY went kaput!

Now wee Waits is here and I’m ready to re-enter the kombucha arena. I missed it! I missed the DIY satisfaction of it, the mad scientist aspect of it, and the probiotic action of it. That enigmatic elixir does my body good, and I wants it! So here’s what I did :

1. Buy a bottle of RAW, unpasteurized 100% kombucha (no fruit juice added). You will also need – a glass bowl, caffeinated (green or black) tea, sugar, a small towel or wash cloth, a large rubber band, and a glass jar with a plastic lid.


2. In a large, clean glass bowl, place 2 tea bags and 1 tbsp of sugar. Add 2 cups boiling water and allow the tea to steep for 10 minutes.


3. Remove tea bags and stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a bit, then add the entire bottle of store bought kombucha.


4. Cover with the towel and secure it with the rubber band. Place the bowl in a warm dry place (I put it on top of my fridge) and forget about it for 2 whole weeks. No peeking!

— 2 weeks later —

Take the bowl down and uncover it. OMG, you totally grew a SCOBY!



Store your SCOBY in the fridge, in a clean glass jar with a plastic lid and floating in the extra liquid. Brew kombucha according to these directions. ***Always handle the SCOBY with very clean hands!!!


Good luck!

  • Ginger

    Doesn’t the SCOBY live off the sugar not the caffeine?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    The SCOBY requires both sugar and caffeine to grow. Here’s a great reference article –

  • Amy Sasser

    I have some GT’s original and it has a tiny baby floating in it. I’ve drunk some out of it, but not much. Can I still use that to grow a mother SCOBY? Also, I have Lipton iced tea bags. Ingredients read: Orange Pekoe and Pekoe cut black tea. I’m assuming this tea will work?? Also, is it best to let it sit inside or could I put it on top of my freezer in my garage? We just use the garage for storage. I don’t have much available counter space – could I maybe put it on top of our upper kitchen cabinets if the garage wouldn’t work?

    SO EXCITED!! I’m hoping I can make some that my kids will drink. They’re partial to sodas, and I REALLY want to get them away from them. Any way to make a root beer or ginger ale flavored kombucha?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I wouldn’t try to grow a SCOBY from kombucha that you’ve drunken from, because your mouth would introduce lots of other bacteria.

    I also do not think lipton tea can be used, but I could be wrong. I’d just buy some plain black tea – it’s super cheap!

    Good luck getting hte kids to drink it! Lots of kids love it so you’ve got a good chance. =)

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  • Linda

    Do the tea and sugar measurements need to be exact? Because I just put a spoon of each into the mix.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Nope, don’t have to be exact!

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  • Amy Sasser

    I was able to grow the SCOBY successfully and even made a batch of kombucha. Lipton tea is black tea, per the label on the box of teabags. I’m afraid I’m going to have to flavor the bucha a bit so the kiddos will try it. I’m aiming for rootbeer flavored, as my son can’t get enough of conventional rootbeer when it’s available.

  • Christophe

    Just grew my first SCOBY, thanks to you! It was supposed to be…I guess born? on New Year’s Eve, but it’s been so cold there was hardly any SCOBY to speak of. So I took it out of my closet and put it right next to the radiator I have in my room and ended up with this glorious bad-boy. Thickened right up thanks to the heat, and it looks extremely healthy, too. As I said in my comment on the Kombucha brewing page (link below) I made this in a very large container so I can brew the first batch without ever touching the SCOBY. Oh, and if you don’t have a rubber band and a clean dishcloth you can do what I did and use paper towels tied on with dental floss to cover it.

    Thanks Sayward!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Looks BEAUTIFUL! So awesome!

  • Cinnamin

    Thank you for the information. I just brewed some kombucha with a scoby from my friend, but I’m glad to know this trick so I can share with others.

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  • Emma

    is it possible to make kombucha with decaffeinated tea?

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  • SL

    Hi, I was able to grow a healthy kombucha scoby with GT Gingerade. Just an FYI to everyone unable to get their hands on an original anywhere nearby.

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  • kairrr777

    i am wondering if you can still make kombutcha without having your SCOBY fully

  • another wacko

    I have a jar of Kambucha that has been fermenting in the pantry all winter, possibly longer. The temperature has been pretty even, between 60-70 degrees. It looks like an ordinary batch, but the Scoby is much thicker. What are the chances that this is still safe to drink? And what are the odds of sudden death from this “alien oddity”?

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  • Kat

    If it still looks fine, and there’s no mold or black spots, it’s fine to drink! Might be a bit strong, but you can cut it with water or juice for drinking.

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  • J M

    I used the GT Gingerade too, and now I have the most adorable scoby that I am freakishly proud of. Now we tackle the first batch, and hopefully my family will stop giving me weird looks.

  • Ricky Lee Barnes

    Worked for me too! Super simple. Side note: they’re much firmer than I expected lol

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  • Becky

    I have not even started to do this yet. You say to use a jar with a plastic lid. I don’t have a plastic lid. Does it have to be plastic and why? What kind of container do you put it in for the second fermentation? Thanks!

  • Tammy Travis

    did you figure out how to get a rootbeer flavor? I am in the process of growing my first scoby. Its only a week old

  • Sarah

    So, I just found this on Pinterest – I notice most of the discussion is very old – when I went to the health food store to get the same kombucha you used here – the lady said you can no longer grow your own from store bought, as all store bought kombucha were required to change their recipes in 2013. Has anyone done this process since then, does it still work?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I made a SCOBY from store bought ‘booch in 2014 and it worked great. I think you’ll be fine!

  • Scott Bailey

    2017 and this still works!

  • Mary Ritter I just bought a bottle of GT’s cranberry kombucha tea and started to try and grow a “mother” on 3/31/17, I have what looks to be a promising lady, albeit thin still {it’s only been 4 days} but it appears to be a winner, even with the “new” recipe. Also, I didn’t use a towel, I saw on another site to try a coffee filter, it works perfect on my mason jar. It also was mixed and said made with organic cranberry juice only. Good luck, it worked for me!

  • Doggypaw

    Is there any way I can go on vacation for 3 weeks and return with SCOBY that will still be usable, or must I throw it out and start all over again. Also, how long will the fermented Kobachu last in the fridge? Thx.

  • Kathy Meldrum Hoover

    Root beer is made from sassafras. You should be able to find sassafras flavoring on Amazon.

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