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!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You want it cool enough so that you don’t burn or damage the cultures. I let mine cool for a quite a while.

  • Joyceb1428

    I just drank my first kombucha… made my scoby from storebought kombucha. It is delicish!!!! I let it sit for 2 weeks!! Perfect….Thanks for the recipes..

  • jessica

    Wonderful post. Easy to follow with the pictures! Thank you!

  • Jimmy Hodum

    Just got done transferring my homegrown SCOBY into a larger container to brew my first batch! Your tips proved very useful! No contam, and one very thick SCOBY! In fact, it was so successful, I am going to the store for a few more bottles, so I can grow several and have them on hand!

    How long can one store a SCOBY in the fridge for?

    Thanks a million!

  • Jimmy Hodum

    probably more of a cubic thing than a square thing.. they seem to get really thick which involves three dimensions.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    The SCOBY will last for quite some time, at least 6 months or more. But you don’t need to buy any more – each time you brew a batch you produce an extra SCOBY. You’ll build up a stash pretty quickly, then you’ll be giving them away. =)

  • v.kunzite

    Can you drink the mixture that you made the scoby with?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Just make sure you save enough to act as “starter” for the new batch.

  • Guest

    I just did this with a bottle of GT’s “enlightened” Original Kombucha and ended up with a beautiful SCOBY! So easy. Now I’m making my first full batch. Great post. Thank you Sayward.

  • Hdezigns

    Hi Sayward, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for this valuable information. I anxiously waited 2 weeks for my SCOBY and it turned out beautifully, I will now be waiting anxiously for my first batch of Kombuca. Thank you again for taking your time to put together instructions for all the ‘do-it-yourselfers’ out here, it is greatly appreciated.


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  • Priscilla Kinter

    Genius! Thank you SO much for this!!!

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  • Rhonda R

    Help! My SCOBY didn’t grow :( I followed all the directions explicitly but all I ended up with is a yeasty liquid with a thin shiny skin on the top and 4 pinky fingernail sized white spots that are like thick discs. I have photos if they will help. I will try again but I am sad. Could it be that it is too hot? It’s been in the low upper 90′s & low 100′s.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You know Rhonda, that sounds to me like you had the start of a SCOBY there! How long did you let it go for? It might have just needed another week or so to thicken up.

  • Tierrem99

    Ball makes half gallon jars like this.

  • Sarah

    Hi there, I’m just trying this for the first time, thanks so much for posting! A question; If I have to use caffeinated tea, does that mean there will be caffeine in my Kombucha?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yeah, there might be a little caffeine left, but it’s *very* little, since the SCOBY feeds on it. All kombucha is made with caffeinated tea though, so this is true of all kombucha.

  • Sarah

    Thanks for your quick response! One more thing, I had two bottles of GT kombutcha, a flavored one and an original. The flavored one really fizzed a LOT when I tried to open it and it seemed to have lots of ‘threads’ at the bottom. The original flavor bottle hardly fizzed and didn’t have much ‘threads’. After I had poured the bottled kombucha into my tea I drank a little bit I had saved to taste it and it tasted ‘off’ almost like vinegar. Now I’m wondering if it’s not going to work and whether I should just start over with a fresh bottle (taste it FIRST this time!) What do you think??

  • Sayward Rebhal

    It sounds like the one you used had just been brewed longer. The longer you brew the more it will taste like vinegar. The flavored ones will always be fizzier since the addition of fruit/sugar restarts the carbonation process. You can do this at home, just add some fruit for a second brew after you finish a batch. I’m willing to bet the bottle you used will work just fine. Luck!

  • Sarah

    It worked, it worked! I have a beautiful thick scoby! Am I a little nutty to think it’s beautiful? lol Making my first batch of tea now….can’t wait to taste it. THANK YOU so much for this information!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awesome! Congrats!

  • Katja Heikkinen

    Does it matter which type of tea bags are used? I read somewhere that flavored like Earl Gray, which I like to drink, has some oils that it will not work … any suggestions are appreciated :) Thanks!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’ve heard something similar, but just FYI I’ve used Early Grey and it worked great. :-)

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  • Sarah

    Update: that batch I made produced the most awesome scoby ever! I have since successfully brewed more tea and grown more scobys, which in turn produces more questions! 1) I have been successful in growing some awe inspiring mother (and baby) scobys, but so far unsuccessful with my second stage fermentation- no fizz! I haven’t added any fruit yet, is that the problem maybe? If so, what kind of fruit juice is best? Can I use regular pasteurized apple juice? 2) The first batch was very sweet, the second quite vinegar-ish does that mean not long enough/ too long for fermentation or is it the amount of sugar i used? 3) what’s the best way to store my scobys when not using them to make tea; in the fridge; with a lid or just with a cloth over it in the cupboard? 4) My mother scoby is quite large, is it okay to use both mother and additional babies to brew my tea or should I just use one at a time? Sorry for all the questions! Thanks again for your help

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay! Okay, answers:

    1. I think you do need to add fruit or juice for the second-stage fermentation. It requires more sugar to make the fizz. I assume pasteurized apple juice would be okay, but I don’t usually do a second stage with my kombucha (I did with water kefir and used dried fruit). Maybe Google around for specific instructions?

    2. It is both the sugar and the duration – if you use less sugar you’ll need to brew for less time. Just hold the sugar steady and play around with duration (in the 10-21 days range) to see where you like the flavor. 10 days is too sweet for me, 21 is always to vinegary. I like just about 2 weeks exactly.

    3. I would definitely store SCOBYs int he fridge with a lid, with enough kombucha to completely cover them.

    4. I use multiples some times, it should be fine. =)

    Luck! <3

  • Sarah

    Thanks again! I’m going to continue experimenting. =)

  • misfit77

    not one site has metioned what do with the water from making a Mother SCoBY.
    Can we drink that? or it best to discard?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You can drink it, it’s just like a weak kombucha. But you’ll use most of it to store your SCOBY, and then that goes into the next batch of kombucha.

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  • Sequoia

    Do you know if the reformulated Kombucha works to grow scoby? or is it better to use the over 21 kind of Kombucha?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I believe that both of them will work.

  • White Lightning

    Thank you for helping me grow my own SCOBY. Another SCOBY out there thanks you for not having me abduct it. Like a BOSS.

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  • azqueen

    Does the store bought KT need to be room temp. before you use it?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I don’t think so. No, I’d say it definitely doesn’t have to be. =)

  • Skye

    I’m about a week and a half into growing my own SCOBY, and used the same type of starter & directions as pictured in this thread. I have a pretty decent amount of stuff started in there, but it’s all on the bottom, rather than floating at the top as most pictures show. Is this a problem?

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  • Sayward Rebhal

    Sometimes SSCOBYs just sink, as long as it looks and smells okay, it should be fine.

  • nena

    This method totally works. I followed the recipe exactly. It took 2 weeks to form a scoby. Thank you so much !

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  • Kelli

    Does it have to be caffeinated green or black tea? (For those who gotta nix the caffeine…) OR does it not even matter?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Absolutely must be caffeinated – the SCOBY lives off of the caffeine. The final product will contain very little caffeine, if any at all.

  • Marcia

    Thank you for providing directions to grow our own Scoby’s, I didn’t know it was possible! My question for you is: as someone with Type 2 Diabetes, adding fruit is such a good idea. I have always enjoyed Ginger Kombucha the best, would ginger work instead of fruit? Do I understand you correctly: adding the berries will cause the formation of the “fizz” normally found in kombucha? Thank you for your time and help.

  • anon

    I found one of those sun tea jars at walmart. It has a plastic lid and a spout so I can attempt making a continuous brew jar.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ginger would definitely work! It would cause the fizz as well. =)