Brew kombucha often? Then you’ll soon be overrun by SCOBYs! I was so glad when I discovered that I can save them! Learn how to make a SCOBY hotel to have extra SCOBYs, or SCOBYs to share with friends.
Kombucha is a social beverage, in more ways than one!
Yes, everyone loves to visit while sharing a glass, but get this…
Every batch of kombucha produces new growth on your SCOBY (recommended source). Kinda like tree rings in a tree!
This new growth can be peeled off and shared with a friend. Learn how in my post How To Divide A SCOBY.
What Is A SCOBY? What’s Kombucha?
What is a SCOBY? It stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.
It’s the mother culture that brews your Kombucha — a probiotic, fermented beverage we LOVE!
When wet, it is shiny, and looks a bit weird. Like a sea creature, actually — a round disc-shaped something or other you’d imagine you’d find out deep-sea diving.
It can be smooth or lumpy. Some contain holes and have ragged or stringy edges.
As long as there’s nothing fuzzy on them, black/white/brown/grey specks are normal, too. (Find out if your SCOBY is healthy here.)
What Do I Do With Baby SCOBYs?
Each new batch of Kombucha will grow a new “baby” SCOBY. These babies can be passed down to friends, or you can keep them to build up a thicker, faster-producing SCOBY.
However, once you brew and drink kombucha for long enough, you won’t have enough friends to keep giving the baby SCOBYs!
Other ways to use your SCOBYs are to give them to your pets (or farm animals), add it to the compost, make SCOBY jerky or Kombucha jello… or build a SCOBY hotel.
What Is A SCOBY Hotel?
Introducing the SCOBY hotel! What is it?
It’s a large container with the sole purpose of housing a number of SCOBYs. It keeps them fresh in Kombucha liquid until they can be used or given away.
You can also use this method to create Kombucha vinegar (see more on this below!).
How To Create A Scoby Hotel
To create a SCOBY hotel…
- Choose a large, clean, glass container. (I use a 1/2 gallon glass jar that currently holds about 12 SCOBYs.)
- Place all your SCOBYs in the jar.
- Add a small amount of finished Kombucha plus a batch of fresh tea — just as you would if you were brewing a batch of kombucha. For my 1/2 gallon jar, I use about 1 cup of finished Kombucha plus 3 cups of tea prepared with 1/2 cup of evaporated cane sugar and 4 tea bags.
- Cover the jar with 2 coffee filters or a clean cloth, and secure with a rubber band.
- Store in a warm dry place for up to 2 weeks.
- Replace the Kombucha regularly with a fresh batch. The finished Kombucha can be poured off and consumed, or discarded.
Please note that Kombucha stored in a hotel (with numerous SCOBYs) ferments more quickly than normal and is much more potent. If you wish to drink it, it may be ready sooner than you’d usually expect.
How Long Does A SCOBY Last?
When properly maintained, a SCOBY will last indefinitely.
Yet SCOBYs are also very hearty and can handle a bit of neglect. If they sit too long, they’ll simply ferment your tea into vinegar.
If you don’t think you’ll ever have a use for your extra SCOBYs, you can use your SCOBY hotel to make Kombucha vinegar. The longer your sweet tea or Kombucha ferments, the more acidic it will become.
After a while, it will be extremely tart and double as vinegar in recipes. It’s delicious used in salad dressings or even used to soak grains or beans.
What do you do with your extra Kombucha SCOBYs? Do you have a SCOBY hotel?
Want to learn more about Kombucha? Check out our Lacto-Fermentation eCourse to learn how to do 1st and 2nd fermentation, along with bottling!
Also, read more from the Traditional Cooking School blog about this nutritious fermented beverage:
save time, spend less, and get healthy... simple & delicious traditionally-cooked meals using ingredients you already have... even leftovers... 30 min or less!
free worksheet + videos:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes... While Spending $0 Extra!
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Carol J. Alexander says
So, you don’t store your scobies in the fridge? I’ve always kept mine in the fridge, and the kombucha. Is that a no-no?
Jenny Cazzola says
Carol, I think that is fine. I keep mine on the counter so I can use the tea the scobies are stored in. Just know if you put them in the fridge, you will slow the fermentation process down; but I don’t think it will hurt them any.
Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition and The Entwife's Journal says
AT the website Kombucha Kamp she says to never put your scobies in the fridge. FYI.
I got my info from Yemoos where I purchased my original scoby. Although I have never personally tried it, they claim that the scobies can be stored in the fridge in a sealed jar. If one is unsure, I would recommend just refrigerating a few first so you don’t end up losing or damaging your whole batch.
I have been storing mine in a fridge for years. Sometimes they will be in there for 3 months before I make some tea. They still work just fine. Have had no problems whatsoever.
I always store SCOBY’s in the fridge until I need them. I’ve never had a problem and they create wonderful kombucha each time.
So glad I am seeing these comments. I just bought several scoby’s and put them in the fridge, then found directions that said absolutely DO NOT sstore in the fridge. I’m a little more optimistic now that I didn’t waste money on them. Gonna give it a go again tomorrow – my first try was not so good (mold).
Charlene Stephens says
I go to Mexico for the winter and leave my scobys in a qt mason jar with some komucha and a bit of extra sugar. When I return after 5 months I start a new batch I make 4 gallons at a time. I have enough scobys from the fridge and add about 1/3 cup of white vinegar to each gallon to ensure no mold. Works every time. I could go buy a few bottles of store bought kombuch instead of the vinegar but vinegar is cheap and kombucha is dear.
I inherited a 3 month old scoby in a zipper bag that was stored in the fridge. I now have 2 huge ones and the original piece and I’m only on my 3rd brew. I thought it was deceased but NAY! Scoby lives!
Hi Jenny, Can you please tell me how often do I need to change the brew tea in my scoby hotel?
Penny Simmons says
I feed my extra scobies to my chickens. They LOVE them and it helps keep the ladies’ gut in good shape. I just grind the scoby up in my blender and pour out for the girls to enjoy.
Jenny Cazzola says
I’ve heard about feeding them to chickens and I need to give it a try. I think ours would enjoy it. 🙂
I give the scobys to the chickens too but whole and they love them. I also strain out any fermented fruit from bottles that my kids have as they don’t like chunks and the chickens love that too. especially ginger.
I recently heard of dehydrating scobys and giving to your pet (dog) as a treat. Can’t wait to try…as I am definitely getting overrun!
Jenny Cazzola says
I’ve heard of that too. I think my dogs would enjoy it. 🙂
Katie J says
Also, check out making “SCOBY snacks”. Yum!
Iryna B. says
I recently tried it and failed. 🙁 As soon as my dog starts to shew on it it becomes soft and sour. She doesnt like it that way. Also, if you’d like to try it, keep in mind that 1″ thick scoby will dry into a paper thin piece.
Better stick with chickens.
I cut mine up in little bits and keep in fridge and just give her them without drying. You would think it was bacon, she looooves it.
Now they are saying that the caffeine in the scoby is too much for the dogs and they are experiencing bad side affects even so much as death.
Janice Mines says
I don’t like green or black tea I make hibiscus tea or a berry tea with a base of red raspberry leaf tea because I am trying to get more red raspberry leaf tea into my diet as I am 34 weeks pregnant.pretty sure you don’t have to use a caffinated tea though you would want to avoid some teas with some kinds of oils like orange or peppermint
I often just compost mine if no one wants any:( But when I’m not actively making kombucha I usually just store mine in leftover kombucha from the batch I just made, It has lasted up to 3+ weeks just on the counter top, it definitely forms a new scoby on top though. I have never put my scobys in the fridge of fed them extra when not using them, and they are really healthy! This does sound like it would be better for them though, I’m just lazy;)
Jenny Cazzola says
Lindsay I compost some of mine too. I think if yours are healthy than they are doing fine. I’d keep going with whatever works for you. I also replace my tea more frequently because I use what is in my hotel as a starter tea. I like a lot of different flavors so I have a few batches going at one time usually.
I stick them in my smoothies…they have a lot of B vitamins and it doesn’t taste like anything!
Jenny Cazzola says
That is a good idea! Do they “blend” well? Seems to me like they’d be chunky. Not that that would be a problem, but I’m just curious.
John MacDowall says
Check out the fermentation I’ve got going!
and scroll all the way to the bottom of the post!
Wardee Harmon says
John – Wow – very cool! 🙂
Anne Carson says
I used to make Kombucha tea about 20 years ago and of coarse…shared with friends.A friend of my daughter had a had a youngster who was allergic to “everything”…his mom put him on the tea and he got over his allergies.Great stuff.I’ll have to get into it again.I’m going to try to get your book on fermentation from some of our local book stores here in Canada.
Rebekah - Naturally Blessed Mama says
Thanks for posting this! I wondered if there was a way to store scobies and now I know there is!
Please tell me how and where to order your book on fermentation.
Thank you, Lilia
You can order the Lacto-Fermentation eBook here: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/ecourse/books
I was taught how to make this by a friend 4-5 months ago and my batch is still on the fridge, I was a little overwhelmed at the process and it is our busy time with everything around here. Wondering if I can save the scobies or do I need to start over?
Tish Castle says
I just found some scobies in a jar and have been in a cupboard for 2 years I opened it it does not smell bad .Do you think it would be safe to use still.They have multiplied,but no mold as I can see.
I have yet to try to make anything out of my left over scobys. They do not gross me out, but the thought of making snacks out of them is a little scary to me. I see recipes all over the place, but I would like to have a better idea of what the flavor is like before going through all the trouble.
I add kombucha to the chickens drinking water; it keeps the water desinfected (certainly during warm summers). It helps when I can’t give them fresh water for a day or two.
Has anyone given a scoby to their cats dehydrated or nondehydrated?
Lynn Frizzell says
Hello, I bought a bottle of kombucha at the grocery yesterday and it was so delish! I am going to try to make my own. Here is my question, I noticed the little bits floating on the bottom of the glass bottle – is that the scoby? Can I use that to start my own? Or do I need to buy one from the Amazon site? Thank you for your assist! 🙂
John Smith says
Yes , That will work for you. Just follow the recepie. Red Dog Kombucha.
I have a gallon jug filled with kombucha scobies and another filled with apple cider vinegar mothers that I have grown. Makess for some interesting conversations when guests think I’ve become a mad scientist growing strange creatures in my laboratory.
Confused about the Hotel storage part. Thought you were talking about two sep . Things. Where can I find people who have Scoby to give away?
I like making Rice Wine, might this Scoby work with making wine?
Going to head out to find some Kombucha drink now.
Hey love this site so much. Am really keen to start making kombucha and am in the process of trying t grow a scoby. Everywhere I have seen that a skin should form on top of the liquid and that is the beginning of the scoby? Mine seems to be developing on the bottom of the jar??? Am I doing something wrong?
Thanks again for this site is quite inspirational.
what happen if I leave my Kombucha on a fermentation process a month or so? I was really busy and couldn’t take care of it. I hope is not over done.
Do I understand correctly that I just use tea and sugar and don’t add extra water when I’m making a scoby hotel? When you make kombucha you add extra water to the tea and sugar.
How do I find someone who has extra Scoby laying around their kitchen I can have?
I have made Wine Wine aka Makalli . I am looking into
Kombucha now and Mushroom coffee and tea.
Going out to get me a bottle of Kombucha to start my first brew.
Beth Ann says
Perhaps this may have been answered in some other post. I am going to ask here anyway. If one has no convenient friends to get a scoby from and does not wish to buy one, how would one go about potentially making one?
Make up a fresh brew, wait to cool then add a bottle of raw kombucha to liquid, the cultures in it will feed on the sugars and start up a scoby
Is ‘scobies’ the correct grammar? Surely the ‘Y’ in the acronym doesn’t give birth to ‘ies’……just a thought ?
When you store your scobies in the hotel, is there a lid on it or does it need to breathe and if you store the hotel in the fridge, same question!
Paula Bee says
I brew kombucha in a gallon jar and would like to use a ½ gallon jar for my hotel (limited space). Will that bother the SCOBYs with the different size? Thanks so much for you help and taking the time to help others be successful! You are appreciated!
I am allergic to both black and green tea. Can I make kombucha from herbal tea?
Julie Cinquina says
What would be the reason to keep all those SCOBYs?
Jack Wood says
I have little white flecks that seem to be growing in my Scoby hotel. Are those anything to worry about?
Wendy Gardner says
I’ve bought a new SCOBY as I didnt have a hotel….aaargh..threw away hundreds of ginormous babies over the years…good article Jenny..thankyou
Does the Scoby remove the caffeine in the tea as it ferments?