If you’ve been brewing kombucha for a while, you may have started to wonder…how long does a SCOBY last? We’re breaking down the basics of the kombucha SCOBY lifespan here!
What is a SCOBY?
Before we dive into the lifespan of a kombucha SCOBY, it’s important to understand what a SCOBY actually is.
SCOBY is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. While the pellicle on top of the kombucha has come to be known as a SCOBY, technically the starter tea is the SCOBY, and the pellicle is simply the pellicle (but because 90% of people think that the pellicle is the SCOBY, that’s just what we call it to prevent even more confusion!)
So what makes the SCOBY/pellicle look and feel the way that it does? Well it consists mostly of cellulose, which is a natural bi-product of kombucha fermentation. If you remember back to biology class, cellulose is the same stuff that makes plant cell walls and veggie fibers!
Are kombucha SCOBYs reusable?
So now that we know what the SCOBY/pellicle is made of, can you reuse it from batch to batch?
Abso-freakin’-lutely! You can (and should) reuse the SCOBY/pellicle from one batch to the next. The built up cellulose helps to create a slightly anaerobic environment for the bacteria to thrive in, and it also contains bacteria and yeast needed to jumpstart fermentation (plus, you spent all that time making the SCOBY, why throw it away?!)
How long does a SCOBY last?
Put simply, kombucha SCOBYs can be reused for many years.
Realistically, however, you simply won’t need it to last that long. Your SCOBY grows and divides with each batch of kombucha, so you will constantly be growing new SCOBYs. Simply remove the older layers and transfer the new layers to your next batch.
When to replace your SCOBY
You should replace your kombucha SCOBY if you ever find traces of mold on it, or if it begins to turn black. But when treated with love and kept in the right environment, your SCOBY should last for years to come!
Need more SCOBY tips? Here’s how to care for your SCOBY when taking a break from brewing, and some fun ideas for using leftover SCOBYs!