A kombucha SCOBY is just one of five ingredients required to make kombucha tea at home. Our kombucha SCOBYs are sold in a dehydrated state so that they are shelf-stable and safe for shipping. Store the dehydrated culture in the refrigerator until ready to activate.

Before You Begin

  • Always use distilled white vinegar when activating the culture. Distilled white vinegar produces the best and most consistent results for activating a dehydrated SCOBY.
  • Due to differences in culturing conditions and environment, it is normal that no baby SCOBY form for the first few batches.
  • Allow the activation batch to rehydrate for the full 30 days, to ensure that the SCOBY is ready to use for making kombucha.

Activating the SCOBY: What You'll Need

Equipment for Activating a Kombucha SCOBY

Learn more about choosing the best equipment for making kombucha.

  • Quart-size glass jar
  • Plastic or wooden stirring utensil
  • Tight-weave cloth or paper coffee filter
  • Rubber band to secure the cover to the jar

Ingredients for Activating a Kombucha SCOBY

Learn more about choosing the ingredients for making kombucha.

Instructions for Activating the Kombucha SCOBY

  1. Combine 2-3 cups hot water and ¼ cup sugar in a glass jar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.   
  2. Add the tea or tea bags to the sugar water to steep.
  3. Cool the mixture to 68-85ºF. The tea may be left in the liquid as it cools or removed after the first 10-15 minutes. The longer the tea is left in the liquid, the stronger the tea will be. 
  4. Remove the tea bags or completely strain out the loose tea leaves.
  5. Add ½ cup distilled white vinegar to the liquid.
  6. Add the dehydrated kombucha SCOBY.
  7. Dampen the cloth or coffee filter with distilled white vinegar.
  8. Place the dampened cover on the jar and secure with the rubber band. Do not use an air-tight lid.
  9. Keep the cover damp with vinegar during the culturing period, as a barrier against airborne mold.
  10. Allow the mixture to culture undisturbed at 68-85°F, out of direct sunlight, for 30 days.
  11. After 30 days, even if there is no visible change to the SCOBY or liquid, test the aroma and flavor. The liquid should taste rich and vinegary. At this point, your SCOBY is activated.
  12. Pour kombucha off the top of the jar. Your activation batch may be too vinegary to drink but it's great for use in recipes!
  13. Retain the SCOBY to use in the next batch. Continue following the instructions included with your SCOBY for making the next batch of kombucha tea.

Choosing a Culturing Location

An ideal culturing spot should be relatively warm, between 70-80ºF is ideal, but temperatures between 68-85ºF should be fine for culturing.

Culture the kombucha away from garbage or compost bins, bread made with commercial yeast, or any other cultured foods, to avoid cross contamination.

Avoid disturbing the kombucha as it ferments. Vibration from appliances, opening and closing doors, drafts from heat or a/c vents, or other movements can interrupt the formation of a baby SCOBY.

Signs the Rehydration Process is Complete

Allow the scoby to rehydrate for the full 30 days.

The best way to check the progress of a batch of kombucha is to test aroma and flavor. Finished kombucha should taste rich and vinegary. You may or may not notice some other signs of culturing:

    • The dehydrated SCOBY has thickened slightly.
    • Brown stringy yeast particles or sediment has formed in the liquid, attached to the SCOBY, or settled at the bottom of the jar.
    • A haze or new baby SCOBY has formed on the top of the liquid.
    • The liquid has lightened in color and becomes cloudy.

Kombucha SCOBY Activation Troubleshooting

If you suspect there is a problem with your kombucha, consult our article on Kombucha SCOBY Activation Troubleshooting or contact us before discarding anything. Most cultures can be saved with minor adjustments.

Making You First Batch of Kombucha Tea

Once your kombucha SCOBY has finished rehydrating it is time to make your first batch of kombucha tea. You may consume the kombucha from the rehydration batch, though it may be quite vinegary. Please follow the instructions included with your kombucha tea starter culture to make the next batch of kombucha.

For additional information on kombucha tea starter cultures or any of our other products, contact us today via Live Chat, e-mail, or phone.