Is Kombucha Really a Mushroom?

No, kombucha is not a mushroom! It’s a persistent label, but a kombucha scoby has nothing to do with a mushroom.

The contents of a jar of homemade kombucha can indeed look like a mushroom or a large seaweed.

In fact, a gelatinous pellicle usually floats on the surface of the fermenting kombucha. This pellicle is called the “kombucha scoby”.

Kombucha scoby - not a mushroom!

The kombucha scoby can have different shapes and colours, ranging from creamy white to dark brown, depending on the type of tea used and the age of the scoby. Like a sponge, it absorbs the colour of the ingredients.

However, from a biological point of view, a kombucha scoby is as close to a mushroom as it is to a bird. Therefore, it’s not really comparable!

What is a Kombucha Scoby?

The kombucha scoby is a colony of bacteria and yeast that live in symbiosis. In fact, the acronym SCOBY stands for “Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast“.

The kombucha scoby is what is known as a starter culture, as it allows the fermentation of the kombucha to begin. Without it, sweet tea will remain sweet tea!

Kombucha culture in a jar

The gelatinous pellicle is simply cellulose woven by bacteria on the surface of the liquid to optimise contact with oxygen.

Note: When making homemade kombucha, always use plain kombucha (liquid culture) in addition to the cellulose pellicle. The liquid culture contains the large majority of microorganisms needed for fermentation.

Where Can I Find a Kombucha Scoby?

To make kombucha, you need to use a kombucha scoby.

If you simply leave sweet tea at room temperature, it will certainly ferment, but you have no control over the end result, and it may simply go mouldy!

To turn sweet tea into kombucha, you need to seed the tea with a good source of kombucha culture (a scoby).

If you have friends who make kombucha at home, ask them to give you a kombucha scoby. All they have to do is take some cellulose and plain kombucha. After all, the kombucha scoby grows and duplicates itself almost every time it is fermented!

If you don’t know anyone who makes kombucha, check out our kombucha scobys in our online shop, which are locally and carefully grown from organic ingredients.

Once you have a kombucha scoby, you can reuse it over and over again (or almost!)

Want to know more? Check out “What is a kombucha scoby? And where to find one?

Have fun with your new pet ;)

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Photo credit: Mathieu Dupuis

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