Organic kombucha culture is often referred to as kombucha mushroom culture. This is because of its rubbery-white or beige colored, pancake-like appearance. It is also called 'scoby'. No, we are not talking about 'Scooby Doo' here, it is actually the acronym for 'symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast'.
This culture is used to ferment sweetened tea, that is then consumed as a health beverage around the world. This kombucha culture has been a part of ancient Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and European cultures. It is touted and consumed across the globe for its plethora of health benefits.
A combination of symbiotic bacteria and yeast, it has been handed down over generations between families and friends. When added to sweetened tea, it starts utilizing the sugar within the tea. This causes the tea to ferment and develop a tangy, sour flavor. It is allowed to ferment till the desired taste is achieved and then consumed.
Often people wonder that if this culture contains yeast, then can it produce alcohol? The yeast in this culture produces alcohol, that is converted into organic acids by the bacteria. So, the end product only contains 1% by volume alcohol. With every brew, a thin layer of kombucha mushroom culture or scoby is formed. This thin layer can be left as it is and thickened to form a leathery, pancake-like mass. This mass can be split into two by hand itself. You can use half of the culture to make more culture and save the other dormant half, just in case the first batch gets spoilt by fungus.
The culture can get contaminated and cause it to become moldy. Normally, the culture organism does not allow any other organism to grow alongside. If at all, contamination does occur, you have no option but to throw it away. You can avoid contamination by using clean hands while handling the mother culture. Keep the culture covered with a piece of cloth while it is being fermented to keep fungal spores, flies, and other contaminating agents away.
How to Make it
The recipe generally consists of adding the culture into a mixture of brewed, sweetened black tea. You can get the culture from bottles available in stores and even online. You just need to add some of the culture to tea like black tea, green tea, oolong tea, or white tea.
Add organic cane sugar or refined sugar to the brew and white vinegar or brewed kombucha tea. This helps in adding the acidic environment for the culture to grow. With time, the culture will grow into a mushroom-like structure. You can keep separating the culture layers, and use the bottom layer for making a new batch of organic cultures.
However, before you start drinking kombucha tea, speak to your health care provider.