Introduction: Grow Materials: SCOBY
Kombucha is a sweet tea beverage produced by fermentation. A scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is added to a sweet tea mix and allowed to ferment. Over time, the scoby forms a new culture made up mostly of cellulose, a byproduct of the bacteria G. xylinus. The microbes produce micro-fibers of cellulose that float to the surface of the fermenting liquid and fuse together, forming a gelatinous mat.
The mat can be removed from the liquid, washed and dried for use as a naturally produced bio textile. Once dry it is a leathery, textile-like material that be sewn or used in place of fabric and other soft materials.
1 L Distilled water
90 g White sugar
88 ml Distilled vinegar
1 bag Green tea*
1 piece Kombucha scoby
100 ml Kombucha tea
Step 1: Boil Water
Measure 1 L distilled water, pour into a pot and bring it to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn off the heat.
Step 2: Add Sugar
Measure 90 grams sugar, add to the pot and stir until dissolved.
Step 3: Add Tea
Add 1 bag of green tea, cover the pot and allow tea to steep for 10 min.
Step 4: Cool
After 10 minutes, remove the teabag and allow liquid to sit until cooled below 90° F.
Step 5: Add Vinegar
Once cool, measure 88 mL white distilled vinegar and add to the mixture.
Step 6: Pour Into Container
Pour the liquid into your prepared container* and add 100 mL of existing kombucha tea and 1 piece of a kombucha scoby culture.
Ask a friend for a jar of kombucha tea with a piece of scoby. If you'd prefer to purchase your own, try searching Amazon or Etsy for a Kombucha starter kit. Buy a fresh live culture for best results. (This costs about $5 - $20 + shipping)
Step 7: Cover and Allow to Grow
Cover the container, seal well to prevent fruit flies from entering. Place in a warm, dim place for 2-8 weeks. Let it sit without moving while the new scoby grows.
Step 8: Measure Thickness
When the newly formed scoby is about 1/2 - 1 inch thick, it can be removed from the liquid.
Step 9: Remove and Wash
Take the new scoby out of the container and wash it well with soap and water to remove the excess yeast, sugar and acid. Be gentle but make sure to clean it well for best results drying the material.
Step 10: Drying the Material
Place the clean scoby on a smooth wooden plank to dry, this will take around 2-4 days. The scoby can be dried on other materials, but we’ve had the best results with samples dried on wood. You can experiment - try drying on 3D shapes, fabric, etc.
Step 11: Helpful Tips
Green tea works well - we prefer the light colored tea it produces. White tea, black tea and a variety of caffeinated teas may work as well. Try adding natural sources of color like dried hibiscus flowers, allow to steep and remove with the tea bags. This produce a lightly tinted scoby.
Preparing a container:
Wash a plastic or glass container with soap, rinse well and allow it to dry. With clean hands or while wearing gloves, spray with 70% isopropyl alcohol to sanitize, allow the alcohol to evaporate fully. Use a clean cloth for a cover or similar material that will allow airflow while keeping bugs out, use a band to secure it in place.