What Is a SCOBY and What Does It Have to Do With Kombucha

What’s a SCOBY, and why is it so important? Without the all-mighty SCOBY, you wouldn’t have your favorite kombucha. SCOBY is an acronym that stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s that mixture of bacteria and yeast that lives atop your favorite booch batch, and without it, you’d just be looking at a jar of plain old sweet tea. Each brewer uses a specific combination of yeast and bacteria, which is what makes each kombucha different from the next

SCOBY Basics

The SCOBY is formed when the right mix of yeast and good bacteria combine. Traditional kombucha is made with sweetened green or black tea. 

The yeast eats the sugar in the sweet tea making a small amount of alcohol. The bacteria then metabolize the alcohol and convert it into acetic acid which gives kombucha its distinctive tartness. The acetic acid bacteria produce a layer of cellulose that floats to the top of the fermentation forming what is known as the SCOBY. In other words, without the SCOBY, there’d be no booch. 

The SCOBY at Flying Embers

Our hard kombuchas start with premium black tea, which we steep with an adaptogen root blend of ginger, turmeric, and ginseng. The process is similar to how brewers steep grain -- its old school brewing techniques with a modern, botanical twist. 

Next, we add organic cane sugar to the fermentation process. Other guys may add honey to the mix, which isn’t vegan-friendly and can even produce some funky flavors. We choose to use organic cane sugar because it's the cleanest source for fermentation. This is where our authentic kombucha SCOBY comes into play, and the fermentation magic really begins.

Like some other kombuchas, we use several strains of acetobacter bacteria, lactobacillus. Once the SCOBY has finished fermenting, we add champagne yeast (fancy, we know). This second round of fermentation is the reason why our hard kombuchas are naturally higher in alcohol than standard booze-free booches, and have zero sugar to kill your vibe. 

The cherry on top is our organic plant and botanical extracts, which help us create better tasting, more unique flavors. We’ve put a lot of time and soul into perfecting our formula, so that our hard kombuchas are everything you could ever want and need during happy hour.

Break out the good table linens and your finest cocktail glasses.

A Kombucha History Lesson

Kombucha dates all the way back to around 220 B.C. Often referred to as a functional beverage, many people claim kombucha has benefits and acts as more than just a thirst quencher.  With nicknames like “the elixir of life” or “tea of immortality,” it’s understandable to see why.  

A Korean doctor named Dr. Kombu brought the fermented tea to Japan to serve Emperor Inkyo. Eventually, that tea made its way to Europe in the 20th century.  Even though production took a dip when supplies were short around WWII, it became popular again in the 1960s (hence why it was once considered a hippy drink.)

You may also see kombucha referred to as “mystic” or “magical mushroom tea,” but there are no mushrooms actually involved. You can credit the SCOBY for this misnomer, as the shape of one often resembles a mushroom floating on top of the tea.  

It’s Alive!

The live cultures in kombucha are what make it unique. Its probiotic contents vary from brand to brand, but here at Flying Embers, we take extraordinary care to make sure our probiotics stay alive until the end of the beverages’ shelf life—so much so that we have it third-party verified. 

Our Kombucha contains natural bacteria as well as the good, probiotic, bloat-banishing kind.

Is All Kombucha Alcoholic?

Technically, no. The process of fermentation does create small amounts of alcohol, but standard kombucha is not considered an alcoholic beverage. Regular kombucha contains less than 0.5% ABV and is safe for consumption by minors.  

Flying Embers Hard Kombucha is created with a higher alcohol content for all you 21+ plant people. In fact, our High ABV range sits at around 7.2-8.5%— more than your average bottle of beer. We disagree with whoever says less is more. We pack as much fun, flavor, and benefits as we can into each and every can. And lucky for you, we’re willing to share.

While some companies simply mix their traditional kombucha with beer or other alcoholic beverages, we get more mad scientist than that. We use authentic SCOBY, champagne yeast, and premium ingredients to get the job done. This fermentation is au naturel, baby.

Next time you’re looking for a light, buzzy beverage, consider our Topical Hops 12 pack.  These three exotic flavors bring the tropical paradise to you. We’ve crafted three one-of-a-kind flavors for this multipack:  

Like all of our brews, this adventurous variety pack is USDA Certified Organic, and is sugar-free, carb-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. 

How Long Does Kombucha Fermentation Take?

Our kombucha actually goes through two rounds of fermentation, because we’re overachievers. The first round can take anywhere from a week to upwards of a month. We ferment our hard kombuchas between 18 and 30 days at 30 degrees Celsius -- it’s both a science and an art.

First we ferment with the SCOBY which multiplies the bacteria and creates the acids that give booch its signature tang.

Next, we add more organic cane sugar and champagne yeast, increasing the alcohol content. The gasses released create those tiny, buzzy bubbles that are so delicious. We let this fermentation run until there is no sugar left in the liquid. 

 Lastly, we add juicy fruits and plant botanicals to create our feel-good flavor combos. 

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but don’t sweat it. No need to make your own when you have us.

It’s All About the SCOBY

While each kombucha brewer may have its own unique SCOBY and flavors, the process remains similar. Just like the original fermented tea dating back thousands of years, the process takes time—but while you wait, you can try out one of our hard seltzers.  

So why is a SCOBY important you ask? It lays the groundwork for all of our distinct and satisfying flavors, all guaranteed to refresh and uplift you. 

 

Sources: 

Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future... | Forbes

Kombucha FAQ | Kombucha Brewers International

Probiotics | ISAPP

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