What is a SCOBY Made Of, and What Are Its Benefits?

A SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, is the fermentation starter that kicks off kombucha fermentation. The SCOBY is made up of lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and yeast. It serves an essential role in creating the delicious flavors and nutritional advantages of your favorite kombucha beverages.

What is a SCOBY Made Of? Breaking It Down

We can start answering the question of what a SCOBY is made of by taking a look at the acronym to begin exploring the essential ingredients in the SCOBY. 

Symbiotic: An interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. A symbiotic relationship generally means that both types of organisms work together in harmony, providing benefits for both. The symbiotic ingredients in the SCOBY are carefully chosen for their positive association and the fact that they will build on one another to create the desired reaction: in this case, the fermentation process and its benefits. 

Culture: The growth of microorganisms (in the case of kombucha, microorganisms include yeast and bacteria) in a specific medium. In the case of a SCOBY, the culture is the base set of microorganisms that are placed in the kombucha mixture. A kombucha culture is essential for ensuring the healthy growth of microorganisms in the product. 

Bacteria: Kombucha relies on a combination of healthy bacteria specifically chosen to aid in the fermentation process. The bacteria found in kombucha typically includes Lactobacillus nagelii, Gluconace tobacter, Gluconobacter, and Komagataeibacter, but many others can be present These probiotics can help offer a number of potential health advantages, including improving overall gut health in people who drink kombucha regularly. 

Yeast: The final essential ingredient in a kombucha SCOBY is yeast: the fermenting ingredient that helps break down the sugars included in the kombucha mixture. The yeast in kombucha can help build overall gut health.

Related: Kombucha Brewing: How is Kombucha Made?

When kombucha is brewed, it begins with tea leaves and water, just like you brew tea at home. Add the right amount of sugar, bacteria and yeast, and leave the culture in a just-right environment. Voila! Fermentation begins.

What Does a SCOBY Look Like?

If you look into any raw kombucha bottle, you'll likely find "bits of stuff" floating in it. These bits are small amounts of the SCOBY, and they indicate that your kombucha is alive with active cultures. It's perfectly safe to drink and is one of the unique characteristics of kombucha.

During fermentation, the SCOBY is a bit more obvious. As the fermentation process progresses, the SCOBY forms into a thick, rubbery, jelly-like and cloudy mass that smells like vinegar. It may look and smell strange, but it's actually a good sign that the kombucha is fermenting exactly the way it should.

What Does a SCOBY Do?

As you consider, "What is a SCOBY made of?" you may, at first, wonder if that particular combination of ingredients will actually offer enough benefits to be worth it. However, as you learn more about the ingredients in a SCOBY and what it does, you will find that it offers a number of advantages to the kombucha you love as well as creating some gut-healthy perks that will keep you coming back to this delicious beverage.

The bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY work to break down the sugars in the tea base of the kombucha. Then, they convert them to alcohol, carbon dioxide, and acids. This process gives kombucha its tangy, fizzy taste. 

The rubbery, mushroom cap-looking SCOBY is removed before kombucha is bottled and consumed, but traces still remain in the bottle. Interestingly, a SCOBY can be reused as a starter for the next batch of kombucha. It continues to grow with each new batch of kombucha and can be safely divided to share the love.

What are the Benefits of a SCOBY for Drinkers?

You've decided that kombucha's tangy taste is a great addition to your regular diet. It's lower in sugar than soda, and hey, it offers some health benefits, too, right? The SCOBY present in kombucha is a critical part of many of those healthy benefits. 

Related: Are Fermented Foods and Beverages All They're Cracked Up to Be?

While the tea base of kombucha does have its own benefits, the SCOBY helps bring in the bacteria and fermentation factor that can help increase those benefits and make kombucha the fan-favorite beverage it is. Let’s look at a few of the benefits.

1. A SCOBY can help improve gut health.

Having healthy bacteria in your gut is an essential part of your overall health and wellness. Studies find that having a diverse microbiome comprised of healthy bacteria can help the body process important nutrients and decrease the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Maintaining gut health can make a  huge difference in your ability to fight off disease, maintain your immune system, and more. 

The bacteria and yeast present in the SCOBY in your kombucha can go a long way toward improving that gut health and creating a diverse microbiome. As you note improving gut health, you may find that it's easier to lose weight, maintain healthy blood sugar, or avoid illness. 

Many of the common activities of daily life, including a high-sugar diet, drinking alcohol on a regular basis, and even taking antibiotics can interfere with the gut microbiome under normal circumstances. Drinking kombucha, on the other hand, can make it easier for you to maintain your gut health even during periods of high stress or illness, which can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome. 

2. The ingredients in a SCOBY can help fight off bad bacteria. 

Having good bacteria like those found in a SCOBY can make a big difference when it comes to fighting off the bad bacteria that can cause negative health impacts. It's not just about maintaining a healthy immune system—fighting off bad bacteria can also help you:

  • Fight off bad breath
  • Decrease your risk of obesity
  • Protect against diabetes
  • Avoid weakened bones/osteoporosis
  • Protect against kidney stones
  • Help avoid vitamin deficiencies
  • Improve absorption of the nutrients in your food

The healthy bacteria present in a SCOBY can help prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body. While it may not eliminate the risk of those potential health challenges, it may help reduce them. Overall, regularly consuming kombucha as part of an overall healthy diet can help fight the challenges presented by bad bacteria.

3. A SCOBY contains antioxidants. 

Your kombucha blend may contain antioxidants, which have been linked to a number of potential health benefits. Antioxidants are, effectively, substances in some foods that can help reduce free radical damage in the body. Antioxidants are typically found in fruits and vegetables but can also be found in a number of teas.

Consuming antioxidants on a regular basis may help lower the risk of developing many types of cancer. Antioxidants help protect against cellular damage, which can decrease the risk that they will grow cancerous over time.

Antioxidants can also help protect against cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of a heart attack. They may help prevent cholesterol molecules in the blood from becoming plaques, which may interfere with the flow of blood through the body and create a number of health challenges. With regular antioxidant consumption, many people find that they can slow those processes and increase their overall health.

These antioxidants may depend in part on the type of tea used to brew your kombucha. Many types of tea, including black and green teas, have antioxidants that can help fight aging and improve health outcomes.

Check Out Kombucha to Explore the Benefits of SCOBY for Yourself

The SCOBY in your kombucha is the essential ingredient that makes kombucha what it is: a fantastic fermented beverage with a great flavor and potential benefits for your health, immune system, and more. Discovering what a SCOBY is made of and how it impacts both the kombucha process and your body when you drink it can help you appreciate it’s potential.At Brew Dr, we combine only the best ingredients to make an organic, raw, and delicious beverage that will make your gut microbiome do a happy dance. Contact us today to learn more about our products and find your favorite flavor.

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