In this workshop we will be making Scoby from Kombucha tea. If this is all foreign to you, here are some answers:
The tea fungus ‘Kombucha’ is a symbiosis of Acetobacter (a bacteria that can oxidase of ethanol to acetic acid during fermentation) and yeast. Many people around the world drink the fermented tea for its health benefits (yes fermented food is really healthy for you, but note there is a difference between fermented and rancid).
However there is a drive towards biomaterials at the moment: materials that are either synthesized naturally or inspired by nature; we all know the impact that man-made material is having on the planet. So we will not be making the tea for health benefits, although you are welcome to drink it, but to create the thick layer of biomaterial or scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) that forms on the top of this tea. The scoby creates a leatherlike substance once dried and this has been used in various fashion experiments and has helped us develop theories and techniques for future explorations into biomaterials.
During this workshop we will create the foundation so you can create your own scoby from where you can grow it to any size you want. (it grows to the size of the container that you put it in.)
Things to remember:
- When working with biological material, always keep it very sanitary. Clean your equipment with alcohol, hot water or iodine. Soap and detergents might kill your specimen. Dirt will leave with you contaminated, smelly and unsuccessful projects
- Biology takes time, so be patient. The longer you wait, the greater the reward. But you do need to take care of the specimen along the way. Keep it clean, keep the temperature and light for optimum growing conditions and keep an eye on it.
- If things do get contaminated, bleach kills just about anything and you should discard your specimen in bleach.
What you need to bring:
- 1/2- 1 c. kombucha tea ( you can bring store-bought kombucha, but try for the organic, raw variety, any additives can harm your bacteria. )
- 2-3 teabags: green, or black caffeinated teas work best
- 3-4 tablespoons of White sugar (this is the food of the bacteria so the more sugar you add, the more it will have to eat.)
- 2 cups of spring water
- 50ml white or apple cider vinegar
- A clean container that has not been washed with detergent. The scoby will take on the shape of the container, so if you want to be creative…
- A clean breathable cloth that we will use to cover the container.
What we will be doing:
- Heat half of the water to boiling
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve. The sugar (glucose) is the food for the Acetobacter to feed on and ferment.
- Add tea bags to the boiling water with sugar. Herbal or Earl Grey tea are not recommended!
- Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Remove teabags and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.
- Pour the room temperature tea into clean container. Add remaining spring water. Cover and cool to room temperature.
- Add vinegar, Kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) and reserve kombucha starter to your tea. Use gloves or wash clean hands to touch scoby.
- Cover with breathable clean cloth. Secure with a rubber band or tape to keep fruit flies from invading.
- Allow to sit undisturbed for at least 7 days, or until scoby is desired thickness (it takes at least 2 weeks to reach 1/2 “ thickness, which dries to be like thin leather. Thinner scabies once dried can be similar to parchment)
- Adjust the pH using paper strips if desired. Ideal kombucha should have a ph of 3-5.5