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SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.[1] The term is often used to refer to cultures of bacteria and yeast present during production of the fermented beverages kefir and kombucha. A SCOBY colony or culture may be referred to as a mushroom.[2]

A SCOBY used for brewing kombucha. It is made up of bacteria of the genus Acetobacter.


Yeast and bacteria commonly found in SCOBY include:[3]

Acetobacter: This is a collection of aerobic (requiring oxygen) bacterial species which produce acetic acid and gluconic acid. It is always found in kombucha. Acetobacter strains also build the scoby mushroom. Acetobacter xylinoides and Acetobacter ketogenum are two strains found in kombucha.

Saccharomyces: This includes a number of yeast strains which produce alcohol, and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha. They can be aerobic or anaerobic (requires an oxygen-free environment). They include Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Saccharomycodes apiculatus, Zygosaccharomyes species, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Schizosaccharomyces pombe: A yeast species commonly called "fission yeast".

Brettanomyces: Another collection of yeast species, either aerobic or anaerobic, commonly found in kombucha and capable of producing alcohol or acetic acid.

Lactobacillus: A type of aerobic bacteria that is sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha. It produces lactic acid and slime.

Pediococcus: These anaerobic bacteria produce lactic acid and slime. They are sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha.

Gluconacetobacter kombuchae is an anaerobic bacteria unique to kombucha. It feeds on nitrogen that is found in tea, and produces acetic acid and gluconic acid as well as building the SCOBY mushroom.

Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis is a yeast strain that is unique to kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the SCOBY mushroom body.

Use in food production[edit]

Foods and beverages which require SCOBY in their production include:

  • Ginger beer plant; a SCOBY used in the fermentation of ginger beer.
  • Kefir; there are two types of kefir SCOBYs, one for making milk kefir and the other for making water kefir or tibicos. The composition of these SCOBYs which may vary.
  • Kombucha; a SCOBY made up of bacteria of the genus Acetobacter and one or more yeasts that thrives in black tea and sugar
  • Jun (drink); a SCOBY similar to kombucha that thrives on green tea and honey.
  • Vinegar; the production of which requires a mother of vinegar.
  • Sourdough; a sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that is left at room temperature for several days and is inoculated with several wild yeasts.

See also[edit]