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A SCOBY used for brewing kombucha

A SCOBY (for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is a mix of cultures of bacteria and yeast present during production of kombucha and water kefir among others.[1] Referring to the cultures as a "colony" is misleading, because the term colony implies a group of genetically identical or nearly identical organisms living together. For this reason, biomedical literature uses the proper name pellicle. The species comprising the mixed cultures vary from preparation to preparation, but generally include Acetobacter bacterial species, as well as various Saccharomyces and other yeast types. SCOBY cultures used in beverage production can produce a structure referred to as a "mushroom," which is also biologically misleading, because mushrooms are a completely unrelated group of fungi. It often forms in vinegar in jars of pickled foods.

Use in food production[edit]

Other foods and beverages which require a similar "symbiotic culture" in their production include:

  • Ginger beer;
  • Kefir, both milk kefir and water kefir (tibicos), whose required cultures differ;
  • Jun; a drink similar to kombucha that grows on honey-sweetened green tea;
  • Vinegar; the production of which requires a mother of vinegar; and
  • Sourdough; derived from a sourdough "starter," flour-water mixture exhibiting growth after advantitious contamination with wild yeasts.

Use in clothing production[edit]

Queensland University of Technology and the State Library of Queensland have been using kombucha SCOBY to produce a workable bio-textile, called a "vegan leather".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fermentation Revival". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Mitchell-Whittington, Amy. "QUT and State Library leading the way in 'vegan leather'". Retrieved 5 August 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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