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A SCOBY used for brewing kombucha.

A SCOBY (or SCOBAY) (for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is a syntrophic mixed culture of yeast and bacteria used in production of several traditional foods and beverages.

Composition and action[edit]

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.

Within a culture, anaerobic ethanol fermentation (by yeast), anaerobic organic acid fermentation (by bacteria), and aerobic ethanol oxidation to acetate (by bacteria) can all take place concurrently along an oxygen gradient.

A gelatinous, cellulose-based biofilm called a pellicle forms at the air-liquid interface and is also sometimes referred to as a "scoby". Either samples of this pellicle or unpasteurized kombucha can be used similarly to mother of vinegar to begin fermentation in pasteurized sweet tea.[1]

A group of Kombucha scobies

Scoby cultures used in beverage production can produce a pancake-sized dish-like structure that looks somewhat like the top of a mushroom, hence its nickname "mushroom". It often forms in vinegar in jars of pickled foods.[2]

Use in food production[edit]

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

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".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fermentation Revival". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Definition of KOMBUCHA". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  3. ^ Mitchell-Whittington, Amy. "QUT and State Library leading the way in 'vegan leather'". Retrieved 5 August 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]