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A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY is a popular term (rather than scientific) used to refer to mixed cultures of bacteria and yeast present during production of kombucha. The term "colony" in the name is a scientific misnomer, because it implies a group of genetically identical or nearly identical organisms living together. For this reason, the acronym is essentially absent in the biomedical literature. 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.


A SCOBY used for brewing kombucha, made up of Acetobacter species of bacteria, and undefined yeast species.[citation needed]

Yeast and bacteria commonly found in SCOBY include:

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.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Outside links[edit]



[1]... available online via public BBC-iplayer to 2099