Best Places to Buy a Kombucha SCOBY
Are you looking to set up your own kombucha brewing system? Check out our guide for the best sources of SCOBYs and brewing kits.
Are you on the point of getting yourself a kombucha SCOBY and/or starter kit? Congratulations, it’s a smart move! If you are a regular kombucha drinker, then making your own be a big saving. Have a look at How to Save $1000 a Year on Kombucha to check out the numbers. Besides being a great way to save some cash, making your own kombucha is a lot of fun.
You will be able to experiment with brewing and flavoring, and if you are making reasonable sized batches, there will always be enough to give away a few bottles to friends and family. And did you know that making your own kombucha only requires roughly 45 minutes per week in the kitchen?
But enough brewing enthusiasm, to get going with all this you will first need a SCOBY and/or starter kit.
Reasons Why You Need a Starter Kit / Purchased SCOBY
Buying a SCOBY from a reputable source, or a whole starter kit, has quite a few advantages. One of the reasons is that growing SCOBYs from bottled kombucha is not so easy any more. The other is that if you buy a SCOBY which comes from a place where the brewers know what they are doing, then its microbial makeup will be in balance and it will not have been cross pollinated with another ferment accidentally.
If of course you have a friend who makes kombucha, and they are gifting you a SCOBY – that is great! Ten to one, it is of a good quality and in a balanced microbial state. If it flunks out on you, then you can always purchase one.
It is Difficult to Get Baby SCOBYs from Store Bought Kombucha
In previous times kombucha SCOBYs could often be ‘grown’ from a bottle of bought kombucha. However this does not always work, because often the kombucha you find in the shop is pasteurized which means that no SCOBY will grow. There are brands out there which do make raw kombucha – for a comprehensive list, check out Best Kombucha Brands: Our Guide to the Best Tasting Store Bought Kombucha. These kinds of raw, high quality kombuchas will probably produce baby SCOBY layers if left to stand for long enough.
These brands however are not always so easy to find. In addition, you will also need to use a kombucha which is ‘flavorless’ or in other words is plain, without additional flavoring. Some brands do not make a ‘plain’ flavor.
Bought SCOBYs are Usually of Good Quality
When getting a mother SCOBY to start your kombucha brewing adventures with, you want one with the right balance of microbes, and with good vitality. If you buy a SCOBY from a reputable source, then you can be almost guaranteed that it comes from good stock. Places which have been brewing kombucha for years, and selling SCOBYs for almost as long will have worked out any bad genetics in their cultures. Also, they will have developed a cultures which makes good tasting kombucha. Otherwise they would not be in business!
Good Places to Buy SCOBYs and Kombucha Kits
As a first time (and hopefully last if your SCOBY is good quality) SCOBY buyer, it can be a little confusing to choose from where to buy your cultures. There are a lot of places online which sell cultures and startup kits. The below is a list of some of our favorite sellers of kombucha SCOBYs and starter kits. Before we jump in, let’s just touch first on whether one should buy a kit, or just a SCOBY.
Should I Buy a Starter Kit or Just a SCOBY?
If you buy a plain SCOBY, then you will get just that – a packaged SCOBY. It will usually come with a bit of starter liquid.
Starter kits comprise of not just the SCOBY, but the other essentials needed for kombucha making, such as the brewing vessel and cloth covering.
Whether you want a SCOBY or a starter kit is really up to you and your individual needs. If you have a lot of jars at home then perhaps just go for buying the SCOBY. You can always purchase anything extra online at amazon or locally at stores. Check out our post Best Equipment For Brewing Kombucha for a detailed list of all the things involved in making kombucha.
If however you have a very streamlined household which doesn’t have cupboards and cupboards of old glass jars, then perhaps you want to just buy the kit and be done with it. If you are looking at getting a continuous brewing system, then it might serve you well to buy it in conjunction with the SCOBY as a starter kit. You might find that it comes out cheaper this way.
So, give it some thought and see what is available!
Recommended SCOBY and Starter Kit Sources
The below SCOBY and starter kit outlets are well known and have been carrying out their brewing operations for quite awhile. Their founders are considering to be kombucha fundees, and the cultures which they sell are of good quality.
Hannah Crum from Kombucha Kamp definitely knows what she is talking about when it comes to making kombucha! In fact, I would not be surprised if she knows what she is talking about generally. Any SCOBY which you buy from her is definitely going to good quality, and comes with a generous amount of starter liquid. You can also purchases kits and continuous brewing systems from her.
Hannah is very particular about how SCOBYs should be sold and how they shouldn’t be sold, for example no dehydration! So if you are buying from her you can relax and know you are in good hands.
This company is, as the name explains, based in Brooklyn. Founded and run by a husband and wife duo, it has built up a reputation as a well known and trusted kombucha brand. All of their products are of high quality, and their SCOBYs and kits are no exception. Their SCOBYs are grown in a climate controlled culture lab, so we can assume that a lot of knowledge surrounds their development. Definitely no microbes in there that do not belong!
The Kombucha Shop
The Kombucha Shop is located in the midwest, and via their website, sells cultures, kits and supplies. They use organic ingredients in their kombucha brewing and culture growing. They also have a few nice kombucha recipes on their site, so check them out. : )
Speaking of organic, this brings us to the next source on the list, Organic Cultures. The good people there have been more than 10 years sourcing the best organic cultures for not only kombucha, but other ferments like kefir and yoghurt as well. And if this is not enough, they have a 100% guaranteed replacement policy, and implement careful shipping to make sure that the culture is in perfect condition when you get it.
Wells of Health (Etsy)
Wells of Health has been selling organic kombucha cultures through Etsy for over 9 years. Their customer service is excellent, and so is their SCOBY quality. Based in Northern California, they ship all over the United States. They can also provided warm weather brewing instructions to you if you also live in a warm climate.
The Happy Herbalist was the first online retailer to start shipping SCOBYs, over 20 years ago! They offer a few different starter cultures on their website, which have been adapted to different teas.
What to Look for in Purchased Cultures
The above are few reputable sources for good quality cultures and starter kits. There are however a number of places, whether online or ‘in-store’ which will sell you SCOBYs and or starter kits. Many of these will supply good quality cultures, and should by no means be ruled out when buying SCOBYs and starter kits.To make sure that you are getting a viable and good culture for your money, here are a couple checkpoints to watch for.
It is best to buy a SCOBY which is live. Frozen and dehydrated cultures often develop problems when resuscitated. They can become moldy, or merely decrease in vitality. While it is possible to revive a culture from these states, it is much simpler to merely buy a live one.
When buying a culture, check to make sure that it comes with enough starter liquid. You will use the starter liquid to drop the ph of your first batch of kombucha. While it is possible to use spirit vinegar for this purpose – any company or individual which is trying to sell you a SCOBY with very little starter liquid might not know what they are talking about when it comes to kombucha brewing. The quality of their cultures could then also be questioned!
Freshness of Cultures
When purchasing a culture, you are perfectly within your rights to ask how old it is. Places which specialize in selling good quality SCOBYs and starter kits often ensure that the cultures sent to customers are not older then a couple of weeks.
Kombucha cultures can live for years, however this is due to the fact that they are usually constantly forming new layers on top. It is a good brewing practice to discard the older layers underneath, as these are comprised of a large amount of dead matter.
Older cultures will often have less vitality and brewing power, and take longer to rejuvenate. You are most probably excited to get brewing, and if you are spending money on a culture, then you probably would rather get one that you do not have to nurse back to health!
The quality of your kombucha relies largely on strength of your culture. If you buy a quality culture, you can brew from this colony of microbes for years to come. Of course ingredients play a role as well. If you want to know more about what ingredients to choose to brew some of the finest kombucha, take a look at our post Best Kombucha Supplies.
On another note, if you purchase a good SCOBY from a place like the ones mentioned above, they will most likely help you with any problems or questions you might have. It’s nice to buy from people who care!
Of course if you are having trouble and want some advice, we are always happy to help you out in the comments.
Good luck with buying your SCOBY baby. : )