There is a lot of terminology to get used to when you first start brewing your own kombucha at home. First ferment (F1), second ferment (F2), starter, burping, kahm yeast, etc.
If you’ve had any interest in kombucha you’ve probably heard of the term SCOBY before. What you might not realize is that it’s actually an acronym.
SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It’s what makes kombucha so special.
But what exactly is a SCOBY mother?
The SCOBY mother is the original SCOBY you have used during your first ferment. Typically, another layer of SCOBY will grow on top of the mother which is commonly referred to as the child. Your first SCOBY is the mother, the new SCOBY is the child. It’s as simple as that!
The mother SCOBY is usually what you use to brew your main kombucha. As they age, the kombucha begins to get stronger and takes on a more mature flavor.
How To Get A Hold Of A Mother SCOBY
If you want to start brewing your own kombucha you will need to find yourself a mother SCOBY. The best way to get one is to ask for a child SCOBY from one of your friends who brew kombucha.
This way, you can grow and develop your own mother SCOBY over time.
If you don’t know anyone who brews kombucha you can either buy one online or you can grow your own.
Just make sure whatever SCOBY you get comes with enough strong starter liquid to kickstart your first brew. The minimum amount I would accept would be 1 cup. Anything less and you run the risk of mold developing on your SCOBY.
How Long Does It Take To Grow A Mother SCOBY?
If you’ve just received a child SCOBY, or have just grown your own, you may be wondering how long it will take before your mother has fully developed.
For me, it took around 4-5 brews until my mother really started producing consistent kombucha.
The first few batches were always hit or miss. I found the kombucha ended up being too sweet, even if I left the brew for a few more days in the first ferment.
After about the 5th brew with the new SCOBY the yeast population began to get stronger and I was able to get a strong, great tasting kombucha every time.
This is also when I started consistently keeping the temperature at 86 degrees using a kombucha heat wrap.
As I use black tea most of the time the mother starts to turn a dark brown. This is another indication that your mother SCOBY is beginning to mature. If you are using lighter teas (such as green or white) you SCOBY mother won’t turn as brown.
Should I Always Separate The Mother SCOBY from the Child?
Once your mother has grown to about 1/2 – 1 inch you will want to start separating the child from the mother.
Some people are afraid that if you remove the child from the mother it will harm the mother SCOBY somehow.
This is just untrue. Separating your SCOBY is actually very easy and is key to keeping up with your SCOBY health. You can read a complete guide on how to separate your mother from child here.
If you’re not separating your mother from child your mother will continue to grow with each brew. Eventually, it will become so thick your kombucha yield will be decreased.
How Long Can You Use A Mother SCOBY?
I’ve been using the same mother SCOBY for almost a year. As long as she continues to produce great kombucha I will continue to use her.
I find as they age the character of the kombucha changes a little.
I have heard people using the same mother SCOBY for over 2 years!
So don’t be afraid of tiring your SCOBY mother out. Once mature, they will continue to produce quality kombucha for as long as you take care of them.
If you want to take a break from brewing kombucha for a few months than just put your mother in the SCOBY hotel with the rest of her children and take her out when you’re ready to start again!
I hope this has answered most of your questions. If you have any other questions please leave them in the comments below.