The Many Faces of Kombucha [7 Ways to Up-cycle Cultures]

Behind-the-scenes of brewing a fermented tea. This is the beautiful culture that actually brews the tea. I'm sharing photos of some wild kombucha cultures followed by recipes for what to do with all your space cultures' if you are a home brewer.

Kombucha cultures are the bacteria and yeast containing organisms that give the brew its ferment-transformation, from tea and sugar to fizzy, bubbly tart tea.

Brewing kombucha has been a large part of my life for many years, and I've been capturing the wild, weird and wonderful (small) faces of kombucha cultures for most of them.

All these cultures are healthy. It just shows the span of diversity, but they all have the same goal: grow and ferment!

It doesn't matter what the cultures look like, as long as they don't have green or black fuzzy mold spots on them.

You'll easily spot these spots, looking just like bread mold. You can trust nature to tell you when the batch has gone bad. It will smell horrible, or look horrible (mold spots.)

Cultures form to the shape of the container they are in. They can be huge, or just as small as a mason jar lid.

Holes and strings are normal. Alien terrain, like above, a little more rare.

Strings are just yeast!

a lollipop-shaped culture with yeast strand.......

Because a new culture is created with each batch of kombucha brewed, it is easy to run out of room for storing them and have too many! They work well for composters!

Your soil loves it.

Your farm animals will love it.

Your friends will love if you shared with them, so they can start brewing too.

Pro Insight: Never flush a culture down the toilet and risk clogging your pipes as it grows....


Scoby's come in all shapes and sizes and forms - just like humans.

Most people use new scobys for making extra batches of kombucha. But at some point, you realize that you may need to start doing other things with your spare scobys.

I get many requests for ideas with this, so here it is!

Share! The best way to use up your spare scobys is to help others start their very own kombucha brew. Friends don't let friends attempt to make their own scoby.

Add to Chicken Feed.  Hens will happily slurp up a fresh scoby as a treat - freeze it first and give to your hens on a hot day. Other animals may eat it, but you'd have to experiment! (Not all dogs will!)

Compost. Probably one of the best sources of already-broken-down-bacteria your compost bin has seen in a long time, scobys can be added whole to the compost pile or straight into the gardens' soil.

Add to a Smoothie. Add a piece of scoby to a smoothie or other blended food. Make sure you've got fruit in their to cover up the vinegar-y flavour, otherwise you may be holding your nose!

Make a sourdough Starter. Pretty cool! Using kombucha in place of the water in your homemade sourdough starter. Easy. Find the recipe here.

Make Clothes with It. This is for the future (hippie - ecological) fashionistas. When we realize how unsustainable our consumerism is, we'll turn to YOU, and pay lots of dollars for your fully organic, compostable panties and coats. Thanks to Suzanne Lee for her inspiration.

Make Jerky or Candy. Marinate the scoby in your favorite sauce for 24 hours before drying, if desired, for extra flavor. Lay scobys flat on a piece of unbleached parchment paper and dry at 80°-90°F until they reach the consistency of jerky. Cover with a cloth to keep pests away. Consume as a treat or cut up and add to a salad, trail mix, etc. There are a couple of different ways to make kombucha scoby candy. Choose one that works for you, using your sweetener of choice.

Do you have any more creative ideas on how to use extra scobys? We would love you to comment below or share them in our #fermentingtheOkangan group on Facebook!