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Save your Mothers: Why You Need a SCOBY Hotel

 SCOBY Hotel, Kombucha Brooklyn

There are a few tantalizing aspects of home brewing kombucha that keep us coming back for more, aside from (obviously) drinking kombucha on the regular. Sure, it's the way it makes us feel - cleanly energized, refreshed, and awakened. It's economical - anyone who began their kombucha regimen with store-bought bottles knows that it's an expensive thing to love ready-to-drink kombucha. It's a healthy beverage, an easy way to dose oneself with probiotics, b-vitamins, amino acids and enzymes - and it can be very low in sugar.


But one of the major facets of home-brewing crusades is simply that it's fun! Brewing kombucha is intellectually stimulating. Just as any scientist hones his work through trial and error and learns as much from failure as from success, we as home brewers are taunted by that 'buch event horizon, the unknown territory beyond the edge of the abyss.

Not to discount the would-be brewers of the classics - but there's always space for that new brew that leaves our taste buds whirling in an ecstasy of confusion, surprise and delight.


Just as any brewer knows, there will always be home runs and strike outs. In kombucha brewing, a failure could potentially lead to the loss of your beloved mother (SCOBY, kombucha culture, mushroom etc.). If you have only maintained one culture throughout your brewing escapades, you're walking on thin ice!


Enter the SCOBY hotel. A comfortable, safe home for the SCOBY on the down-and-out. A cage for potential future meals. A reservoir of dreams for the adventurous brewer. Really, all it has to be is a lidded jar in your refrigerator.


Consider this - each time you harvest your 'buch, you will have grown another SCOBY in your brew jar. As always, you'll use the newest culture for your next brew, and either discard or save the original mother. But what do you do with the mothers you've saved?


Eat them, share them with friends, sure. But you've got an additional use for those mothers. They are your brewer's insurance. Every brewer remembers their first failed batch, causing you to source another SCOBY. But if you've been brewing for any amount of time, you could already have 5 mothers saved up in your hotel, keeping you from having to source another culture.


Another great thing about saving your SCOBYs in a hotel is the experimentation it allows. Have you ever wondered what will happen to a SCOBY in grape juice? Coffee? Beer?


SCOBY on Coffee, Kombucha Brooklyn SCOBY on Coffee

Or what if you want to try out some tantalizing new herb blends that you're not sure will ferment properly. It's always rewarding, even if you fail, to try out something new. Even a few of the blends we've put up on our website, like Buffalo Soldier or Red Chai we were unsure about, at the start. But they turned out to be some of our favorite, out-of-the-box flavors, and both are completely unconventional, as far as 'buch brewing is concerned.


So - are you sitting on a load of thyme, or wild-harvested lilac? Have a bunch of old Earl Grey tea bags you want to get rid of? Or did you devise that ideal, mouth-watering kombucha that you think only has a slight chance of being successful? With the security of a load of backup SCOBYs, comfortable in your refrigerator, a moldy brew or SCOBY that doesn't make a baby will be no matter to you. Dream on, 'buchies! Let's do some exploring.

13 thoughts on “Save your Mothers: Why You Need a SCOBY Hotel”

  • Sarah Rogue


    Regarding the refrigeration vs. shelf hotel. I've had success refrigerating even for long periods, yet I read a lot online of people adamantly against this.

    I read you also have had success refrigerating. Thought... I'm in CT and you are in NYC and I wonder if our cultures are more cold/hibernation tolerant? J

    Just a thought

    • Chris

      Hi Sarah - I've never had an issue with refrigerating SCOBYs; we refrigerate our SCOBYs before shipping and there's no issue with our customers, either. We also ship all winter long!

  • Ted

    For a SCOBY hotel do you cover the SCOBYS with water?

  • Mary

    What if all my buch is flavored? That's not good for storing scobies, right? Can I use some of my buch vinegar or add some sugar to my buch vinegar?

    • Chris

      Hi Mary! Oh the whole, yes - don't store your SCOBYs in flavored 'buch. You can absolutely use 'buch vinegar and a little bit of dissolved sugar!

  • Sierra

    Is it best to cover scoby hotel with cloth and rubberband so it can breathe or cover with sealed lid?

  • Kathy

    I have a Scoby hotel going for a few months out on counter with cloth lid. Do you need to add new sweet tea for it to feed on or just let it sit in the vinegary bucha ?
    Also I read somewhere that if the SCOBY covers the top of the liquid & is thick , you need to cut it smaller so the exchange of oxygen & CO2 can take place ? Is reducing the dize necessary ?
    Thank you...wonderful site !

    • Chris

      Hi Kathy, I would recommend periodically adding some sweet tea, but the SCOBYs are also perfectly safe in the vinegary 'buch. A little sweet tea now and then will keep them vital, and you'll also get a new SCOBY growing on the surface from this practice. The SCOBY is able still to exchange gases even when thick - if you cut a SCOBY, you can see striations which are microtubules that are able to make this exchange possible - so no need to reduce the size. Happy brewing!

  • Debbie

    I have had a Scoby hotel for a couple of years and unfortunately neglected it for awhile and my husband, thinking he was being helpful, put a lid on it instead of the cloth in the cupboard. A bit of mold grew on the top of the jar on a baby Scoby. I removed that one and put the ones on the bottom in a clean jar with fresh tea/sugar combo and they seem fine. Color good, no odor, but I am concerned as to whether they are safe to use? Summer is around the corner and I was looking forward to starting up again and appreciate your advice.

  • Paul

    Do you recommend putting the mother or the baby in the Scoby hotel??

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