Why keep a SCOBY hotel?
- In case your culture gets infested with fruit flies, vinegar eels, or mold
- Having extra to give to friends or family that also want to brew some Kombucha
- You can use them to experiment with different teas and flavors
- You are going on vacation and can’t brew on your regular schedule
Making a SCOBY Hotel is easy!
- Put the SCOBY in the clean container
- Cover with Kombucha Tea
- Hide in the back cupboard (Never keep SCOBYs in the fridge)
NOTE: Some brewers prefer rotating SCOBYs through their batches and Hotel, taking both the starter liquid and a SCOBY from the Hotel for the new batch and returning the previously used SCOBY (and maybe also the new baby) to the Hotel until needed. This creates a dynamic Hotel environment which keeps more cultures vibrant and active while also providing rest periods which may benefit the cultures.
Other brewers prefer to keep one SCOBY going from batch to batch once they have found a balance and flavor they like. Each brewer must find their own rhythm and discover what works best in their environment and with their SCOBYs
Maintaining Your Hotel
Our role as brewers is to maintain balance by nurturing the bacteria and removing excess yeast. This same principle applies to the hotel.
Perform maintenance on your hotel every 2-6 months or when you observe a buildup in yeast to keep your cultures healthy, happy and ready to brew at a moment’s notice.
NOTE: As always, start with a clean space. Wiping down counters with (Kombucha) vinegar water and using clean towels and utensils is a crucial step to prevent contamination.
It is not recommended to rinse the cultures to remove all of the yeast as some yeast is required to obtain carbonation. We simply want to reduce their number to maintain balance.
Yeast are a vital part of the Kombucha fermentation process as they provide carbonation and nutrition for the bacteria (and humans!). They are the brown clumps or strands that hang from the SCOBY and ultimately accumulate on the bottom of the vessel once they’ve completed their life cycle. It is important to remove some of the yeast to prevent the symbiosis from getting out of balance.
- Remove the cultures from the hotel into a separate bowl or vessel. Cover immediately with a cloth or lid to prevent fruit fly contamination.
- Filter the liquid of the hotel through a strainer, sieve or cheesecloth into a clean container. The yeast strands are large and will not pass through the sieve, but there is more than enough yeast in the liquid and SCOBY.
- Now you have potent starter to get new batches going, reserve a portion of this starter liquid to return to the hotel.
- Rinse the hotel jar with hot water to remove all traces of yeast from the bottom and sides of the vessel. If it has been a while, a good scrubbing may be needed.
- Once you have completed SCOBY Thinning & Trimming (see below), place the SCOBYs back into the hotel jar or use a clean jar. Add fresh sweet tea until the jar is about half full, then top off with the potent starter to provide a protective pH and prevent mold. The mix of starter to sweet tea should be about 50/50.
Kombucha loves to GROW! Even in the hotel, a new layer will form across the top. The longer it sits, the thicker the layer. If the SCOBY gets too thick, fresh oxygen cannot reach the liquid below. Thinning or trimming it down to a smaller size will keep the oxygen flowing and prevent stagnation.
- Remove the thick top layer from the vessel.
- First, see if it’s possible to simply pull the layers of SCOBY apart with your hands. If it formed in thin layers, they may peel easily or even rip at times but you cannot hurt the SCOBY this way.
- If you cannot rip it apart, sanitize a pair of scissors or serrated knife with Kombucha vinegar or distilled vinegar.
- Either trim the culture with scissors to reduce the width/thickness or slice the culture in half with the serrated knife, SCOBY flat on the cutting board with hand over the top as knife works horizontally through the thick SCOBY like a bread roll.
- Discard any soft, gelatinous edges or unwelcome bits as needed.