A scoby, the first and most important ingredient of kombucha, creates the fermentation process of the tea. Scoby is an acronym for "symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast," and it looks like a multilayered pancake. Otto explains, "We don't know specifically how the scoby began. In order to start a batch of kombucha, you need one of these. Similar to a sourdough starter, the scobys get passed down. You can't just buy tea and make Kombucha. I think it's an incredible connection to community."
The scoby feeds off of the sugar and the nutrients in the tea and releases carbon dioxide gas, beneficial bacteria, organic acids, and active enzymes, forming kombucha. The scoby is often referred to as the mother, and each week, the scoby grows a new layer on the top called the baby. The growth of a baby is a sign that the scoby is healthy, alive, and active. Eventually the layers can be pulled apart to create new scobys.