Does SCOBY taste good?

What is SCOBY?

SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s used to brew kombucha, a fermented tea drink. The SCOBY looks like a thick, rubbery pancake that floats at the top of the kombucha as it ferments. It’s also sometimes referred to as the “mother” or a kombucha mushroom.

The SCOBY is a living colony of bacteria and yeast that digests the sugar in the tea, producing carbon dioxide gas bubbles and trace amounts of alcohol. The yeast in the SCOBY gives kombucha its vinegar-like tanginess. As the SCOBY ferments the tea, it produces a cellulose membrane that forms the pancake-like disc. New layers continue to grow on top of old ones as the kombucha brews.

Is the SCOBY edible?

The short answer is yes, the SCOBY is edible. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good.

The SCOBY is made up of live bacteria and yeast cultures in a cellulose membrane. So eating it gives you a huge dose of probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that are great for your gut health.

Some people claim regularly eating a small piece of SCOBY gives their digestion and immunity a boost. The bacteria in the SCOBY can help repopulate your gastrointestinal tract with healthy microorganisms.

However, the SCOBY doesn’t have much flavor on its own. It’s mostly just the tangy taste of the bacteria and yeast. The cellulose membrane itself is flavorless.

Overall, the consensus seems to be that SCOBY doesn’t have an objectively good or bad taste, but it’s not something you would eat just for the flavor. The texture is soft and rubbery. The dominant taste is sour and acidic from the bacteria. Some describe it as vinegar-like. Others say it tastes mildly sweet.

So while the SCOBY is technically edible, most people don’t consume it for the taste experience. Those who do eat it are mostly focused on potential gut health benefits, not its flavor.

Does brewed kombucha taste good?

Unlike the SCOBY mother, most people agree that brewed kombucha tastes good. Once the tea has fermented and absorbed flavors from the SCOBY, it develops a slightly sweet, tangy, effervescent taste.

The flavor profile of kombucha varies quite a bit based on the type of tea used, any extra flavorings added, and the length of fermentation. Most commercial kombuchas are flavored with fruit juice or herbs to make the sour taste more palatable.

People enjoy drinking kombucha for reasons like:

  • The light, fizzy mouthfeel
  • The sweet-and-sour flavor
  • The refreshing acidity similar to lemonade or apple cider vinegar
  • The benefits of probiotics for digestion and immunity
  • The caffeine boost from tea (unless decaffeinated)
  • The low sugar and calorie count compared to soda

The tart, acidic taste of kombucha isn’t for everyone. But many people acquire a taste for it and come to crave the unique flavor. It’s often described as an acquired taste. Those who dislike the sourness often prefer flavored kombuchas with more sweetness added.

Overall, consensus is that brewed kombucha has a pleasantly sweet-tart flavor when flavored well. The SCOBY itself is edible but tastes primarily sour and doesn’t have an objectively good flavor.

What are the health benefits of consuming SCOBY or kombucha?

Here are some of the main health benefits attributed to consuming SCOBY or kombucha:


SCOBY and the kombucha it’s used to brew contain live populations of bacteria and yeast. The most common strains are Gluconacetobacter, Acetobacter, and Lactobacillus. Consuming them can help populate your gut with healthy probiotic microorganisms. This is the main reason some people consume the SCOBY itself.

Digestion and gut health

The probiotics in kombucha support digestion by maintaining the balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome. The organic acids created during fermentation also stimulate gastric acid secretion, which improves digestion. Studies suggest kombucha may help treat constipation, IBS, and other digestive issues.


The glucaric acid in kombucha is thought to help the liver detoxify. Kombucha also contains antioxidants that may help the body rid itself of toxins.


The probiotics in kombucha may strengthen your immune system defenses. Consuming probiotics helps maintain a healthy gut microbiota, which is linked to improved immune function.

Antibacterial properties

Studies indicate the organic acids and antioxidants produced by kombucha SCOBY may have antibacterial effects against some pathogenic bacteria. This contributes to kombucha’s overall immune-boosting abilities.

Cancer prevention

The antioxidant content of kombucha is thought to help fight free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to cells. Cell studies found kombucha has anti-carcinogenic properties, especially regarding prostate, breast, and liver cancer cells.

Diabetes management

Some animal studies indicate kombucha may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve liver and kidney function in diabetic rats. However, research is preliminary and more human studies are needed.

Heart health

Some research points to antioxidants in kombucha improving LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, which benefit heart health. But evidence is limited and larger human studies are needed.

Joint health

The glucosamines in kombucha may help rebuild cartilage and boost joint health by improving the lubrication around joints. But more studies confirming benefits for arthritis and joint pain are needed.

Does kombucha have side effects?

Most people can safely consume kombucha in moderation. However, there are some potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Digestive issues – Too much kombucha at once may disrupt digestion and cause bloating, cramps, or diarrhea. This can be caused by the acids and probiotics.
  • Allergic reaction – Some people may be allergic to the yeast, bacteria, or fungi in the SCOBY.
  • High caffeine content – Caffeinated kombucha can cause anxiety, insomnia, and heart issues in sensitive people.
  • Alcohol content – Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol from the fermentation process, which could be a problem for those avoiding it.
  • Contamination – Improperly brewed kombucha may become contaminated and cause illness, especially if the pH isn’t acidic enough.
  • Medication interactions – Kombucha may interact negatively with some medications like chemotherapy, immunosuppressants, and others.

Pregnant or nursing mothers are advised to avoid consuming kombucha, as are people with compromised immune systems or serious medical conditions. Always start with a small serving size to see how your body reacts. Stop consuming it if you experience any negative side effects.

How to incorporate SCOBY or kombucha into recipes

Here are some ways you can use SCOBY or kombucha to add probiotics and a tangy flavor boost to food and drink recipes:


Add kombucha instead of fruit juice or yogurt for tang and probiotics. Start with a ratio of 1 part kombucha to 2 parts fruit and veggies. You can also blend a small piece of SCOBY into smoothies.

Sauces and dressings

Use kombucha vinegar as the acidic component instead of regular vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, and mayo. Add just a splash of SCOBY vinegar for a probiotic boost.


Use kombucha or SCOBY instead of vinegar when making pickled veggies. Add some of the SCOBY to make the vegetables naturally probiotic.


Stir kombucha into fruit-based desserts like vegan pudding, mousse, or sherbet. The tang balances sweetness. Or make kombucha cocktails by mixing with juice and ginger beer over ice.

Soda replacement

Substitute plain or flavored kombucha for unhealthy sodas. The effervescence and sweet-sour taste helps satisfy cravings for fizzy drinks.

Sauerkraut and kimchi

Use kombucha or kombucha starter culture instead of whey for the liquid when making fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi. This makes them probiotic-rich.


Mix a bit of kombucha into yogurt for a tangy flavor and probiotic boost. You can also use kombucha to culture vegan coconut or almond “yogurt.”


The SCOBY “mother” used to brew kombucha isn’t known for having a great taste. It’s edible but extremely sour and acidic tasting, with a gummy, rubbery texture. Most people consume it purely for the probiotic content, not the flavor.

However, the tangy-sweet brewed kombucha tea made from SCOBY has a pleasantly refreshing taste when done well, especially when blended with fruit juice or herbs. Flavored kombucha has gained popularity as a probiotic drink with an appealing vinegary, tart flavor.

Research indicates SCOBY and kombucha offer a range of potential wellness benefits, largely due to the live active cultures. But there are some side effects to be aware of, mainly digestive issues. Kombucha likely poses more risks for people with compromised immunity or certain health conditions.

When consumed in moderation by most people, SCOBY and kombucha are considered safe ways to potentially improve gut health, digestion, immunity, and more. You can add them to recipes like smoothies, salad dressings, pickled veggies, or kombucha cocktails. The benefits and uses make the sometimes strange-looking SCOBY worth embracing.

Pros of consuming SCOBY Cons of consuming SCOBY
  • Source of probiotics for gut health
  • May improve digestion and immunity
  • Contains antioxidants that may help detoxify
  • Some claim it has anti-cancer properties
  • No appealing flavor and odd gummy texture
  • Potential for digestive issues if over-consumed
  • May interact negatively with some medications
  • Safety not established for pregnant women or those with medical conditions

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