Travels with Etheldreda

Etheldreda is my kombucha SCOBY.

SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. A SCOBY (aka mother or mushroom) will transform sweetened tea into kombucha, an effervescent, probiotic and delicious fermented drink. (I’m enjoying a glass as I type!)

My generous friend Cory of Aquarian Bath mailed me a SCOBY last year, from which Etheldreda evolved. She started off very small—Cory packed SCOBY pieces into a one-ounce jar—and grew very quickly once she settled into her new home. In fact, she has grown a little faster than I can manage! I recently split her in two for a second vat of kombucha; I have given several layers of her to friends and students here in California; and my daughter MK now has a few pieces up in Canada at school.

I would love to share Etheldreda with more people and track her progress throughout the US.

Etheldreda 02.24.15
The many layers of Etheldreda

Have you longed to brew kombucha at home but have failed to find a SCOBY? Now may be your chance to snag a virile mother if you live in the US. I will mail small pieces of my SCOBY to three different people here in the States. If that sounds of interest to you, please email me between now and Friday February 27th, 2015 at midnight Pacific time.

I will randomly pick three SCOBY recipients. After I drop the packages off at the post office, I’ll add three new pins to the map to indicate your city (I won’t include your address). If you send me an image of your kombucha or mother (or even just something random), I’ll imbed that into the map too.

Once your SCOBY grows and you have a surplus—believe me you will if all goes well—I hope you’ll share your mother and let me know which cities I can add to the map. If this giveaway goes well, I’ll repeat it later in the year (I want lots of pins!). I think this could be quite a fascinating project. (Do I need to get out more?)

I can mail Etheldreda within the Continental United States only.

I would like to mail her to Canada or overseas but I doubt she would survive the long trip or make it through customs. Imagine the custom’s agent expression if he or she opens my package and pulls out a gelatinous blob of what looks like an other-worldly fungus. The police would probably bust down my door and arrest me for biological terrorism. I already worry the CIA has me on an anarchist watch list because I make my own ketchup. I don’t want to push my luck.

By the way, if you can brew a pot of tea, you can make kombucha. You’ll find my instructions here.

Also, please check out Aquarian Bath for wonderful plastic-free, truly all-natural bath and body products.

28 Replies to “Travels with Etheldreda”

  1. I had my first taste of kombucha a week ago, and it is a fabulous beverage! Reminded me of the fermented sprouted wheat berry drink I used to make years ago. Please put my name in your hat. What a great idea!

    1. Thank you! Isn’t kombucha delicious? That wheat berry drink sounds similar. My Ukrainian boyfriend loves kvass, which I made once with sourdough bread. It’s also similar to kombucha, same idea anyway with a SCOBY. I’ll add you to the list. By the way, I’ve been eating your sourdough pancakes almost every day. They’re delicious!

      1. My mentor in the holistic management program has been making kvass with the beets from our high tunnel. I confess that I haven’t taken time to try it. Another nudge in the right direction that I thank you for! (And thanks for pancake appreciation.)

      2. You’re making me blush 😉 I love beet kvass! I have some in the refrigerator right now. It’s a sour drink. My neighbor told me she’s addicted to it. Your holistic management program sounds intriguing. What’s that all about? Have you blogged about it?

  2. I love your generosity! Not just sharing the know-how of how to ferment but also the means by sharing your ‘mother’. As with me, I suspect the sheer joy of making your own is something that breeds an additional layer of generosity. How could we keep these wonders to ourself!

    Oh, and welcome to the watch list! I feel like a fifth columnist for inciting productive home economics rather than consuming 😉

    1. Thanks, Meg! It is such a joy to make kombucha myself (and bread, sauerkraut, ricotta and so on). I guess I want to share my SCOBY because I’m so thrilled with the results but also to secure my place on that watch list 😉

  3. He he ha ha ha! CIA, ketchup! 🙂 Wait, it might be true…

      1. Michelle says:

        Hello! I came across your website/blog. I want to take Scoby overseas 🙂 how on earth do I do this??

      2. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        Hi Michelle. I have taken them through the TSA to Canada. I put them in a small glass spice jar and put those in a cosmetic bag. I’ve done this at least three times now. If asked, I planned on telling the TSA that they are a face mask :p A friend recently took one of my SCOBYs to Japan and another friend took one to India. So it can be done. I have never tried mailing them. I’m not sure if they would get there. I hope this helps. Happy travels! ~ Anne Marie

      3. Michelle says:

        Ok and with some liquid? That’s what I am thinking might be the concern!
        How about sealing them in ziplock bag with a small amount of liquid and putting in suitcase for cargo?

      4. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        Yes, just a bit of liquid to cover it. I have successfully checked it in my bag in a cosmetic case. Whether you check it or carry it on, just be sure to open it when you land. It might pop a little bit from the pressure.

      5. Michelle says:

        Awesome!!! Thank you so much for your support!! God Bless 🙂

      6. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        My pleasure. Safe travels 🙂

      7. Michelle says:

        Thank you Anne Marie 😀
        So if I cut it up it will be ok?

      8. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        You’re welcome, Michelle. Yes, cut up is fine. My first SCOBY was cut up and stuffed into a 1-ounce jar. It worked really well.

  4. hahahahaa! The invasive SCOBY!!!! I think I would love a chunk of Etheldreda, but is it true you must use sugar to do kombucha?

    1. It is invasive! She’ll take over my entire kitchen if I let her. I will put you on the list for the drawing and let you know if I pull your name on Saturday.

      As for the sugar, yes you need sugar to brew kombucha. The tea won’t ferment without it. BUT by the time your kombucha is ready, it has only a bit of sugar left. The sugar fuels the fermentation. If you let it go long enough, it will turn completely vinegary and contain no sugar. Most people like it with a little bit of sweetness. So, yes you add a lot of sugar but you don’t actually consume much of it, the mother does.

      1. don’t worry about it, as I won’t be back until mid-march. thanks though!!!

      2. Okay, have a good trip 🙂

  5. Oh YESSSSSSSSSS PLLLEASSSSSSE! (I’m jumping up and down waving my arms wildly like Horshack in the back of the class). I have a friend who makes Kombucha and I’ve been buying hers and am secretly envious of her Scobi. I’d love the chance to play with Etheldreda and make my own. Fingers crossed I’m one of your lucky three!

    1. Okay, Horshack-Karen, I’ve added your name to the list for the drawing. I’ll let you know on Saturday if I pull your name. It’s so easy to make kombucha! The tricky part is finding the mother.

  6. How do we enter to win? I would ABSOLUTELY love love love to get a piece of your SCOBY!!! We make a lot of kimchi and sauerkraut, but have never made kombucha at home! I would love sharing this and your recipe for kombucha with other natural parents in our network!!!

    1. Mmmm I love kimchi and sauerkraut. Kombucha is SO easy to brew. The only difficult step is finding the mother. I’m keeping a list of people who want a piece and I’ll randomly draw three names on Saturday. I can just contact you on here if I pull your name. Thanks!

      1. Awesome, thanks so much!!

  7. Ooh! I was just thinking about this! It would be awesome to try making it at home! I’d love to give it a shot! Thanks 🙂

    1. I have added you to the list. I’m doing the draw today and will let you know if I pull your name. Thanks for your interest in Etheldreda 🙂

    2. I did do the drawing on Saturday but am just getting back to people now. You’re one of my SCOBY adopters! Will you please email me your mailing address at Thank you!

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