We often get asked whether a SCOBY is safe and effective after being in transit from ourselves to your door.
YES, it will be absolutely fine as the SCOBY is dormant in transit. We vacuum heat seal the SCOBY prior to transit, and being a living organism that causes fermentation it requires oxygen for that process to occur. By being vacuum sealed and without exposure to oxygen, the SCOBY goes into a hibernating dormant state, until it is again exposed to oxygen and nutrients (tea/sugar).
SCOBY is actually the colony of micro bacterial organisms in the liquid (starter liquid). The thick rubbery disc people call a SCOBY is actually a pellicle (this is the protective barrier the bacteria forms at the surface where the oxygen exchange takes place) to protect the organism from bacteria and so on from the outside environment to which it is exposed. Vacuum sealed, the SCOBY is entirely protected from the outside environment and outside bacteria.
SCOBY is not heat sensitive, that’s why you submerge it in hot tea, so exposure to reasonable heat does not impact SCOBY. Conversely cold/refrigeration slows the fermentation process and again SCOBY will hibernate.
The reason we advise Kombucha to be refrigerated is because SCOBY continues to ferment the product unless it is in hibernation. As fermentation continues, it builds up more and more CO2 (carbon dioxide) … ie bubbles. So if your kombucha is not refrigerated, the CO2 will continue to build up massively in the bottle and when you pop the lid, it can fizz up like a volcano!
Mainstream commercial brands essentially cheat, and either pasteurise their product, add chemicals to kill the bacteria (both pointless as you render the positive benefits of kombucha dead) OR, they force carbonate with CO2 in the liquid and gap in the bottle between the lid and the kombucha – thus removing the oxygen and preventing the process of fermentation and halting the fizz build up. Again, force carbonation makes kombucha more shelf stable, however, you’re introducing foreign factors to the kombucha and there’s evidence that the CO2 injected is harmful to the healthy bacteria.
So the reason we put a lot of warnings about refrigeration is for bottled Kombucha products, and Kefir (which is usually dairy based) – both of which require refrigeration and rapid shipping.
Your SCOBY however, lives and thrives at warm temperatures – you’ll be brewing and keeping your fermentation out in normal temperature when it arrives – so on this side it’s good to go.
As soon as you introduce your SCOBY and pellicle to the nutrients it needs to thrive – sugar, tea, and fresh air exchange, it will rapidly start producing kombucha.
If you need any help at any point in the brewing process just send us an email any time!