People on Craigslist Want to Give You Bacteria for Free

Enthusiasts are donating "scoby"—a mix of yeast and bacteria—to help others get started making Kombucha

If you've wanted to grow your own bacteria and yeast, but haven't yet found the grossest way of doing it, congratulations! You can now home-brew that jelly-like organism with the help of a person you met on Craigslist.

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Just in time for the holidays, philanthropists in New York, California, Florida, and other U.S. cities are taking to the “Free Stuff” section of the listings site to give Americans something they think we could all use: Scoby. Scoby sounds like Shrek’s adorable child, but is actually the most repulsive acronym there is: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. When combined with tea, scoby produces a fermented drink that people consume willingly: Kombucha. Bottled, the drink sells for up to $7 at your local fancy bodega. At Williams Sonoma, scoby and a “buch starter”—buch is a nickname used by people who say the word Kombucha so often, they need to shorten it—sells for $25.95. The value of the product is not lost on Craigslist’s buch donors, who seem to take themselves very seriously. Apparently, brewing one scoby will leave you with a baby scoby, and scobies beget scobies until entire households are taken over by scobies and you have to give one away to make space for your human child or spouse. ("My Scoby Hotel is getting very full," says Camille from Plantation, Fla.) One authoritarian in Park Slope took a hard line approach to his giveaway in a now-deleted post from Saturday. 

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Bemoaning the “recurring unreliability” of people who respond to an ad in the free section of Craigslist, the poster warned: “If you don't follow the rules, I will not respond to your email, or you may not get a scoby.” A dark thought.

“I do not have a lot of free time,” said the Oprah of Scoby.

The first rule of free scoby: "Do not ask if it is still available. It is" 

The second: "Do not ask where I am located." You find that out after showing yourself to be more than just an idle browser of Yeast Craigslist. If you are a person who feels that your life in New York is good—but could be improved with additional bacteria—e-mail one of these humanitarians. You would probably get along.