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Has My Scoby Gone Bad? And other Kombucha questions answered…

Has My Scoby Gone Bad? And other Kombucha questions answered... - Holistic Squid

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Normal Mature Scoby – texture, bubbles, white film and white spots are all normal.

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Normal Young Scoby – Notice the brown slimy bit at the top – also normal.

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Normal Mature Scobies being lifted out of their brew for the next batch.

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Moldy Scoby – Must be thrown away or composted.

 

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Moldy Scoby – Must be thrown away or composted.

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Healthy Mature Scoby – To save for later or sharing, add at least one cup of reserved kombucha and store in a sealed glass jar in the fridge.

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Normal kombucha ‘beard’ – part of the yeast doing its thing – Drink or strain out of finished ‘bucha.

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A side view of several mature scobies on the left awaiting the cooling sweet tea on the right.

This post is a follow-up to last week’s post - How to Make Kombucha – A Visual Guide.  Reader question answered…

Roxanna wants to know:

What do I do with all the scoby babies? 

While you can find lots of answers out there from stir-fried scoby to dog treats and leather substitutes, I think the best options are:

  1. Give away your extra scobies
  2. Save your extra scobies for later (in a lidded jar with some reserved kombucha in the fridge)
  3. Compost your older scobies – plants love kombucha fertilizer!  For best results, give them a quick chop in a blender or food processor before adding them to your compost pile.
  4. Start a ‘bucha business! – You’d be surprised how many folks would be happy to pay rather than make their own.

Jackie likes to used distilled water…

Is it better to use distilled water when making kombucha?

Some kombucha brewers swear by distilled water to make a “stronger and purer” finished product or to prevent mold from developing. Personally, I have never had mold occur except for when I’ve used flavored tea or recently had some potatoes go moldy in the ‘bucha pantry. I prefer water that is more like it occurs in nature than a science lab, so I use filtered water (ours is reverse osmosis with the minerals added back in). Whether you choose distilled or filtered be sure to use water that is free of chlorine and fluoride which aren’t good for the health of your scoby or you!

Cassandra asks -

After you brew your first batch and plan to make another, what mushroom is best to used? The mother you first started with in the last batch or the new mushroom that grew? Does it matter?

Use either the new scoby or a nice uniform mature scoby for your next batch.  It is fine to leave a few in your brew, but when it starts to get crowded, remove the older scobies that are looking ragged and tired and compost them.

…and can you start a continuous brew in a ceramic container with a spout or does it need to be glass?

You can use ceramic or glass for your brews, but make sure the ceramic is sealed. I have heard varying opinions on whether the spout should be plastic or metal.  Try to choose a spout that is least likely to corrode and break down with the fermenting ‘bucha.

Sanja asks…

I love drinking kombucha but I heard recently that it can be damaging to the liver because it attracts all kinds of micro-organisms, good and bad. Is this true?

Great question!  Well, for starters, the whole planet is covered in micro-organisms.  We have become a bit of a germ-o-phobe culture, but the truth is, we NEED good bacteria and yeast for optimal health. When properly prepared, kombucha will naturally contain the proper balance of healthy bacteria and yeast.  A bad batch will be evident by the appearance of mold – black, green, or blue.

As for kombucha and liver health, one of the active ingredients – glucaric acid – is thought to actually make the liver more efficient. Those who have never consumed kombucha before and certainly individuals with weakened immune systems should always take caution when trying something new.

Ultimately, you know best, so see how kombucha feels in your body. Some people experience a “die-off” of un-healthy flora as new healthy bacteria and yeast colonizes their digestive tracts.  While this is a completely normal process, if you suspect that this is occurring, seek support from a qualified health practitioner.

Leah wants to know…

Would it be ok to give kombucha to an 11-month old? My baby recently had to take a dose of heavy-duty antibiotics for a bacterial infection and I’m trying to counteract the digestive results by giving her lots of fermented foods.

Here’s a great answer from Maredith another reader:

I gave my babes sips of Kombucha starting pretty young, probably less than 11 months. I always water it down a bit for the kids, and stick to just a few sips for babies. And just to be safe, I don’t give it to them close to a bed or nap time, usually its a morning shot with breakfast. 

I agree with Maredith –  Kombucha is great for kids, and most love it when you start them young.  Just start with diluted, tiny amounts. Also, because kombucha may contain small amounts of caffeine, avoid giving it to children in the afternoon or near naps, and observe your child to see how they react to drinking it.

Kombucha and other cultured foods are wonderful any time, but post antibiotics, I would recommend taking a high-potency, high-quality probiotic supplement for at least one month to give the body an extra boost of healthy bacteria.

Need a kombucha scoby or continuous brewing kit?  Click here to get one now.

Got a kombucha question that wasn’t answered above? Leave it in the comments below…


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Comments

  1. Veronica Pachenkin via Facebook says:

    After months of reading your articles I think I’m ready to start making my own Kombucha :)

  2. Cassandra Mayer via Facebook says:

    This is fabulous, thank you so much! Your blog is amazing!!!

  3. JoAnne says:

    Awesome. Great post!

  4. Antony Bartlett via Facebook says:

    I just finished ANOTHER bottle of Apple Kombucha. Emily.. you are the queen of Kombucha.

  5. Portia Drantch via Facebook says:

    What is the safest tea to use? I’ve been reading a lot about high flouride content in green and black teas lately.

    • Cassiopeia Schreiner says:

      If you purchase organically grown teas that are loose leaf you wont have anything to worry about with fluoride! I read an article on another blog that has scientific research behind it and the fluoride is a by-product of fertilizers!

  6. Jessica B. says:

    Thanks for the pictures! I’ve been making kombucha for a while, but these pics really explained a LOT that I was unsure about. Hooray! :D

  7. Stef says:

    I am planning to make my own since I am tired of spending wads of money a week for us to drink kombucha. My question is I am pregnant, what type of tea should I use? Is it safe to drink while pregnant? I’ve heard mixed reviews.

    • Emily says:

      The general advice I have heard is that if you drank kombucha before your pregnancy, it is likely that it will be perfectly fine to drink during as well. Just listen to your body and see how it feels. If you are concerned about the caffeine, you can remove much of the caffeine by shocking your tea bags before brewing. This is done by pouring a small amount of boiling water onto your tea bags, allowing it to steep for a 10 seconds or so, and then dumping out that initial tea before using the shocked bags for your actual brew. This will remove a good portion of the caffeine.

  8. […] Stay tuned for next week’s post on kombucha’s frequently asked questions where we will d… […]

  9. Juliette says:

    A huge Thank You for this wonderful article! :0)

  10. Sara says:

    I’ve been making this for a month now and all this time searching for the answer to a question you have here, so thanks!! My original mother and her “baby” are both huge, and I was wondering if it was necessary to remove one of them.
    In regards to the 11 mo. old, imho, I would give her nothing but mama’s milk, but if the baby is formula fed then I agree that small, diluted sips might be helpful.

    • Emily says:

      Sara – You’re welcome! You don’t need to remove the older scoby to have a successful brew, but eventually the new scobies will start to overtake your brewing vessel. I usually take out the extras ever 3-4 brews, leaving the younger, fresher scobies in the pot.

  11. leslie says:

    What is recommended amount to drink.. I love my kombucha and i tend to drink about 16- 24 oz. a day. Can it be harmful to drink too much?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Leslie – If you feel good drinking 16-24 ounces per day, there shouldn’t be any reason why not to drink that much kombucha. I find that with kombucha, I’m either craving it (and LOTS of it) or don’t really want it at all. Perhaps your body is enjoying the therapeutic benefits of right now. Cheers!

  12. Laura says:

    Hi, I’ve made my first batch of kombucha successfully, and love it. I put my SCOBY in the fridge, and now read varying things about whether or not that is a good thing. How should I store the SCOBY? Can I use the refrigerated SCOBY, or will I need to do something different to use it? THANKS.

  13. sarah says:

    hi! thanks for the info! i made a first scoby and it took a long time to form – it was probably too cold in the house in the winter (we don’t use much heat in our house in Los Angeles:) and now it’s probably been in the glass container for about 6 MONTHS! It looks fine, although the SCOBY is rather thin – maybe 3/8 of an inch in a large glass container (about 10″ wide) – it has almost a gallon of tea in it that certainly smells like kombucha!

    I have never refrigerated it…I’m wondering how to tell if it’s safe to use? Can I drink the tea and use the SCOBY? I don’t see any mold and it smells “right”….

    Thanks in advance for any info/advice!

  14. sarah says:

    @Emily — thanks soooooo much!!! That easy-peasy soda sounds awesome! I really appreciate your reply. As a newbie, I wasn’t sure…but the scoby does seem and look ok so I will proceed with my first kombucha batch and as a bonus I get to make your soda with the vinegary stuff thanks to your thoughtful reply. All the best to you, Sarah

  15. Lyn says:

    I’m making a batch now and my scoby’s are not on the top. Is it ok if they are lingering toward the bottom of the glass jars? I started them on 9/3.

  16. Herbie says:

    I have been making Kambucha for a month or so now and I have yet to have a baby scoby form on the top of my container. The tea tastes fine and is pretty well carbonated.
    Any Ideas?

    • Stefani says:

      How did you make it?

      If it’s carbonated it seems as if you’ve lacto fermented it… Let’s hear the recipe so we can know a little more!

  17. Natalie says:

    I see that a few others have commented on this but I have read on Cultures for Health that a SCOBY should never be put in the fridge. Do you still recommend this practice?

    On a different note, THANK YOU for all that you post! I have been really encouraged in my real-food journey by what you share about yours, and your down-to-earth blog entries have been very relatable :).

    nat

    • Kombucha Kamp website also says to never ever store your SCOBY in the fridge. I have put mine in the fridge in the past and have not killed it. Yet, still wondering if that’s the best thing. What is the reasoning behind storing it in the fridge vs. not storing it in the fridge?

      • mamaboo says:

        I just heard that refrigerating the scoby will just stop the growth process but it should continue upon taking out again. I use bottles of manufactured kombucha tea too start a scoby with success. The ones I used stsrted out as being refrigerated and I believe that the reason for that is to stop the fermentation process when the drink is ready to consume (second fermentation with flavoring of your choice) otherwise, too much carbonation can make the bottle go BOOM! I like using ginger and blueberries. Much less sugar but just enough to make carbonation.

        Very nice info here! Thanks for taking the time to give good advice!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Natalie – I also store extra scobies in the fridge and they perform just find when I pass them along to others. Plus a scoby is such a prolific creature that I’m not too worries if a few die on my watch.

  18. Jason says:

    Just curious, how often do you get a baby? I don’t seem to get them as often as it seems I should. Now I never take my scoby out of the jar, when I bottle for a second ferment, I replenish the tea at the same time and go. I usually leave 16-20oz of tea in the jug and add 3 qts of tea made with 1 cup sugar and 4 tea bags (2 green and 2 black). I ferment for 1 week (I got a room in the basement and keep it between 75-78), then bottle and start over. But my SCOBY just gets very thick, does not separate, or grow another very often. I have just split the layers a few times and given them away. Just your thoughts please and thank you:)

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jason – Sorry for the delayed response. It sounds like you have a very healthy, mature scoby. If you want to have your scoby take up less space and you can’t split it easily, you can make a baby by sitting a jar of ‘butcha out on the counter for a week or two until a baby forms.

      • Stefani says:

        Here’s my discovery… the more tea bags used and the more bubbles formed, the more separable layers you get.! Crazy right?! My perfect mix is this.

        1 Gallon of distilled water
        8 teabags (black tea is my favorite!)
        1.5 cups of sugar

        It turns out mildly fizzy (nothing really notable)
        and tastes like a pale ginger ale!

        I then cap them off and leave a few out for me and pop the rest in the fridge.

        Each morning I add whatever fruit I want to add into it and leave it in for the day.
        After my exercise, I’m more than happy to pop the bottle of refreshing Kombucha!

  19. Lauren Trowbridge says:

    I love love love Kombucha, but I just read this article from Living Maxwell saying that Kombucha isn’t that great for you. Can you read what he said in the link and tell me your thoughts? Thank you!! http://livingmaxwell.com/have-we-been-misled-5-organic-foods-that-should-make-you-think-twice

    • Jason says:

      I know my thoughts, 1. most of the sugar is consumed by the SCOBY, so I would not pay attention to that. 2. while there are no studies that can prove it is healthy, there are also no studies proving the GMO’s are bad for you, but I think most agree they are not good. Another way to look at is as that we can study crash statistics, and draw conclusions that wearing seatbelts saves lives. However to do a scientific study, we would need to put X number of people in a vehicle with seatlbelts that do not work, and X number in a vehicle that do, and say “go crash” and see how it works. Not ever going to happen.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Lauren – I agree with Jason. Also, if you love love love Kombucha and it feels good in your body, I would trust that. Kombucha is one of those ‘foods’ that you’re likely to develop an aversion to if your body doesn’t want/need it.

  20. AdolfoL says:

    How do I start Kombucha from scratch, without a Scoby?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Adolfo – You can start kombucha by getting a bottle of store bought ‘bucha and allowing it to sit out for several days until a scoby forms. At that point, you place the scoby in sweet tea and voila! You’re on your way.

      • kristine says:

        Would you recommend putting it into a larger glass jar first or leave it in original bottle? Is it best to leave the lid on or off?

        • Emily says:

          Hi Kristine, thanks for your question. Jar size doesn’t really matter. Cover it with a clean cloth and a rubber band and it should be fine.

  21. jami says:

    How much is too much? My almost 2yr old is practically addicted. I water it down significantly for him since he pretty much only prefers his “bucha”

    • Emily says:

      I would trust how it feels in your body. For a child, trust your instinct. Usually a craving for something like kombucha is driving a need, not an unhealthy addiction.

  22. M says:

    What if you are TTC or newly pregnant? Would starting kombucha for the first time be a bad idea? Could the “die off” potentially be harmful to a developing baby? Also, on another note, how much kombucha would one want to drink to replace the need for a daily probiotic? Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      I probably wouldn’t start kombucha for the first time when newly pregnant, but it’s great when TTC. As for how much to replace a daily probiotic, it’s hard to say and depends on your gut health and overall health. For a healthy person, a combo of cultured food and drink should be sufficient to provide probiotics in the day-to-day.

  23. Can you recommend a container to use for sending kombucha (or water kefir) to school with my son. He’s 5 and I’m a little leery of sending a glass bottle in his backpack, but I know metal isn’t good either. I’d love to know what other people use.

    • Rebecca C says:

      I like those lifefactory bottles. They are a little pricey but hopefully will last a long time. The silicone sleeve should keep it safe. Everyone is always afraid of glass breaking, but I have never had a glass bottle actually break. maybe it depends on if your kids school allows glass. but their baby bottles are actually a different kind of glass that breaks in a safe way, borosilicate I think it is called. You could just buy one of those and they sell white caps for the tops that you can buy also and use instead of the rubber nipple. the baby bottles also come in 4 oz size which might be perfect for a lunch box.

  24. Kelly says:

    I just started 2 gallons of kombucha and had a sudden trip come up. I will be traveling at the time I’ll need to be bottling. Rather than leave my booch to sour while I’m away, I’d like to bring it with me. To prevent it from sloshing around can I put lids on the gallon jars for the 7 hour road trip, then uncover them when I arrive to let them finish brewing?

    • Emily says:

      If you want to take it with you to drink on the trip, that should work. Otherwise, stick it in the fridge as this will slow down the fermentation rate while you are away and you can take it out and continue with it again when you get back.

  25. […] If you’re brewing booch for the first time and wondering if its gone bad, moldy etc, check out this post by Holistic Squid. […]

    • Lesley says:

      Hi guys!
      I adopted a scoby two weeks ago- was told to keep in in a glass bowl with a paper towel over it with a rubber and- I don’t think it came with enough kombucha…
      The reason I say this is the scoby is not in liquid anymore- it’s not moldy I don’t think- it’s a fairly creamy “white” with 3 tea colored spots that are higher parts of the scoby like it’s a bit dry- the scoby has formed to the bowl?! Help??! Trying I make it right now

  26. gabriella says:

    Hi there!
    i am new to the world of kombucha brewing and was given 3 scobys in a small mason jar. i put them in the refrigerator for the last 2 days and now that i am reading about what to do next i keep reading it should not be in the fridge. have i ruined my scobys?

    also, can i put all 3 baby scobys in one large jar?

    thanks so much! your blog is super helpful!

    • Stefani says:

      Take them out for a few days and load them all in the jar! The new scoby that forms on top will cover them all… they will still be able to separate from the new scoby though!

  27. Shana Cohn says:

    We have been making kombucha successfully the last few months. We usually start fresh by discarding the old scoby and leaving enough of the old batch in there to form a new one. Typically the fermentation process has taken 6-7 days. It’s getting warmer now and the temps in the house are around 78 degrees. The last batch turned out awful, almost toxic tasting after it fermented for 5-6 or so days. It was super vinegary and gave us both a stomach ache. Today is day 4 of the new batch and I tasted it and it doesn’t taste very fermented yet, and still pretty sugary. Any advice on this, more sugar, less time fermenting? We are not adding anything to the black tea accept organic white sugar. Thank you,

  28. chris_bdba says:

    I forgot to check my Mother and I just looked and she is hard. She still has tea and I see no mold but she is hard?

  29. Emily says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for your question. You say it is hard and dry? You may need to start over. I don’t know if dehydrated scoby can be brought back to life, but if you try it and it works, let us know. Good luck!

  30. RJ says:

    Does the SCOBY have any nutritional value?

    • Jason says:

      It is a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, so it is like a solid floating probiotic (on steriods). My bottles of bucha almost always form a small SCOBY in them, and I typically swallow them like an oyster:)

    • Emily says:

      Hi RJ, I don’t think there’s any research on the nutritional value of the scoby itself but if you’re interesting in eating them take a look at this post on Scoby Jerky.

  31. Jason says:

    So thought I would share this story since there has been new activity here. I brew 3 1 gallon jugs a week for my family, so I have been giving SCOBY’s away to friends and everyone is having great success using them with my recipe for kombucha. Except one of my coworkers who has killed 2 of them. So with my wife and oldest daughter out of town for a while, I text my coworker and told her I had a jug, SCOBY and starter, bring her stuff and we will brew at work and see if we can figure out the problem. Here is how our convo went.
    Me: I have stuff to brew at work, lets figure this out.
    Her: Do I need a jug?
    Me: No, just your tea and a cup of sugar
    Her: Sugar???
    Me: It takes a cup of sugar for each 3 quart batch of bucha, did we just figure out how you are killing them?
    Her: Uggh, poor SCOBY’s they starved to death:)

    I think people try to cut the sugar to make be a low sugar drink. But the SCOBY digests the sugar, you don’t, do not skimp the sugar.

  32. Mary Hagerman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the photos of the scobies with the description of how a normal scoby should look. I am in the process of re-hydrating a scoby recently purchased on line. Never having seen one I most likely would toss a perfectly good scoby due to its unusual appearance. Appreciate the visual.

  33. Bobbey says:

    I’ve had a half gallon jar of tea with a few scobys in the fridge since late 2011. Providing they are mold free, would they still be good to use?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Bobbey, thanks for the question. It might be possible, it may take quite awhile. I just revived a scoby that had been in the fridge for about 6 months and it took about a month.

  34. Darcie says:

    Hi there, two questions:

    1) My kombucha doesn’t get much fizz, not like the store bought kind. Is there a trick to it? I always do a second ferment for at least 3 days with fruit/ginger and tightly sealed lid, then refrigerate the bottles.
    2) Is there an ideal length of time it should take to brew? Mine is taking 3-4 weeks, and I think this is a relatively long time – maybe I’m using too much sugar?
    Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Darcie, thanks for your questions. I have no idea why the store bought stuff fizzes like that but my home brews are never that fizzy either. You may need a warmer spot if your brew is slow. You can also try using a seedling mat to keep it warm. That may speed it up a little. I hope that helps!

      • Isiah says:

        I drop a couple (5-10) raisins or craisins into my kombucha before the 2nd ferment to give it fizz. I don’t know why.. but it works!

  35. Allison says:

    I bought some kombucha from the store and am workin on growing a baby scoby from it. It has already started to form in the 2 1/2 weeks I’ve kept a cup or so of it in a dark warm place. How do I know when the scoby is mature enough to start brewing my own batch with it? Does it need to be a certain size? Or have specific characteristics like the brown veins or a specific thickness?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Allison, thanks for your question. It sounds like your scoby should be ready… Put it in the sweet tea with the ‘mother’ kombucha that it grew in and you should be good to go.

  36. Rod says:

    Why is my kombucha not fizzy?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Rod, thanks for your question. Home brewed kombucha doesn’t fizz all that much for the most part. As long as it tastes good, it should be fine. Hope that helps.

      • Ours doesn’t fizz much on the first fermentation. But on the second we get tons of fizz! Like TONS! If we don’t chill it first we could have a geyser in the kitchen!

        • Stefani says:

          You only need to bottle it for a few days for the fizz! Mine have always exploded if capped and left out for more than 4 days!

  37. jenny says:

    so, ive been making my own kombucha now for years. with the same scoby. about a month ago, when I was about to switch out my brew, I noticed it had WORMS. ugh.
    I had gone in mid brew cycle and taken out a scoby for a friend, and I thought maybe that was the reason.. so, in a few weeks, once my friend who I had given a scoby to, had one to give me, I restarted with a new batch.
    its been over a month and yesterday when I went to switch it out I noticed worms AGAIN! am completely perplexed, I have never had issues, I keep it covered with a cheese cloth, rubber band around glass, and I am careful to not fill it too ful with tea so as to not touch the cloth.
    what could be happening?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jenny, thanks for your question. As far as the worms go, that’s a new one for me too. Maybe a fly got in and laid eggs?

      • Jenny says:

        I keep the top covered with a piece of material and a rubber band. I also try to be careful to not fill tea too full so that flies can lay eggs on the fabric top.
        Really am stumped.
        For the person with the sinking scoby its the tempurature. Its too cold…it needs to be a certain temp for the scoby to float….and if the scoby doesnt float it doesnt breath. Also, the fizz that kombucha tea has can be acheived by bottling it for an additional week with a in a jar with a sealed lid

        • Stefani says:

          Hey Jenny!
          You had a gnat get in there and lay eggs it seems. I stopped using cheese cloth and have stuck with coffee filters.

          You only need to bottle it for a few days for the fizz! Mine have always exploded if capped and left out for more than 4 days!

  38. brian says:

    can you feed kombuchu to your plants?

  39. Jason says:

    I am new but excited to make home brew Kombucha, I like it strong when I buy it so I let it sit a very long time. Probably too long like 3 months (I was experimenting) when I looked recently I saw a tun of mold floating on top of the jar which was a new culture that had formed. I pulled it out and wiped the mold from the top of the jar but my original mother that I started the tea with was on the bottom and seams to be mold free. I know not to drink the tea ( I assume ) but right now my mother culture is in that same tea and jar. Do I Toss everything including my original culture? or can I save it and start a new tea or make a hotel for it? Please Help, Thank You- Jason

  40. Shannon says:

    I just received my first scoby to make my first batch of Kombucha. I went to poor in the tea and saw a tiny bug in the scoby. I tried getting it out and could not. I didn’t think to cut out the bug. I added the tea anyway (maybe silly of me?!). The bug was little nat. Even if it doesn’t grow mold, do you think it will be ok? Thank you!

  41. Olivia says:

    So I made my first batch of Kombucha yesterday. I put in my SCOBY at 81 degrees because the room was fairly warm/I needed to sleep. Do you think that this was too high of a temperature for it to be put in and do you think it will die?
    Also, I realized the only container I had last night was plastic and bought a glass jar today. I transported my kombucha into it. I saw some more of the yeast brown threads than the day before. (I’m guessing that was a good sign and that it’s not dead?) Do you think the change of container will bring a bad brew?
    I’m willing to buy another SCOBY but I don’t know if any of this will harm it. Thank you!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Olivia, your brew should be fine from the sounds of it…Good luck!

      • Olivia says:

        My SCOBY ended up floating up and making a few new layers of a baby scoby and attaching itself near it. I’m so happy! I used a 100% juice blend of primarily peaches and the carbonation seems to be coming along nicely. :) Thank you!

        • Emily says:

          That’s great! It’s so good to hear success stories. Well done and keep it up!

          • Olivia says:

            Hi again Emily,

            My house has fleas and we are bug bombing it on Saturday. (We have some neighbors who don’t give their cats any flea meds…)
            I don’t want to cover up my kombucha but I don’t want to kill my SCOBY.
            Should I take a risk and cover it with plastic wrap/put it in the fridge for a few hours/something else? We are doing a four hour bug bomb and may be gone from the house even longer.
            I’m just afraid I’m going to contaminate it, make myself or the SCOBY sick, and eventually not have kombucha to drink. :(

            Any suggestions?!

        • Emily says:

          Hi Olivia. Definitely put it in the fridge. It will just slow the fermentation process of the scoby. I’d probably leave it in there for a couple of weeks just to be safe.

  42. kathy says:

    The last batch I made was 5/27 and it is 7/16. The starter has been in this batch the whole time. The top is dry, but all its babies look good. Is it okay to use and begin another batch. This time I won’t let it go more than the usual 7-9 days.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Kathy – Thanks for your question! It shouldn’t be a problem. Use one or a few of the babies and some of the liquid to begin your new batch.

  43. Michelle says:

    I am new to making bucha…….last week when I took the first brew out and put it into jars for second fermentation I added some mixed berry juice….thought it was molding…..today I went to deal with it thinking sadly that I had to start over…..it looks like I have 4 babies in the quart jars…..each jar has a small disc that is solid…….any ideas???

  44. Jessica says:

    So I recently started my own batch, I may be over thinking the whole process. But I really don’t wanna screw this up! I added the sugar once the tea was cooled, so there is some extra sugar that hasent dissolved in yet my jar. Wondering if this is okay??

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jessica, thanks for your question and so glad you have decided to start making kombucha! Next time I’d add the sugar when the tea is still warm or hot so the sugar can dissolve. For now, just give it a good stir and it should be fine. Good luck!

  45. john says:

    Thanks for offering to answer questions. I’ve been brewing kombucha using the continuous brewing method and a heat pad for a stable temperature for the colder climate(Ireland!) There just seems to be so so much growth of kombucha or is it kombucha I dont know.

    I started off with two Scobys, one floats about by itself, the other one seems to have attached itself to a bigger piece(ole top layer perhaps) Its the bigger pieces Im not sure about. The kombucha keeps sealing itself off with a top layer but this layer becomes so ridiculously thick it is cutting out the room for my tea! Is this top layer a scoby or what is it?

    • Emily says:

      Hi John, it’s only a pleasure! And in answer to your question, yes, the top layer is a scoby. The babies will usually layer themselves, so you can pull it apart, and use a thinner layer and either discard the rest of it or share it with a friend. I hope this helps!

  46. wendy miller says:

    I left my original scoby and a newly formed scoby in a full SEALED large jar of combucha for three months. it is not molded but I did not refrigerate it. is it bad????

  47. Aimee says:

    Hi Emily! Your posts on Kombucha are so helpful! I’ve been brewing for about 4 months now and it has been going great! I have given a lot of SCOBYs away to friends and family and got them hooked on the bucha too. The last couple batches I’ve made have been thick and syrupy. They still taste pretty sweet after my normal 10 day brew cycle. My SCOBYs still look normal. Any clue as to what this could be?

  48. Justin says:

    Hey Emily,
    You’re a huge help to many kombucha starters. I’m a fellow brewer myself…been doing it for about a year or so. My question is about the scoby. My process is very similar to all the ones posted above: 2 gallons (green) tea, 2 – 2 1/2 cups sugar, fermenting at 77º for seven days, always covered tightly with a cloth. Sometimes the batches will vary in fermentation, which I do not mind, but I will ALWAYS start a new one every Sunday.
    The problem…my scoby has never actually grown. When I received it from a friend (a life long ‘bucha brewer) it was perfectly healthy, and has produced amazing kombucha ever since. However, I am concerned something is wrong with it, or maybe I am doing something incorrectly since I never receive a kombucha “baby.”
    Is this an issue? Thanks for your help.

  49. nicole says:

    Hiiii…
    So I made a green tea kombucha batch and thought I would add powdered matcha green tea. the problem is not all of the powder was blended and a few little powder chunks settled to the bottom and,also on the scoby. So it kinda looks like spotted mold although it really is powered matcha chunks. do you think if left on the culture that it can turn into a mold? should I try to scrape it off or have to throw the culture away?

  50. nicole says:

    I don’t know what to do! I went on vacation and forgot about my fermenting scoby:( it has been there for about two months. It doesn’t seem to have any mold. But I’m not positive as to what to do or what to look for. Any advice on what I should do?

  51. Emily says:

    Hi Nicole, don’t worry! This has happened to all of us at one time or another! Just use the scoby and some of the super strong tea to start a fresh batch. It should be perfectly fine.

  52. Vibhuti says:

    I have out my healthy scoby from a 2 l jar into a 5 gallon plastic fermenting container. Will the new scoby grow into the size of the new container?

    • Vibhuti says:

      Hi it’s me again.
      I have successfully brewed my first batch of Kombucha and flavoured it with fresh pinnaple pieces – delicious! I’m so taken by it that I want to brew a lot more, hence the purchase of a 25l (5 gallons) plastic brewing container. These containers come with a plastic lid. Is it a good idea to use this lid (perhaps with the addition of an airlock?) or is it best to stick to textile and elastic band?

      And again the other question, will the new baby scoby grow to the size of the much larger diameter of the 25l tank? My gut feeling is that it will, only I suppose, much slower, or over a longer time… Am I right?

      Also to start with, I’ve only put 4 litres of sugar and tea in the tank…

      Thanks Emily for answering so many questions already!

      • Stefani says:

        I would be careful brewing in plastic containers! Anything fermented tends to leech the chemicals out of the plastic.

        • Tom says:

          Food grade plastics do not leech chemicals into the foods inside them. That’s why they are called “food grade”! Amazingly, most plastic buckets from Home Depot or other big box stores are in fact food grade. There is a small triangular symbol on food grade buckets with a number “2” in the center, and the letters “HDPE” below. This means the chemicals will not leech out into your foods. While I prefer glass myself, I would hate anyone to not try great Kombucha just because they can’t find a suitable container.

  53. Emily says:

    Holy mother!!!
    I am going to try candied or stir-fried scobies.
    Hope you’ll check out my very new blog….
    organicholistichealth.wordpress.com
    Do you know what the preferred water pH is?
    Thanks! Emily

  54. Molly says:

    Could I send you a photo of my Scobee and you could tell me if this is mold or not???

  55. Stefani says:

    Hello!
    The strangest thing happened to me tonight.

    I was lazily strolling through my home after a long day. On my way to the refrigerator to grab an ice cold bottle of Ginger Kombucha I passed by my current brew and it was speaking to me!!

    Well… OK! Not a discernible language… just a high pitched bubbling sound. No bubbles breaking the surface yet either. You would have thought it was singing me a love song lol! I just smiled and grabbed my phone to record the noise. I then made my brother come have a listen to make sure I wasn’t totally nuts. It was a great ending to my day for sure!

    I’ve never heard anything like it… Is that something you’ve heard of before?

    Thanks!
    Stefani

    • Stefani says:

      So … I’ve since started a new brew and it’s still singing happily. I have never heard anyone report the same issue, but my kombucha is delicious and the taste is consistent . I wonder, is anyone else having the same experiences? I’m taking it as a sign of an extremely healthy scoby!

      One gallon of DISTILLED water
      2.5 Cups white sugar
      8 black tea bags
      2 cups reserved kombucha

      I bring the tea bags to boil in about 1/2 gallon of the distilled water for 5 minutes.
      Let steep for 20 while the sugar dissolves. Add to the remaining distilled water and pour over the scoby and starter.

      One gallon of kombucha isn’t enough for a week for my family! I’m about to try my hand at the continuous brew method.

  56. Jennifer Awalt says:

    Hey! I was wondering if there is a need to refresh your Kombucha? I have a friend whom I received my scoby from and she is doing so, so I am wondering if I need to do the same. She’s been using the same mother and the babies for over a year and heard that she needed to do so. I can’t find anything to substantiate that, but I too have’t seen it questioned or addressed. So, do I need to buy a bottle and start over?

    Thanks!
    Jennifer

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for the question. I wouldn’t think this would be something you absolutely need to do that I know of…

    • Stephanie says:

      It’s not necessary. There is nothing wrong with your scoby, I know people who have kept the mother for years and give the babies away. Your scoby is used to your kombucha the way you make it! Too many layers is just a waste, though! Think of it as sharing the same basket of food with a new person picking from it too! You’re not going to be as satisfied!

      Refreshing your scoby is as simple as peeling the older layers back. Remember the new ones form at the top! I usually don’t let my scoby get any thicker than 3 inches. Give it to someone to start a new batch. Or you can also use them as a facial mask or keep them in a jar for a facial astringent. They do wonders as a foot soak for athletes feet! Dehydrate and give to your dogs as a rawhide replacement!

      Hope this helped!

  57. Hello! I need some advice. I had my scoby hotel on top of my fridge covered with a cloth (to make more scobys). We had our house sprayed for fleas and I totally forgot about the hotel. Do you think the scobys are contaminated now?
    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Stefani says:

      I’m sorry! It’s discouraging when you forget about something you’ve put so much time into.

      Unfortunately, I would err on the side of caution and pitch it. If you have reserve kombucha You can place it in a few small glass jars to form a new scoby faster. Dump all of them into a new jar and you should be back to your normal production within a few weeks!

      • I just needed someone to say it, I knew I needed to throw it ALL out, but just couldn’t do it.
        Unfortunately, my scoby hotel housed all of my reserve unflavored kombucha as well. Thanks for talking some sense into me. :)

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jerri Ann, thanks for the question. I’d throw it out and start again. I’d also keep the hotel in the fridge covered with a lid to slow the fermentation process.

  58. Yoli says:

    I had a batch, gone bad? is it possible? smelled as drain water if you know what
    I mean, and didn’t taste good. But why?

    • Stefani says:

      There are so many factors that could indicate why it went bad. Was there mold? What did it look like? What type of water/sugar/tea did you use? How long did it sit? What container did you use? Did you cover it?

  59. Artsyzeal says:

    Hello,

    I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to move my kombucha before 7 days. Will it ruin my kombucha if I moved it? It’s y first batch and once each day for about 3 o 4 days within the first seven, I took it off the shelf to look at it. I didn’t shake it or taste it. I set it on the counter, looked at the top and then turned it a couple of times to see what was happening. I hope I didn’t destroy or kill it. Please answer.

    Artsyzeal

    • Stefani says:

      I always move mine! How can you not help but look! I think they’re just worried of it sinking and taking longer to form a scoby.

  60. brian says:

    My scoby has been at the bottom for 5 days now. There is a cloud forming from the scoby to the top with a film at the surface. Is this ok?

  61. brian says:

    Ok its definitely a new scoby at the surface. A very thin one. When I picked up the jar the new one fell down and folded in half! I’m guessing this is ok. This is my first time making kombucha. Its some strange stuff for sure. Hope it comes out good.

    • Stefani says:

      I’m curious… did you start the scoby in a different jar before this one giving the Scoby time to form?
      If anything you can just let it brew the week and bottle the existing kombucha. Remove the scoby and after you’ve mixed the tea and starter place the scoby on top in an effort to get it to float. Don’t bump it around too much until it’s had a chance to form to the bigger jar.

  62. brian says:

    Also, my tea is so brown and cloudy at the bottom I can barely see my scoby. In most of the pics I’ve seen the tea looks pretty clear.

  63. brian says:

    I started this from a scoby I purchased. It looked nice and healthy. White and about 4in wide and half in thick with starter tea.

    • Stefani says:

      No worries! The lighter Kombucha is one of 2 things. Either green tea, or thoroughly digested Kombucha. The longer it sits, the clearer it gets! The fog at the bottom of the jar is usually yeast settling to the bottom. You’ll see brown strands clinging to the bottom of your scoby soon too!

  64. Lisa says:

    I’ve brewed kombucha a few times, with varying success, and I just got back last night from a week-long trip, to find that the kombucha in my glass jar is inflated. Like a balloon. So now the majority of the scoby is sticking up out of the tea (just black tea + sugar). Obviously the fermentation causes bubbles, but I’ve never seen this happen. Did I put the scoby in upside down? Will it grow mold and need to be thrown out? Thanks very much!

  65. Justin says:

    My scoby produces great kombucha, but will not grow. Is something wrong with it? What’s the best way to get/grow a new one?

    • Zark says:

      Take a batch of your fermented tea and leave it sit in a glass jar for a few weeks with a cloth cover so that it can breathe. The new scoby baby will soon grow.

  66. Kristen says:

    my friend gave me a scoby a little over two weeks ago. I completely forgot about it and it has been sitting on the counter. It does not appear to have mold. Still safe to use?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Kristen, thanks for the question. It should be fine as long as there’s no mold. Good luck!

      • Linda says:

        Thank you for this question and reply! I received a scoby from a friend 3 days ago and haven’t had a chance to do anything with it. I was so worried about whether it was still good or not.

        Would it be better to keep it in the fridge if I can’t use it right away? It’s sitting on my counter also.

  67. John says:

    Some fruit flies made it through my tea towel, what is a better cover and is my SCOBY ruined?

    • Stefani says:

      Did you notice any maggots? If yes, pitch it. If no, I’d wash it thoroughly with apple cider vinegar.

      I only use coffee filters now. It has totally eliminated that issue.

  68. Rachel Murray says:

    I have a question! What is that whitish sediment that collects at the bottom of the kombucha jar when it’s brewing?

    • Zark says:

      I would like to second that question. I wonder if it is something akin to the ‘cream of tartar’ that occurs in wine making.

  69. Rhianon says:

    I started my first brew 4 days ago I discovered there was. Small human hair on top before so I just removed it with wooden spoon. Would this have contained my brew?

  70. Queenie says:

    HI i recently got a gift a nice big healthy scoby. when i got home (i live very remote and the nearest store is an hour away by boat) i had nothing to properly keep it in, and put it in a sterilized tub that is about 1.6 litres big. that was 3 days ago. I have found a nice 2 litre jar now and am wondering if i should move it now or wait till the week is up to move it? the tub its in is food grade plastic and i am not super worried about the plastic leaching, i am more worried about the scoby being unhappy. any advice is greatly appreciated and needed asap. btw the scoby is doing fine in there and looks to be doing its job so i am reluctant to move it but i also want it to be in the best environment for long term brewing! thank you in advance!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Queenie, thanks for the question. If you are ready to start brewing you should be able to move it now, if you want to. Otherwise a few more days should be fine, just don’t leave it too long.

  71. Casey Thomas says:

    I left for the summer. My scoby does not seem to be healthy. The yeast that normally grew in the bottom isn’t as abundant. How do I restore the balance?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Casey, it sounds like your scoby isn’t active anymore. It’s difficult to say what’s wrong without knowing the exact circumstances, water, tea, sugar etc. used.

  72. Jason says:

    I have been brewing a couple batches of bucha a week for about a year now, and the last couple of months, it has stopped being fizzy, any thoughts what might cause that? I do a first ferment for about a week until all the sweetness is gone, and then add 2.5 oz of fruit juice in 16oz bottle, seal and do the second ferment for 5-7 days. It used to be very fizzy, but not so much anymore. It is still really good, and I drink it every day, just thought I would ask.

  73. Shannon says:

    I have had my kombucha in a dark cupboard for about 3 months now ( I got busy and forgot about it) and now I don’t know if it’s safe to use. I want to throw out the current batch but reuse my scoby if it’s not dangerous to do so. The scoby is a cream color and has grown from about 1/2 inch think to being about 4 inches thick, so it’s REALLY big now! I don’t see any spots of mold on it at all. Also I used green tea to make this batch, should that have any effect on the health of the scoby?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Shannon, thanks for your question. Your scoby sounds healthy. Green tea should be fine and shouldn’t damage your scoby in any way. Try not to use other herbal teas though.

  74. Melodi says:

    Hi there,

    I’ve been making Kombucha for a couple months now and just tried something different. I tried green tea pomegranate & mixed berry and regular green tea together. After the batch fermented, it looked pretty normal and tasted really good. I have heard not to use herbal teas. Do you think this is fine?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Melodi, thanks for your question. The main reason not to use herbal tea is that it will not nourish your scoby so you could weaken the kombucha culture. You could probably combine the herbal tea with the real tea for a batch or two in between normal batches. Doing this once shouldn’t hurt your scoby too badly as long as you return it to a real tea mixture as soon as possible.

  75. trischa says:

    Help! I just made my first batch of kombucha, last night, I added fresh mango and ginger to it but am now realizing that this shouldn’t happen until the second phase of double fermentation. Is it bad that there are mangos and ginger in my batch? This is the batches first day of fermentation. Should I take out the mangoes?

    Thanks!

  76. Nancy says:

    I was doing my 3rd batch a few days ago and found a greenish glob about the size of a small marble in between the old and new scoby. I thought it was mold and threw out the scoby and the tea. I was so worried, but sad to lose a quart of kombucha. I also didn’t want to get sick either. I proceeded to finish and bottle the batch and found tiny traces of the green stuff on 2 other scobys I was going to use for the next batch. I decided to rinse them off in the sink and made the next batch anyway. I have read everything I can find, but nothing that describes or looks like what I threw out. From what I have read, mold has to be fuzzy and this was not. I’m wondering if it was only a green form of the brown stringy stuff that is the yeast. Does anyone out there know what this is or if it is safe? I’m really nervous if was mold and don’t want to drink it if it’s not safe.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Nancy, thanks for your question. It’s difficult to say without actually seeing it. If it is green, it could definitely be mold. It isn’t always fuzzy. Brown spots or brown stringy stuff is fine. If you’ve rinsed off your scoby and there are no traces of the green bits anymore, you should be okay to start over but if it comes up it may be safer to get new scobies. Hope that helps.

  77. Rebecca says:

    We’ve been brewing Kombucha for a few months now and the “recipe” I got with my starter Scooby says to use sugar in it, which I’ve been using since the yeast eats most of the sugar anyways. However, I would much rather use honey than sugar. Will using honey, especially raw honey, hurt my Scooby or kombucha batch in anyway?
    Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for your question. I wouldn’t suggest substituting the sugar with honey. Honey has it’s own bacterial profile and other organic material which could also attract mold or make your batch unstable. Hope that helps!

  78. Merle says:

    How about kombucha in pregnancy? I’ve been drinking GT’s Kombucha everyday for years…and now I’m pregnant. Can I continue (hope you say yes!)?

  79. Christine says:

    Hi! I have been brewing my first batch of kombucha for 9 days. It has a beautiful new scoby growing on the top, but I do not see any brown yeast strings anywhere in my jar. Is my kombucha still going to have all of the health benefits?

  80. Hi there, I hope Im not being redundant but couldn’t find an answer to my question in the thread above.. or anywhere on the interwebs, actually. I just brewed my first batch of bucha! I’m really excited, so excited in fact that while I was transferring the brew to start my 2nd batch I d r o p p e d m y s c o b y. On the floor. I swear I could have kicked myself in the shin if it were anatomically possible. Anyway, I immediately rinsed the scoby and started the 2nd brew anyway, and just keeping a watchful eye. The “baby” has begun to fold up into a cluster and isn’t spread out like before. No signs of mold or bad bacteria yet but this seemed unusual. Any cause for concern? Thank you for being here for all of the newbies like me!

  81. janet apple says:

    I bought a scoby online 3weeks ago It did have some liquid with it but not much..Maybe half a cup 2 weeks have passed,no new scoby.whats wrong?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Janet – Thanks for your comment. Is your tea culturing and starting to taste like kombucha? If so, it’s working. Sometimes scobies take awhile when starting a new batch. I’d give it another month, and see what happens.

  82. Sarah says:

    Aloha,

    I live in Hawaii where ants run ramped. I have found that tea tree oil works to raid off the little guys. I usually put some on my finger and smear the outside rims of the Kombucha jar…well, I was on my second brew when I noticed an ant had crept onto my Baby Scooby. Instinctually I removed the baby from the top and continued to brew…is this okay? I haven’t found much information on ants in your kombucha and what the protocol is…

    Mahalo for anyone’s input!

  83. joe says:

    i got some dead fruit flies that got into my scoby it was like 5 of the flies … should I throw it away. and start all over??????

  84. Ashley says:

    Hello! I’ve been brewing kombucha constantly since April and loving it. For a long time I was passing babies on to friends nonstop but my last two batches, while delicious, have produced no babies. The only thing I can notice that is different is that it has been really cold lately. Why do you think no new babies are forming? Thank you so much for any thoughts you can share.

  85. […] Laut dieser Seite ist mein kleiner Frankenstein ganz normal :). Und ich glaube ich habe soeben meinen Kombucha […]

  86. Stacy says:

    So I’ve been brewing Kombucha for a couple years now…and for the FIRST TIME EVER..I noticed MOLD on my scoby….NOOO THE HORROR!! :( SO i immediately removed the top/moldy scoby and threw it away. But what about the other scoby underneath (the original) along with the rest of the batch of brew…does it ALL Need to be discarded as well??
    Any idea why this happened? Mayb too long brew time or not enough sugar?

    Thank you!!

    SLD

  87. Tracy says:

    Hello!
    My Kombucha smells and tastes ready, however a baby scoby has not formed (70 degrees 8 days) there is only a thin layer on top of the mother scoby used.
    Should I still drink it?

    Thank you for your help!

  88. baerbel carstens says:

    My kombucha looks cloudy,is it still safe to drink? I think my scobie is still good,but maybe to old?
    It still taste good,but I,m not sure if it is safe to drink??Thanks ..

  89. cindy says:

    How long is it safe to leave a SCOBY out of the brew if it is carefully covered? Only for cosmetic purposes. I think it is really good for skin issues. Any hints? I do have many scobys, so I’m not worried about my brew.

    I’ve been working with kombucha for more than a year and am just crazy about it! I also do kefir, cultured vegetables, & preserved lemons.

  90. Diane says:

    Hi, I just made some Kombucha and one didn’t taste any good had a kind of sour, old tea bags taste. I know I need to throw it away. But here is my question. With a straw I tested the K-tea like you teach, not thinking, I put the same straw in 4 other jars. Since the first one was not good; are all the others bad? since I used the same straw? thank

  91. kristina says:

    Is it possible for Kombucha to make candida problems worse? Or are the symptoms only ‘die-off’ effects? And I’ve also been wondering, if Bragg’s ACV eats holes in my scoby, then is it counter-productive to use both ACV and Kombucha on a regular basis? It seems that the ACV would kill the bacteria that the Kombucha has repopulated. So which is better for candida, I cannot seem to conquer it.

  92. Diane says:

    Is there a place to get answers? Here is my question..

    .Hi, I just made some Kombucha and one didn’t taste any good had a kind of sour, old tea bags taste. I know I need to throw it away. But here is my question. With a straw I tested the K-tea like you teach, not thinking, I put the same straw in 4 other jars. Since the first one was not good; are all the others bad? since I used the same straw? thank I also have been making K-tea for a year and never had any like this the scoby looked fine but the tea didn’t taste good. I threw it out. but what about the other k-teas and putting the straw into them. anyone know this question?

    Read more: http://holisticsquid.com/has-my-scoby-gone-bad-and-other-kombucha-questions-answered/#ixzz2qTvSJh4P

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  95. Jeremy says:

    Is the clear film that develops within the bottled Kombucha a new SCOBY forming?

  96. Christy says:

    I believe that kombucha has a small alcohol content. How do you know how much you are getting?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Christy – Thanks for your comment. I’ve heard it has a small amount of alcohol, but I’m not sure how much. I’ve never gotten tipsy from it. ;)

  97. PamL says:

    I have been making Kombucha since July 2013. All of the batches have turned out clear, but the last batch was somewhat cloudy. My current batch is so cloudy, you can’t see through the tea. Is there something wrong with it?

    • Emily says:

      Hi PamL – I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that if it smells fine, it’s fine. :)

      • PamL says:

        Thanks Emily. It’s clearing up now. I hadn’t been washing the brewing container out and I think it was accumulating excess yeast. Smells fine and tastes right too. And it’s growing healthy SCOBYs!

  98. Angie Zangs says:

    I have been brewing kombucha for awhile now, but during these winter months I have noticed that my SCOBY isn’t growing a baby or just a very thin layer. Therefore, I have to keep using the same ol’ mother over and over again (I don’t have any back-ups). She’s probably getting pretty tired. Is this typical in winter months? Also, how long can the same SCOBY carry on? Also, when storing SCOBYs does it have to be totally submerged in the starter tea/sugar tea? If I only use a cup, as they state, it doesn’t quite cover the entire thing. Not sure if that is bad or not. Thanks for your help!

  99. Schlem says:

    I have brewing kombucha for about 5 months. I’d say within the first month of drinking it every day I started to notice benefits in my general health and energy levels, plus my skin seemed to look a bit better. Last month I started a second experimental brew using a fresh scoby, part mate and part green tea. It turned out well (bottled with pieces of ginger) , so I did it again, reusing the scoby and the baby it was growing.. On this batch I had some pomegranate juice so I put that in the bottles and let it go for a second ferment for about 4 days because I wanted a bit more carbonation. I tasted it this morning and it smelled and tasted very yeasty. Like really really cheap wine maybe. No real vinegar, tea, or even pomegranate flavor. Mildly unpleasant in smell and flavor actually. Nice and bubbly though. Is it safe to drink still? Does it signify an imbalance of yeast to bacteria, like maybe my scoby wasn’t as healthy as I thought. On this second batch, I fermented it 10 days until it tasted quite nice (not too sweet, a bit on the sour side) so I’m surprised that it tastes so bad on the 2nd ferment. Is it just the juice I used? Could it be a bad scoby (“Bad! Bad Scoby! – go outside!!”) also I brew the regular green tea kombucha next to the mate kombucha (ie the jars sit next to each other in a warm corner of the kitchen wrapped in a towel to keep the light out). Is there a chance of cross contamination if the scoby in the mate has become unbalanced? Further, if a scoby becomes unbalanced, is there a way to rehabilitate it? It’s not gone incorrigible with mold.

    • Tom says:

      Where did the pomegranate juice come from, and was it sterilized by bringing to at least 160 degrees before adding to the mix? Juices may have wild yeasts that end up infecting your brew. The off tastes are the result. Plus, I’m not too sure how fermented pomegranate juice would taste, anyway. I would think your SCOBY would be ok after a quick wash and rinse in natural vinegar.

  100. Therese says:

    I recently purchased a SCOBY from a friend and she had little ants that had gotten in the container with a little tea and the SCOBY. Do I need to worry about the ants having been in that batch? Don’t know how long they were in there. I have never made any kombucha so I am concerned. I know absolutely nothing about the process.

    How long can I keep the jar with a little tea & SCOBY in my fridge? Do I need to feed it … I have had it for a week. Thanks

  101. Mary says:

    Hi,
    My batch is looking good and a new SCOBY is forming after a few days. My older Scoby was immature and floated to the surface. Now on top of this there seems to be a beige yeast formation forming where a bit of the immature SCOBY is sticking out of the liquid. Is this Ok? or should I try to submerge it?

  102. maritza says:

    This may be a silly question but is there any alcohol(as a by product) in Kombucha? I am nursing and am a bit cautious of that but I really want to try it!

  103. Amy says:

    A good alternative to giving your babies kombucha, especially if you’re worried about the caffeine, would be water kefir. I add just a touch of fruit juice, and my one and two-year-olds love to drink it. And I’m happy knowing it’s good for their bellies.

  104. Shirley says:

    Help! Can you take a scoby out of the fridge and immediately make kombucha? I bought a bottle of GT and it had a scoby in it. I have been storing it in a bit of the kombucha in the fridge. Do I have to let it get to room tempature first? This will be my first attempt at making it.

  105. Tom says:

    The bubbles come from fermenting the sugars. Without the sugar there is nothing to ferment. I believe the SCOBY continues to ferment the resulting small amount of alcohol produced through lactic acid fermentation into acetic acid – vinegar. That is why the Kombucha has such an array of flavors – lactic acid, slight residual alcohol, and vinegar. Yummy! I want some now!!

  106. Nicole Henzel says:

    My daughter made a batch of kombucha in a plastic container. Could this be harmful to drink. It has no pva and was for punch. She is also keeping it in milk jugs after brewing.

  107. esther says:

    Hello, Can someone please answer my question…I brewed my own kombucha…looks like it was doing okay but then the baby scoby started growing mold on it…not attached to my original scoby…can I still keep my original scoby or is it contaminated? along with the kombucha?

  108. Nicholas says:

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    with people, you official document be far off from being purloined.
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  109. Anna says:

    Hi my first young scoby has dark lumpy spots throughout, and I had the bucha brewing for at least 3 weeks in a warm setting transferred to a slightly cooler setting. I see no mold and the bucha doesn’t smell bad. I have an underactive thyroid and I notice it starts to overwork (thyroid is stressed) when I’m drinking some even at first sip, I don’t drink more than 8 oz at a time. Result : it’s making me tired. Although store bought kombucha doesn’t have this effect., therefore if it was die off it would have happened with store bought too. I also am thinking it could have brewed too long bcz it has a vinegary taste now. Should I not drink any and use it for vinegar instead? I’m about to make a new scoby from it but also brewing with the young scoby with dark spots inside it not like any of the pictures u have up. Is this a tricky situation? Any thoughts? Anyone? Thanks!

  110. joy alfaro says:

    Hello!
    I’m having a really hard time deciding if my Scoby is good or not is there anyway I can email you a picture?????
    I would really appreciate it!

  111. Catherine says:

    Hi Emily,

    My question does not necessarily have to do with brewing or stating kombucha but what I have noticed recently after drinking my home brew. Previously before brewing kombucha at home, I would drink it once a week/ couple times a month, since I have been drinking a little daily for about a month now. In the last week I have noticed after drinking it I begin to get very thirsty and a little nauseated. This last for about 30-60minutes. My question is, is this my body adjusting to a more regular intake of kombucha or is my home brew too acidic, therefore causing my bodies acidity to become off balance? Looking for input as all that I find online is limited and seems very bias. Should I back of on how often I drink? I have cut back on the amount.
    Thank your for your thoughts and time.

    Catherine

    • Meghan says:

      If you get thirsty or crave more by all means drink more! My first time drinking kombycha, I drank an entire 12oz bottle in about 5 minutes and by that evening I was feeling pretty funny. Next day I felt so horribly sick it was ridiculous. When I looked it up I found out that the reason you can get sick from it if you’re not used to it is because your body’s bacteria are messed up and your body is full of toxins that haven’t detoxified, so when you drink the kombucha for the first time or in larger quantities, it kills all the bad bacteria and starts flushing out all the toxins, but the kombucha itself does not remove them from your body, it just “loosens” them, so to speak and you drink lots of water. The water is what flushes the waste out of your body after the kombucha kills it/releases it. To start with all the bad stuff is stored in your body and you don’t feel it and it just accumulates over time, but then you drink kombucha and it starts coming out of your cells and is released from it’s “confinement” in your body (detoxification), but at that point you have lots of toxins floating around in your gut making you feel terrible, until you drink water as well as the kombucha and the water removes it from you. So keep drinking kombucha. The more the better. But make sure you follow it with water! Once you’ve been “flushed out” you can drink the kombucha on it’s own, but you should still obviously drink water throughout the day just for good health anyway ;) hope this helps and I didn’t ramble too much!

      ~M

  112. Deb Cornish says:

    Hi, I grew my first Scoby and it looked awesome. Then, the cloth that was covering it fell in the bowl! the Scoby now looks clumpy. I’ve got it sitting in the tea. Can I still use it for my first batch of kambucha?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Deb – Thanks for your comment. I would still use it, but keep an eye out for any mold during the process. If that happens, toss it. Hope that helps!

  113. Megan says:

    Wow, so much great information here! I’ve been making kombucha for about a year now. The scobys (I have 3 jars) are getting thicker, of course; about an inch or so thick, I guess. The last few batches they have suddenly been bubbling up. Like a huge air bubble forms under the scoby and it rises out of the tea so almost none of it is touching the liquid. It’s like a balloon. The top starts to dry out. When I see it happening, I push it back down, but it just rises right back up again within a day. This never happened before and I’m not sure what’s wrong. Are they too thick? I’ve heard that some people let them get 3 inches thick or so. The weather is getting warmer, but it was summer when I started my first batch, so it can’t just be the temperature. Do I need to split them? I can’t find anyone who wants the extras and I don’t want them to go to waste, but I’m not sure what I should do now. Thanks a lot!

  114. Kristine says:

    Hi,
    I’ve formed my third scoby, with the 2 old one’s attached sideways underneath. This is the first time one looks odd, with a huge pocket formed in the middle. Is this okay, or do I have to throw all of them out?

    Please let me know where I can email you the picture so you can see for yourself!

    Thank you,
    Kristine

  115. Jeanne says:

    I started my very first SCOBY last Saturday, after years of drinking it from Wholefood. I started with a bottle of raw organic Kumbucha and organic green tea, organic raw sugar. I washed everything really well and put it covered on top of the fridge. I indeed have a good size SCOBY now- and the liquid it is in smells a little like vinegar . What I’m most concerned with is it has some light gray spots on it. Is this mold? Should I start over? Can I send you a photo to be sure?

  116. Anna says:

    My baby scoby has 2 very small dots of white mold on it. Like the size of a penicil eraser. My scoby mother is at the bottom of the jar. Can I scoop out the baby scoby with the mold and then keep the mother to brew again? Maybe like wash it off or something to make sure there is no mold? Or should I just throw the whole thing? I really don’t want to… It’s such a healthy mother!!!

  117. Nina says:

    We’ve been brewing Kombucha for about a year and a half and I recently made a batch and (from the many teas I have in my ‘tea cupboard’) may have used herbal tea bags. I just checked my kombucha and it had mold completely covering the top. We tried to carefully take the moldy layer off but some got into the tea. We washed our scoby with water and vinegar, but my question is how do I start my tea again? My previous batch is all gone, and I’m not sure if using some from the moldy batch will ruin the new tea so we have no good kombucha tea to restart with.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Nina – Thanks for your question. Since there was a substantial amount of mold, I would restart the process with a new scoby and fresh tea, just to be safe. Hope that helps!

  118. eunju park says:

    How can I post a photo of my scoby processing in Kombucha? Different from my first batch, it has tiny black but not round things. They are different from the dark mold spots that I see from photos above. They could be tea residue floating after a few days.

  119. Tatianna Donaldson says:

    During my pregnancy I unfortunately wanted nothing to do with Kombucha :( Now, about 10 months later I want to start up again. My scoby has been in its hotel in my dark cupboard this whole time with out maintenance.( I didn’t know, and was too sick to think about it)…. They actually look amazing, but I’m no expert… can I use these scobys now? I actually had 2 jars, and one of them looks really bad.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Tatianna – Thanks for your comment. It’s best to keep the scoby’s in the fidge when they aren’t in use. Since it’s been so long, I probably wouldn’t risk it. Hope that helps!

  120. Jackie says:

    Hi,
    I accidentally added raw ACV to my SCOBY hotel. Should I get rid of all my Scobies and start over? I have made some batches since, they seem fine and taste normal but I’m not sure if I’m drinking Kombucha or ACV.

  121. Anika says:

    Hello I have just started brewing kombucha and I am currently on my 3rd batch.

    I just noticed today that one of my scobys has a weird ‘beard’ as you called it but its colouring is a bit alarming. Its very dark greening/brown but doesn’t look like conventional mould i.e. not fuzzy, blotchy… it looks like a beard, just a lot darker than previously. Its been about 8 days since I started this brew.

    do you have any suggestions??

    Thank you!!

    Anika

  122. Teri K says:

    My last couple of batches of Kpmbucha didn’t produce babies. It tasted ok. I’m just wondering why.

    Also, I have been using 16 c. boiled water, 12 black tea bags, and 1.5 cups of white sugar. Can more sugar be used?

  123. Yelena Bogdanova says:

    Can anyone help me?!
    My scoby is not thickening/growing. I ferment it for only about 4 days and it tastes like vinegar! Impossible to drink. It’s very thin. It has developed holes in several areas. It is also very very dark brown.

  124. Kim says:

    I used to make my own Kombucha but because of moving from one country to another, I had to discard it and start all over again.
    I just grew my own SCOBY from an organic, raw, purchased bottle of Kombucha and I just started my first batch of Kombucha but I’m not sure if the SCOBY is okay. I’ve never started my very own SCOBY so I want to make sure it’s not contaminated.
    Is there somewhere I can send a picture or a video for you to let me know what you think?
    Thanks.
    ~ K

  125. tish yoder says:

    hello! I started brewing kombucha last month and don’t have a lot of options for places to brew it. I have successfully brewed in my son’s room on top of his dresser and thought i’d try my kitchen. So far both times the brew in my kitchen gets mold on the top, and this last time it got moldy only 4 days into the brew time. My first question is do you have any idea why it’s growing mold? The second question is my last brew the mother floated at the top and the new layer was attached so i threw it all away but this one the mother sank so it didn’t have the mold. is the mother bad or not and should i get rid of it since it was at the bottom and didn’t have contact with the mold?

  126. Kirsten says:

    Hi! I just made my first batch of kombucha today and I accidentally forgot to put the sugar in at first so I added it afterwards with some extra brewed tea. How long should it be before I start seeing bubbles? I want to know if I killed the Scoby.

  127. Linda says:

    Hi! I wasn’t able to use my kombucha for perhaps 6 or more weeks. When I finally got around to trying to revitalize it there were lots of fruit flies along the lid of the crock, down the sides, and on top of the Scoby. I drained and cleaned the crock, took off the fruit-fly laden top of the Scoby, and am ready to start again. I put about 3-1/2 cups of the original kombucha in the crock followed by the Scoby (still about 2″ thick. What concerns me is that I noticed a couple of very tiny worms crawling on the crock before I began dismantling. Could these be fruit fly larvae? Will this ruin my Scoby? Should I get rid of the entire Scoby and kombucha and start from scratch? Thanks so much for any advice.

  128. Laura says:

    Hi,
    someone gave me a baby 6 days ago and I have left it in the Ziploc bag since then. I am wondering if it is still ok to use. It has no discoloration or mold, still looks normal, has a little bit of reserved tea in the bag with it and I have not exposed it to too much light or temperature fluctuations. Can I still use it?

  129. Steven says:

    Hi, when making your next batch of Kombucha is it right to use the original Scoby obtained with the kit or the newly formed scoby that was created during the first batch? Thanks!

  130. paola garcia says:

    Hola, my kombucha has changed the flavor and less bubbles are being produced. What has happened, and what can i do?

    Pls help me i really love my Kombucha =)

    thanks

    paola
    mexico

    • Emily says:

      Hi Paola – It’s hard to say without seeing a picture, but your kombucha may just need to brew longer to achieve the same flavor as previous batches. Hope that helps!

  131. Julia says:

    My Kombucha is really fizzy after the initial ferment of one week. It appears that the baby SCOBY created a seal at the top of the jar. It this normal? I’ve searched the interwebs but everyone talks about not enough fizz.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Julia – This could be the result of a warmer environment, which speeds up the process. As long as you don’t see any mold, this is normal. Hope that helps!

  132. Lisa Akesson says:

    Thank you so much for this!
    I just started my second batch and the daughters grew a bit of brown threads and bubbles. I wasnt sure if it was mold or not but thanks to your beautifully revealing pictures I can assure it’s all
    Normal growth.
    Thanks once again!

  133. Leah says:

    We have been brewing our own kombucha for a little over a year now, but I do have 2 questions that have been weighing on my mind in regards to this topic. (1) Does it matter what type of sugar you use in the recipe? Refined vs. unrefined? Organic or not? And, why does it or why does it not matter? (2) Where does the caffeine come from– the tea? Our 2 YO son LOVES kombucha, but when we were giving him a small glass at a time, we could see quite the difference due to caffeine;) We have taken in back since then:)

    • Emily says:

      Hi Leah – Thanks for your questions. As for the sugar, I find it doesn’t matter since the scoby is eating the sugar, and very little is left in the end product. The caffeine content will depend on which type of tea is used. I hope that helps answer your questions!

  134. sue says:

    Hi,
    I have brewed Kombucha for some time now without any issues, and love the whole process and the results!
    However, today I have noticed something in my finished brew that I have not seen before and wondered if you could help.
    The brew was ready just over a week ago and I removed the scoby , filtered the brew into a large sterilised glass container and added my usual ginger juice. I have now noticed some thin powdery patches floating on the top of the brew, and I have not seen this before. It smells fine, and I have dared myself to try a little, and it tastes as good as ever, but I don’t know if I should throw the batch away, or carry on and use it.
    Any ideas as to what this could be and what to do about it would be gratefully appreciated.

    Thanks
    Sue

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