Top 5 Signs of a Healthy Kombucha Brew

Brewing Kombucha at home is a fun and easy process. Like most hobbies, the more you brew, the greater your skillset.

However, to the newbie, the Kombucha brewing process can be fraught with uncertainty, mostly due to lack of information. Oftentimes the mere sight of the culture alone is enough to inspire shudders of revulsion to the uninitiated. With experience comes familiarity but first you must learn to “speak Kombucha.” Heck – you might end up like me, singing to your cultures and calling them your Boochie Babies! Coochie coo Boochie boo!

Since the SCOBY can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, it can be easy to mistake a healthy brew for a science experiment gone awry. However, using the guidelines below, you too will be able to recognize the 5 signs of a healthy Kombucha brew.

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Kombucha smell

Kombucha has its own special smell that longtime brewers will immediately recognize. The signature sweet-sour smell of Kombucha wafting from the brewer is a unique delight. It may take a couple of days for the smell to appear but it is unmistakable once you learn it. Sometimes described as fermented or beerlike, it also has notes of vinegar and a slightly sour pungency that indicates a healthy KT. If you store your KT in a smaller room, you may notice the smell is stronger than when stored in a more open space. 

TRY THIS – Smell your batch everyday and taste it too. You will quickly learn how to detect how much sugar is present with just your nose.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Does your brew smell like rotten eggs? Check your water source. Some municipal and well water sources may contain sulpher producing bacteria that can create a ‘rotten egg’ smell.

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One of the most obvious signs of a health Kombucha brew is the formation of a new SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast – often referred to as a “baby”). While SCOBY growth will vary with the seasons due to differences in temperature, air pressure and the like, the culture is hardy and is constantly reproducing as part of its survival strategy. SCOBYs do not miraculously appear fully formed, but grow in gradually until the entire surface area of the brewing vessel is covered. This survival strategy creates a seal which slows down evaporation and allows for the anaerobic fermentation to occur.

Since Kombucha is of nature (as we are) it follows the seasons. In the summer, the Kombucha ferments very quickly and SCOBY growth is more rapid. In the winter when the temperature is cooler, SCOBY growth will still be present but may be much thinner. It can also take longer for the brewing cycle at this time of year.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Remember! Taste is King. Let your tongue be the ultimate tester rather than your eyes because you may have a delicious Kombucha even if there is thin SCOBY growth.”

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Since the culture is a symbiosis of both bacteria (the SCOBY itself) and yeast (the brown strands), it is important that both are in balance. In the early stages, before the culture has fully formed, you may notice yeast congregating at the top of your brew. They look like brown strands or clumps (or a brain!) that eventually attach themselves to the underside of the culture or fall to the bottom of the vessel when they expire. Some confuse the yeast blooms for mold because beneath the newly forming culture they may look bluish or black.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “If you still aren’t sure if you have mold or normal culture growth, take a look at these Kombucha mold photos or send a photo to Kombucha Kamp and we will help you identify what you are seeing.”

Again, balance is key – so you want to have some yeast, but not too much. For that reason, it is important to always use starter liquid from the top of your brew where it is bacteria rich. Only using starter from the bottom of your vessel may result in “beery” Kombucha. Check out this article on balancing yeast and bacteria in Kombucha if you suspect yours is out of balance.

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One of the Kombucha culture’s most important defense mechanisms is its low pH. The average pH of properly fermented Kombucha tea is 3.2-2.5. The high acidity prevents other potentially harmful microorganims from colonizing the culture. In fact, the bacteria and yeast work so well together, that they kill other harmful bacteria on contact. Although making Kombucha at home seems daunting, it is actually quite safe.

TIP! Use a pH meter to monitor your brew’s progress.

However, pH will not indicate that your brew is ready to drink as it will often reach the desired pH within the first 3 days of brewing. Therefore, you need to use your taste buds to tell you when your brew is ready. Remember, the longer it ferments, the more sugar is converted and the tarter the flavor. Bottle conditioning will mellow the flavor.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Although Kombucha’s pH is low, once it hits the body’s digestive system, it has an alkalizing effect, like vinegar & lemon juice.”

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A freshly brewed batch of starter tea can be quite dark, depending on what type of tea you use. Tannins give tea its color and astringency.

As the culture goes about its business of converting sugar into healthy acids, the tannins are also converted. This causes the color of the tea liquor* to gradually lighten, shifting from dark brown to a lighter tan color.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Remember! If you are using green or white tea, the color shift may not be as dramatic but will still be noticeable.”
*Tea liquor is the term used to refer to the liquid created when tea is added to water.
There is no alcohol in tea liquor.

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Learning to “speak Kombucha” is a fun and informative process. Use a notebook to jot down your observations. Remember – Kombucha is a living organism and as such will not behave exactly the same from batch to batch, month to month. Learning to recognize these signs will help you adjust your process throughout the year to harmonize with the seasons.

What other signs have you noticed?
Leave a comment below! :)

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +
Kombucha Mamma SCOBYs & Kits ship free in the US!
119 Responses to Top 5 Signs of a Healthy Kombucha Brew
  1. Laura Dyer Sienkiewicz via Facebook

    All 5 signs here :)

  2. Barb Hughes via Facebook

    getting ready to set up my CB ! so excited

  3. Tawnya Howell via Facebook

    Thanks. Looks like my kombucha is doing well.

  4. Back from TX, gone for 15 days and was concerned the KT would not do well. Poured half off and restarted with some new tea and sugar. SCOBY looks great! It is really growing, I have given a baby away already. Can’t wait to start flavoring again.

  5. Karen Andrews via Facebook

    Yummy just keep that mother ship out of my mouth

  6. lacrecia turlington

    first time brewing not sure looks moldy but yeasty im i on right track or should i start over?

  7. LaMyra Morton via Facebook

    I went without using mine for SCOBYs for several months and have been back to brewing for several weeks, but I am not getting the healthy SCOBY growth across the top. It is carbonating and seems to taste alright, but I let it get too strong waiting for the visible growth. Will it eventually start forming the SCOBYs again or should I be looking for a fresh start?

    • Andra

      Tomorrow will be day 7 of my first batch. Everything seems to be going well except that the SCOBY that has formed on the top is diffuse, not solid looking like the initial. Will I be able to pick it up? Should I let it go longer?

      • It will thicken up the longer you brew it. Taste to see if the KT is to your liking. You can always keep the baby & momma together for the next batch.

  8. LaMyra Morton how did you store the scobys when you weren’t using them?

  9. Awesome article hannah!

  10. LaMyra Morton via Facebook

    In the refrigerator in tea, but I’m back to forget to feed it with new sugar.

  11. LaMyra Morton via Facebook

    *bad, not back

  12. We had a feeling that’s how you stored them – the reason for no healthy SCOBY growth is your bacteria are dormant – You should not be storing SCOBYs in the fridge – that is a common piece of misinformation – here is our article on the subject. We recommend getting a new starter: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/10/kombucha-brewing-problems-dehydrated-and-refrigerated-scobys.html

  13. LaMyra Morton via Facebook

    Thank you.

  14. lacrecia turlington

    im having agreat time with my scoobys working on #3 its sooooooyummy thanks momma!

  15. Gay

    Just drank some of my first batch. The flavor was good. It had a slightly yeasty aroma but not flavor. Is this normal? Thanks!

  16. Colleen Quigley via Facebook

    How funny. I just sat down with a nice wine glass full of Kombucha to look through FB.

  17. Dawn Keeler

    I am new to brewing and my first two batches taste great but I could not get the pH to drop to 3 – it just hung around 4 and I eventually poured off because the brew was getting too vinegary. I am using paper pH strips. Would a pH meter be better?

  18. cynthia speer

    I’m so excited to be brewing my own kombucha! When I started flavoring, I began to notice a little clear blob, kind of like jello in my bottles, sometimes adhering to the spices or whatever flavoring agents I am using. I feel it is safe, even healthful to ingest these (little scoby’s?) I hope so…it feels VERY healing! Also, I’ve already begun to give some of my kombucha away, for health purposes to the recipient. Thanks Hannah, for making this easier on so many people!

    • Yes! Those are baby SCOBYs growing. I just open up and throw them down the hatch – yum! PS You are so welcome! I’m just excited to share all this great info with everyone – so THANK YOU Cynthia!!

  19. Great list! I can always tell my ‘boochies are happy when I hear them bubbling and gurgling!

  20. Hi Hanna, my booch and scoby are picture perfect. your instructions made it really easy to do and I am so glad you posted pics of what mold looks like so i could be on the lookout for it. not bad for a newbie. I love the contiuous brew method. i am going to try single batches next.

  21. Cat

    I used your awesome directions to set up a Kombucha continuous brew system because we love it so much. I have 3 mothers in separate gallon jars in process and 2 in a ‘hotel’.

    Today was ‘booch’ day and my oldest (about 5 weeks) has begun to make more vinegary/less sweet booch than the two newer SCOBYs. The color of the SCOBY is also darker. Do you think it time to replace it?

    We’re having so much fun flavoring and the secondary fermentation adds just the right fizz. Thanks so much for your great instructions.
    Cat >^.-.^<

  22. The lifespan of a SCOBY is typically 10 brewing cycles or until it doesn’t reproduce any longer. The tannins in the tea gradually turn the culture darker. Culture that tears easily is weak and ought to be disposed of – either in the compost or the trash.

  23. Linda

    I have a scooby that was sitting for a couple of weeks without being covered in liquid. It is now very firm is it still good? And how long does the tea last once it is in the fridg. Thanks Hannah have so enjoy your knowledge and energy.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Linda =) As long as your culture hasn’t gone to mold, then it MIGHT be okay. Give it a shot and see what results. If you end up with mold, you’ll have to start with a fresh culture. The tea can be stored in the fridge indefinitely. Kombucha never “goes bad” but the flavor may continue to change over time. Trust your gut and if it doesn’t taste right, then toss it.

  24. annalee

    Hannah Genius,
    i apologize and im sure you’ve answered this question already, i study your site i promise but you are sooo efficient at educating all the different aspects of brewing that sometimes there are too many answers to root through! i was just wondering, since i can’t afford a continuous brewer at the moment and make individual batches out of gallon glass jars…..to great success…. could i theoretically not separate the mommas and babies let a jar just grow a fairly giant scoby in one jar….would that speed up the process….as in…allow me to turn the sweet tea into kombucha at a quicker rate due to the larger size of the scoby, obviously taking the same precautions to ensure the proper starter liquid proportions..etc? just wondering….
    thanks busy lady.
    love and gratitude.
    annalee

    • Yes – a mammoth culture will speed the process – to a point. When it gets too thick, then it prevents enough oxygen from getting to the liquid beneath and will not ferment properly.

      • Carroll

        I was wondering if anyone can tell how you know if your scoby is dead….I am only on my 2nd batch of tea, but my scoby got really huge and was bulging up out of the top of the jar. I finally pushed it back down into the tea but I’m not sure if it got dried out or not. Now it’s kind of a dark color and my batch of tea doesn’t seem to be very fermented. Any ideas?
        Thanks for your help
        Carroll

        • There are many factors that influence the taste of your brew. The dark color is due to the tannins in the tea – the longer the SCOBY is in the brew, the darker it gets. In terms of not being very fermented, this time of year, when the temps drop, it is difficult for the SCOBY to ferment properly unless a heat source is used. The ideal temp is 75-85 with 80 being a sweet spot. Here are the heaters we use for our SCOBYS!

  25. Denise

    Hi Hannah,
    I love your website. It has been very informative. My question for you is. I am on day 5 of my Kombucha brewing and my scoby has not floated to the top. Is that okay that it hasn’t floated to the top? I’ve read usually by day 3 or so it should have already floated to the top. Otherwise everything looks like as you describe on your website & utube videos. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Sink or swim – the mother culture can be anywhere in the vessel. The new layer will always grow across the top.

  26. Diana Serres

    I let my kombucha brew for 4 weeks and now it tastes pretty much like vinegar. Is it still healthy to drink?

  27. sharon rosenberg

    how do you adjust the PH of KT–my first brew is between 3.0–3.5–taste great but concerned that my second ferment may not do well because of the high PH because I added fruit.

    • You are in the right range, Sharon. Use more starter liquid for your next batch to help lower the pH more quickly.

  28. Elizabeth

    Hello. I’m currently brewing my first batch of kombucha. It appears bubbly, and there doesn’t seem to be any mold. However, it smells very “yeasty.” I’m just wondering if this is normal. Thanks!

    • Yes! The SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria AND yeast!

    • TONY LAVICTOIRE

      Bonjour. Thanks for the info about rotten smell being associated with the presence of sulphur in water – which is definitely present in our spring water – Does it affect the quality of the Kombucha and is it fine drinking it?
      Thanks!

      • It should be fine to drink, but we cannot say for certain – Trust YOUR Gut!

  29. My Kombucha is so dark. It has been brewing a little over 3 weeks and hasn’t lightened up. Is that normal? Can I use Organic brown sugar?

    • Depends on what kind of tea you used, and other factors. If it has reproduced, is at the appropriate pH (2.5-3.2) and tastes like Kombucha, then you are good to go! If you detect mold or the pH isn’t correct and it is still too sweet, then you might want to start over with a fresh culture.

  30. Dear Hannah,
    Wonderful information through your website, still in reading progress.

    * Would like to find out what should I do with many bubbles in my jar brew whose partially uplift the floating scoby – just the thinner side of new scoby is lifted above the liquid by the generated air/gas which collects under in a form of large bubble. Should I gently push it back down? As I went to empty the finished brew, I noticed that about 20 – 30% of the scoby wasn’t floating in the teat.

    * It started to happen only when I got new jar of larger diameter, the new/thinner scoby covering the extra surface is still too thin or light (in mass sense.) It is second brew in the new jar and still the same thing. The temperature in room is higher due to summer season here therefore perhaps more active fermentation is happening.

    * Looking at it now, 2nd day of the new brew, it’s lifted again and heaps bubbles around. Thank you.

    With compliments.

    Rado

    • Yes, gently pushing it back into the liquid is the best way to deal with the bubbles – just means your brew is happy!

      • Just to let you know that the problems disappeared. I did push/dip the thinner scoby side, 2 times per day, into the liquid to remove the bubbles. After about a week the lifting stopped. Now the scoby is nice and thick on the whole surface. Got a few brews already.

  31. ashley

    My newest batch of kombucha grew what I thought was a thin layer of mold on top. It was extremely wrinkly looking like brains, and it was greyish whiteish, it didnt look like my regular kombucha. It looked just like mold I have seen on my other vegetable ferments. It covered the entire surface area of the tea.I had 2 large jars going, and as these were my last 2 scobys I decided I would try and save them. One was sweetened with regualar sugar and the other with coconut sugar.(I was experimenting) When I went to scrape the mold off I discovered that it didnt seem like mold at all either. It was tougher, and I could pick it up in 1 whole layer.Im thinking it was a weird scoby.I am wondering, have you seen really wrinkly scobys form and if so, since I just removed it, can I assume another 1 will grow in its place a.nd save the day The tea is still sweet and its been going for about an week and a half. Im saving the crud in a jar just in case. Thanks so much. Ashley

  32. marcia

    I think you mentioned using liquid from the top on number 3. I thought the benefit of using your continuous brew was the convenience of using the tap, which would remove the tea from the bottom. Will you please explain this to me as I am trying to decide if I want your CB system or not. I hope I can figure out how to get back here. I have never commented or asked a question in this type of forum before.

    • We use the liquid from the top of the brew to start our next batch in the batch brew process. In CB, we only drain a portion of the liquid from the vessel and then add more sweet tea. Since we are leaving a majority of already fermented Kombucha as starter for the next batch, there will be more bacteria present to help maintain the balance. We ship cultures and kits all over the world!

  33. Kimlee Bublitz

    Hannah, should you remove the baby after it is formed or allow it to keep forming batch after batch. I am using the continuous brew method and I feel I am over growing these babies. Just wondering. I keep 2 continuous batches going. Thanks for this site, Kimlee

  34. Daryl

    I just finished my first ever batch of KT. It tasted fine, but I did not get a baby scoby.
    I also noticed my tea was not very dark when I brewed my 5 tsp of black tea. Maybe I need to add more tea leaves. I am on to my second batch of KT.

  35. Maggie

    Hi there! I’m on my 3rd batch of kombucha and this time I used coconut sugar. It is still very dark 3 weeks later and smells baaaaad. Like poo- I’m so bummed (no pun intended)- Should I dump it? Can I reuse the Scoby?

    • Provided there is no visible mold, then go ahead and give it a taste. If its as bad as it looks, let it go and start fresh. If you have no other cultures, then reuse this one, otherwise, just grab a fresh one from your SCOBY Hotel and try again.

  36. Fred

    I have been making three simultaneous brews of Kombucha every two weeks over the past year and haven’t had a bad brew. Occassionally a portion of my newly growing baby scoby gets lifted above the liquid by a carbonation bubble. The part of the scoby above the tea line appears to dry out and turns dark brown. Should I push the carbonation out from under the baby scoby or just not worry about it. Brew has been great every time whether this happens or not.

  37. lyn

    why has my bottled kombucha turned cloudy was clear when bottled

    • The yeast like an anaerobic environment. As they reproduce, they may cause more sediment to be produced creating a cloudier look. Kombucha continues to ferment, even in the bottle.

  38. may

    how often can you drink it and for how long
    thanks

    • Trust YOUR gut! We recommend 4-8oz 1-3x a day. Your body will tell you how much to drink by how much it craves the booch. Drink plenty of water to help flush any toxins released. Some folks experience a healing crisis. If you do, cut back the amt of KT, increase your water and listen to your body.

  39. Annie Wagner

    I have been brewing for about a month now with the continuous method in a 2+ gallon glass jar. I have two questions. My Scoby is very thick but I cannot differentiate (sp?) a baby. Also the scoby has some holes in the body of it. Should I not have a baby by now? Also, #2. Booch seems to be too vinegary. I have reduced the brew time to no more that 2 days after adding the new tea. What can I do to reduce the vinegary taste? It is quite stron. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • Highly recommend grabbing our Complete Handbook as it covers CB in depth. Every time a layer is disturbed, it stops growing and a new layer starts. In CB, when you add your top off tea, that creates a SCOBY with many layers. The tart flavor is indicative that it is time to clean your brewer, remove the spent yeast (you can make a sourdough starter with it) and trim your culture. Full instructions are included in the handbook.

  40. Jbermo

    Now on day 8 of my first batch of continuous brew. My brew is now approxomating that of GT Kombucha (my goal).

    But I am curious as to what would happen if the tea used to refill the crock for my next batch was only half as sweet? Would longer brew time occur if next tea added was half sweet?

    • We don’t recommend pulling more than 25% from the CB for the first month of brewing – that ensures you are able to build up enough strong starter liquid for the CB process to work properly. After about a month, you will be able to take up to 50% from your vessel.

  41. Brenda

    I am still new to all this. I’ve made 5 batches so far. I only recently learned, via your website, to let it sit 2-3 days to ferment. Hopefully I’ll start tasting some fizz. None of my tea has been the same and I can’t figure out yet which one is the perfect batch. I’ve had too sweet, too tart, like vinegar, and everything in between. Are the health benefits pretty much the same whether tart or sort of sweet? I let it brew at least 7 days.

    Also, could the yeast cause problems to people prone to candida? I’m not that I know of…just curious.

    • Experimentation is half the fun of brewing Kombucha. Keeping a log (there’s one in the back of the Complete Handbook) will help you track which flavor combos/types of tea/brewing times produce the flavors you prefer. The yeast that cause candida are different from those in Kombucha. In the natural world – like controls like – the healthy yeast of Kombucha has helped many candida sufferers reduce their sugar cravings. Every body will react differently so remember to Trust YOUR gut!

  42. Jean Iverson

    I love my Bucha but It does not love a nomadic life style! I traveled 600+miles to our mountain retreat with 1 gal & 2 2gal brews. all scobys fell to the bottom & stayed there for about 8 days one large one has reached the top, small one is half way up. Besides the moving the mountain cold has really affected it–night tempertures 30°. But it is Bucha now! Love it.

  43. Kim

    My CB is too vinegary…suggestions? dump it all out and start over?

    • Simply drain a portion of the sour stuff out, add fresh sweet tea and then taste daily until it has the flavor you like.

  44. Robin

    I just poured my first batch! It is perfect, with some fizz straight up! I mixed up three different flavors, lemon/ginger, tart cherry/ginger, blueberry/ginger. For now I’m just doing 1 gal. continuous brew. I may have to dig out my 2.5 gal. soon.
    Thank you for your site and showing me how easy it is to do the continuous brewing. It feels good to be drinking again. My SCOBY looks so healthy and it grew nicely! Now off to buy some of your special tea to brew!

  45. Nelle

    How do you tell the “mother” from the “baby” ?

    • kkadmin

      Baby is on top of the Mother. The new layer always grows across the top.

  46. Mallory

    My scoby is forming on the bottom! OOPS! Is this OK? What should I do?? I swear I placed the scoby in the tea once it was room temp.. Should I just leave the scoby on bottom? Any help is MUCH appreciated :)
    Thank you!

    • The mother may have sunk but the new SCOBY will always grow across the top. After some time, you may notice that the mother has risen to the top of the brew – this is due to the CO2 created by the fermentation process. Happy Brewing!

  47. Jim Hargis

    I have a four gallon contentious brew
    . my scoby has grown over time to around three inches. will it hurt not to separate it? thanks Jim

    • You will want to trim it at some point as Kombucha needs oxygen to ferment. If the culture is too thick, it will prevent the yeast from getting the oxygen it needs to ferment properly.

  48. Talia

    My Scoby seems to be fine: nice bege, even color. But, being overwhelmed with a lot of things going on, I didn’t bottle it and brew a new one for about 4 weeks and didn’t see that about a quarter of Kombucha evaparated and the Scoby wasn’t floating in a liquid. There no mold or bad smell. I wonder if it is safe to use?

    • It may do just fine but you won’t know until you try to brew with it. Typically, as long as the culture is submerged in liquid, it will remain viable. If you get mold with your first or 2nd batch, then toss and start with a fresh culture.

  49. Hi Hannah, new on KommUnity, and reading all comments. All very informative. Something to learn every day. I just learned from one of your posts that a SCOBY typically lives 10 brewing cycles. I did not know that. In fact I’m on my 20th brewing cycle with my CB #2. I have split one scoby, but thought that was just to make room in jar. Should I be breaking apart the scobies as per your DIY guide after 10 cycles? Thanks for your time. I know how busy you are!!

    • When you go in to clean your vessel, that is the perfect time to trim the SCOBY. This will give your brew more oxygen and balance the fermentation process.

  50. Linda

    Hi Hannah: I am having a problem with my kombucha. It seems to have lost its “zing”. It takes weeks to even start a little of the fermentation. I use the heating unit as our house is colder in the summer than the winter. They (5 jars) have a little of the baby on top but not like when we first started. We are into our fifth or sixth cycle. Do I need to start all over again? I have 2 scobys in the scoby hotel.

    • My first thought is that the starter liquid is coming from the bottom where all the yeast live which will suppress the SCOBY growth. Are you pulling it from the top or the bottom? The brewing cycle does ebb and flow with the seasons, even with a heater, so it could just need more time to ferment. More details about your brewing process will facilitate trouble shooting.

  51. Deb

    I’m a newbie and I just started my kombucha Saturday and noticed today there was something black growing on the bottom of my scoby. I took it off & threw it away. It looked like a black clam. Do you think it’s mold and do you think I should throw everything away & start over?

  52. Liting

    I’ve been brewing my kombucha for about a few months. Some success and some failed. What is the ratio to reserve kombucha to new batch? And how come I can’t get my scoby to be thicker then a thin transparent disc. The only time I ever got a thick scoby was when I bought a bottle of GT’s kombucha and pour that in a bottle to grow my first scoby, ever since that I can’t get a thick scoby? And my second question is, what is the best way to store my unused scoby and how long can I store it for and does the whole scoby need to be submerge in kombucha?

  53. Rose Marie

    Help please. I made several batches of awesome kombucha! Then I decided to switch over to a continual brewing system with a 2.5 gallon glass infusion jar. I noticed all of a sudden my brew seemed acidic and by the end of the day sipping a bottle throughout, it felt like bile in my throat! My scoby looked fine, no mold, and looked to be healthy and growing. The smell was stronger. I added one original GT kombucha because I read somewhere you could ‘ correct’ your brew that way. After two days, it doesn’t smell or taste as strong. However, I just bought ph strips and it is at 6! Any thoughts or advice?

  54. Mariah

    Hi! I acquired my Scoby from a friend, and almost immediately it split off a small sliver and created a new Scoby! The origial one likes to hang low in my gallon jar, while the new one is always found at the durface. I check on them regularly to make sure nothing concerning is going on, but the new one sure is interesting: It thickened up a lot more than the original, and has grown a thin veil around the edges, while it’s uneven and not flat like a pancake.

    My Kombucha tastes great, and we make a 1/2 gallon every 3-4 days (and drink it near-constantly), but as this 2nd scoby matures will it begin to look more uniform, or is it just becoming whatever it becomes? Honestly, it does what it does and it stays pretty happy. I feed it, and it makes yummy Kombucha and we’re all satisfied overall. Am I being too over-analysing?

    Thanks!

  55. pat salem

    this is my second brewing, my first went ok, but I was gone 4 wks. when I got home I made more tea, and poured it in the 2 gallon container that was about 1/2 full….I waited a wk.and it was so tart i couldn’t drink it, but I dilute it with water or use ice…my question is, a new scoby has started to form on top, and attached to one side of the jar, now when I use the bottom tap to get some juice, it is pulling the scoby on that side that it is stuck to and leaving some on the jar as it goes down….is that ok or should I try to move the scoby stuck to the jar back into the liquid to be joined with the new scoby…….hope this makes sense…thanks, Pat

    • Just push the SCOBY down so that it is in contact with the liquid.

  56. Amaris

    Thank you very much, this has been helpful to me.

  57. Shelly

    I have just started my first batch 3 days ago and am so excited…it looks clean, the scoby in the bottom looks like it is getting slimy…and the PH is at 3.2. It smells a little sweet and vinegary today…..should I taste it, or is it too early. I am so excited to try this…I also have some vegetables fermenting also…..wish me luck!

    • Taste is King. Frequent tasting will help you calibrate your palate so that you find the flavor of KT that you like best.

  58. Candace @ Candida Free Candee

    Great information, thank you! I am on my first batch and I was so lost as to how to judge it’s “doneness”. This is a big help!

  59. Dana

    Hanna,
    Iv’e been brewing for several months after purchasing a continuous brewing system from someone. The first few batches turned out great with new thick tan colored scobies forming. It took only 5 days to get a nice scoby. Lately though, the scobies are thin and translucent and it has been taking much longer to brew. Now after day 7 my pH is 3.3 to 3.5 (brewing 3- 1 gallon jars). I’m thinking its ready to bottle regardless of the look of my scoby. Am I correct?

    • Yes – it is ready to bottle when the KT tastes good to you. The SCOBYs will ebb and flow which is why TASTE is king =)

  60. Jessica

    Help! I have a couple of scobys that I haven’t used in several months (probably since March). They’ve been sitting in covered containers of kombucha, in a dark cabinet, sealed. Are they still healthy, or should I start over?

    Thanks!
    Jessica

    • One way to find out – brew with em and see how it turns out!

  61. Ali

    The yeast that is on the bottom side of my scoby is more of a greenish colour than brown! It looks just like the brown yeast but different coloured. Is this ok? My judgement is telling me that it probably is but I’m curious! It’s not mold if it’s growing on the bottom of the scoby, in the tea, right? My kombucha seems to be turning out great otherwise! Thank you so much more all of your wisdom!

    • Its on the bottom – its yeast. The yeast can range in color from green to black. Mold ONLY occurs on TOP of the culture – never underneath.

  62. Shelly

    I just brewed a couple of batches…questioning whether the scoby is still good….in the second ferment (lemon and ginger was added) it bubbled really nicely…..would it still get fizzy if the scoby didn’t work?

  63. bob

    Having made KT for years, I am still learning from your website. Take inoculant from top of finished brew. That’s new.
    When starting the very first brew, does KT have to adjust to environment before it gets lively? My brews have begun to start with a cobweb type of filigree down in the liquid that rises to the surface and forms the scoby.

    • Yes, it can take a few brewing cycles for the culture to micro adapt to its new environment and substrate. If within a few batches you don’t experience robust culture or Kombucha, then you may need to start fresh.

  64. Nancy C

    My finished product is cloudy and murky. The flavor is a bit bitter, and the scoby hasn’t risen to the top of the jar the last couple of brews. My scoby hotel is also very murky but the scobies seem healthy.

    • Sounds like too much yeast. Are you taking your starter liquid from the top of the previous batch or just leaving some in the bottom of the jar? The bottom of the jar is where the yeastie bits congregate and can get the brew out of balance if the starter isn’t taken from the top. Filter to remove the particles and start a fresh batch.

  65. shelly Snider

    I have a not brewed my tea in 3 weeks is it okay to use the same mother again for my next batch? My first batch was great and love the results.

  66. Jonnie Kropp

    I just wanted to thank you for all the great info. I’ve been brewing for almost a year. Your advice has been indispensable.

  67. Josh

    Hi there! I’m making my first Kombucha batch ever and the baby is pretty thin. I know that’s probably ok, and it looks pretty healthy, but it’s incredibly bubbly and is actually broken up by tons of little bubbles. Is that a sign that I used too much sugar? Where is the added carbonation coming from?

    • Carbonation is a normal by-product of the fermentation process. It is created by the yeast when it consumes the sugar. Thin SCOBY growth is often a sign of a cold brew. Here are some heating ideas to get that culture working.

  68. Sharon SCHELL

    I am in the 3rd day of my first batch. I have reading everything I can get my hands on about Kombucha. However some articles say 3 days and the next 6. What do you recommend?

    • Taste is king. Taste frequently and decant when it has the flavor YOU prefer best. For some that’s early in the process and for others, that’s 30+ days. Trust YOUR Gut!

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Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

How does it work?

By changing the starting ratio from…
1 Part KT:9 Parts Starter (orignial method)
to
3 Parts KT:1 PART Starter Liquid (CB method)
…the brewing cycle is dramatically reduced (just 1-2 days to complete).

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

What about the Sugar?

Your colony of bacteria and yeast will be hungry and will very quickly process the small amount of sugar into mature KT.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I don’t want to take on more work.

Actually, CB results in less work.  One example: a more streamlined bottling experience, without the need to lift your brewing vessel, clean it every week or deal with the mess afterwards.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I can customize the flavor?

Sure, just drain mature KT and add starter liquid to taste.  Or for bottles, flavor as desired – no funnel, no mess!

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

It’s actually healthier?

So says Michael Roussin and experts worldwide.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

Will I have too much Kombucha?

Not at all.  Having it on tap will change your perspective.  Plus, you’ll find friends, family and neighbors eyeing your Kombucha set-up with envy and maybe even helping themselves to a fresh glass.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

Really? You’re telling me it’s fun?

Yes.  With a straight face.  It is.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

I’m nervous. Is it hard?

Don’t be nervous.  You have the experience of hundreds of homebrewers backing you up in the form of my detailed instructions and maintenance plan.  You will be guided along the way.  You will save time and effort.

Posted in: Continuous Brew mini-FAQ