What people say

Kelsey of Brentwood, CA

...on Water Kefir Grains

“Love that these come fresh and not dried, so I can make kefir right away!”

Jen J. of Fergus Falls, MN

... on the USA Made Stoneware Complete Package

“I love this brewer! It is a beautiful addition to our kitchen, and it makes continuous brewing a snap! We are having a fun adventure brewing Kombucha ourselves, the only problem is keeping our little people out of it until it is ready (a problem I am happy to live with).”

Patience C. from Rhode Island

... on the Kickstarter Kombucha Kit from KKamp

“The kit was great… the scobys where very thick and healthy looking. Everything I needed to get brewing (except the vessel)… the support from Kombucha Kamp is fantastic, as is the forums on KomMunity. I was extremely happy with the kit.”

Rita P. from Minnesota

... on The Brew Now Kit

“The service is excellent, the SCOBY and starter tea made the best kombucha, and Hannah’s special tea blend is delicious.”

Edie from Charleston, SC

... on KKamp's Full Sized Kombucha Culture

“I am so happy to have found Kombucha Kamp. My SCOBY arrived super fast, and I love that it was a fresh one and I didn’t have to spend weeks rehydrating it.”

Bert Seager

... on Continuous Brew

“If you are thinking about brewing your own Kombucha – you need look no farther than this web site – and store. I live in Boston MA as far away from Hannah, the Kombucha Mamma, as you can get in the USA – yet I felt her support every step of the way.”

Jane Park

... on Continuous Brew

“I love seeing my CB kit…makes me feel like I am consciously caring for myself, which I am more convinced now than ever before that women need to do more of. My first batch was really simple, mostly due to really simply laid forth instructions.”

Alysia McDonough

... on Continuous Brew

“I love this continuous kombucha brewer. It is beyond awesome. All you have to do is make the tea and add it to the container and decant from the spigot and repeat. I don’t think it can get any easier.Also everyone loves my kombucha better than the store bought kind.”

Julie Akerman

... on Continuous Brew

“When I first started continuous brewing I was very nervous…but after getting the hang of it..I LOVE IT!!! I love that your brew is always ready to either drink right out of the spigot or to flavor for the second brewing process. The crock is beautiful sitting in my kitchen and there is virtually NO MESS!!!”

Sally Fallon

... on Continuous Brew

“I am set up with your continuous brew jug and making Kombucha again after many years. How much easier than the old method! Thanks for paving the way to getting us all making Kombucha in our kitchens again.”

Kelsey of Brentwood, CA
Jen J. of Fergus Falls, MN
Patience C. from Rhode Island
Rita P. from Minnesota
Edie from Charleston, SC
Bert Seager
Jane Park
Alysia McDonough
Julie Akerman
Sally Fallon

Kombucha Mold!

How to Identify Mold vs. Not Mold on Kombucha & What To Do Next

Argggghhhhh! The words alone strike terror into the heart of any newbie Kombucha brewer. Yet this fear is mostly unfounded as Kombucha mold is extremely rare. In many years of brewing, we RARELY EVER encounter a batch of moldy Kombucha.

Kombucha mold may grow if the brew is under-acidified or too cold.

It is always plainly obvious if one is looking and, yes, disheartening for a moment. Nobody likes to fail and the sight of fuzz on the brew is often intimidating for a moment. Yeck.

If there is one Kombucha mold warning we urge you to take seriously, it’s this one:

  • NEVER ATTEMPT TO SALVAGE A MOLDY KOMBUCHA CULTURE.If you have determined it is contaminated, THROW IT AWAY, along with whatever other cultures and liquid are present in that brewing jar. Start over with a new one, and try the tips at the end of the article to avoid Kombucha mold in the future.

However, before throwing that culture away, make sure it actually is mold. Oftentimes a newbie will mistake normal SCOBY formation or a stray tea leaf lodged in the SCOBY as mold. Feeling frustrated, they destroy a perfectly good culture out of ignorance. To avoid such a tragedy, lean down and take a closer look at MOLD (but don’t inhale!)

Okay wait…What is mold?

“Wiki-it-up:”

Molds (or moulds) are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. In contrast, microscopic fungi that grow as single cells are called yeasts. A connected network of these tubular branching hyphae has multiple, genetically identical nuclei and is considered a single organism, referred to as a colony.

Molds do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping, but can be found in the divisions Zygomycota, Deuteromycota and Ascomycota. Some molds cause disease or food spoilage, others play an important role in biodegradation or in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics and enzymes.

~Wikipedia

Obviously then, Kombucha is somewhat related to mold. Single cell mold is called yeast, which of course is the ‘Y’ in SCOBY. In fact, the most literal translation of the Chinese characters for Kombucha might be “red mold tea.”

However, the type of mold we are discussing here is definitely to be avoided. The most typical types of mold that may infest a Kombucha culture are the same as those you would find on bread or fruit or other decaying food items. While not deadly, they do produce an off-taste and can cause allergic reactions or sickness.

Kombucha Mold Identification

Here are some photos of moldy Kombucha cultures.

Bright blue and green circles of Kombucha mold form on a SCOBY.
Major case of Kombucha Mold – yech!
Clear circles of mold form on top of a new Kombucha brew - likely from being cold.
Those blue circles of mold are the problem, while the white circles of SCOBY growth are normal.
Dry tan powder mold forms on a Kombucha SCOBY
Powdery tan mold covers much of a new SCOBY – mold is always DRY!
White fuzzy dry mold is easy to spot.

What do you notice about these pics? What color is the mold? Where is the mold located? What texture is the mold?

Almost all Kombucha mold is:

      • blue, black, green, or white/tan & very dry and/or fuzzy
      • located on top of the culture – not under it nor embedded in a layer
      • looks exactly like the type you have seen your whole life on foods

The FULL GALLERY of Kombucha Mold or Kahm Yeast Photos:

Trust your instincts. But remember…

– Kombucha Mold CANNOT FORM BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE BREW –

If you see something strange under the liquid, it is likely yeast. If you have any question or doubt, you can always submit a photo via the Contact Page for an opinion.

But my SCOBY looks funny! Is it the dreaded Kombucha Mold?

Now, just because it is not moldy, that doesn’t mean your SCOBY will form in a perfect smooth pancake. The shape and color of your newly growing cultures is not necessarily indicative of the quality of your brew. Odd looking cultures can make a fantastic tasting kombucha, and great looking ones can fail.

Depending on many factors, SCOBY formation can be quite unusual looking yet completely normal. Sort of like people. (Kombucha and people are very similar in many ways. Don’t get me started.)

Here are some photos of normal SCOBY formation and yeastie bits (and there are TONS more in the galleries right below!).

Brown areas of yeast may embed below the surface of a forming Kombucha SCOBY but is not mold.
Strands of yeast can embed in the new Kombucha culture as it forms a layer on the brew.
Brownish yellow cobweb like strands of yeast - which are not Kombucha mold - form in the liquid and often cling to the bottom of the Kombucha SCOBY mother.
Yeast strands are brown and sometimes clumpy, but when underneath the surface can never be mold.
Yellowish yeast collects under the surface of a new SCOBY forming on Kombucha.
This Kombucha brew may be cold, causing collections of yeast under the new SCOBY growth, but there is no mold.
Early SCOBY formation takes a variety of shapes – the many dots will gradually all connect.

More “Not Mold” Examples

Click on a photo below to open a gallery with more example images.

To the untrained eye, these odd looking formations can seem startling at first, but over time, they become the familiar process of new SCOBY growth. This is why we instruct newbies not to look at or disturb their Kombucha for at least 7 days.

Why does Kombucha Mold occur in the first place?

To better understand, let’s review the brewing process. The standard recipe for Kombucha calls for a 90% nutrient solution of sweet tea and 10% Mature KT starter liquid. That starter liquid is the key to protecting the culture from mold.

This mature Kombucha Tea has a pH of 3.5-2.5, low enough to create a natural anti-microbial barrier which inhibits the growth of any foreign micro-organisms. The starter liquid acts as a protective layer until the entire sweet tea mixture is converted to young Kombucha (about 3 days), defined as when the mixture’s pH drops to 3.5 or below. It is only during that approximately 3-day period that there is the potential for mold to grow.

Mold spores are not visible to the human eye and can lay dormant or survive in extreme conditions. That is why it is NEVER RECOMMENDED to simply wash off the culture in water or vinegar.

Once again: if you do end up with mold, get rid of your culture along with all other cultures and liquid from that batch and start over fresh from your SCOBY Hotel.

How can I prevent Kombucha Mold?

If you find you are getting mold repeatedly, you are in unfortunate rare company. Unfortunately there is likely something in the environment that is contributing to the problem. Is the water clean? If you aren’t sure, boil it without a lid for 10 minutes. If the vessel has a spigot, it must be removed and sterilized as mold can hide inside.

Some other causes for mold include cross-pollination from house plants, cigarette smoke, excessive humidity and cold temperatures (keep cultures out of the fridge!).

Tips to prevent Kombucha Mold from recurring:

      • Use starter liquid from the SCOBY Hotel (or any very old Kombucha)
      • If you don’t have strong starter liquid, use more of your regular starter per batch or
      • Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar on top of the brew (never raw vinegar)
      • Use a heating mat or other warming method during cold months
      • Remove house plants from the vicinity
      • Make sure there is plenty of air flow – open the cupboard or move to a counter top
      • Do not expose to cigarette smoke

Over time you will discover that mold is very rare and easy to spot. There is definitely no need to fear mold – or new SCOBY formation. The more you observe your culture, the more you will understand its unique process!

Happy Brewing!

————
The Kombucha Mold series:
Moldy Kombucha SCOBYs and Early Mold Formations on Kombucha Brews
Kahm Yeast on Kombucha Brew – Likely Contamination
Healthy Kombucha SCOBY Growth including Unusual Kombucha SCOBYs
Normal Formations on Flavored or Bottled Kombucha
Kombucha Bubbles and Carbonation Forming In the Brew
Normal JUN Tea Sediment at the Bottom of Brewing Jar
Normal Kombucha Yeast Collections on Top of the Brew or Embedded in New SCOBY
Normal Kombucha Yeast Floating in the Liquid and Under the SCOBY Surface
Young Normal Kombucha SCOBY and Yeast Growth


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