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Ask The Kombucha Mamma

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Raising Your Hand to ask a questionWhile brewing Kombucha at home is safe and easy, certain questions tend to come up again and again.

If you’ve been brewing Kombucha, or even just thinking about it, you’ve likely wondered about some of these same things.

My answers are featured here in Ask The Kombucha Mamma.

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Kombucha & Plastic: Is it safe?

  • Can I use beer fermenting buckets to make kombucha in? They’re made to stand up to (not leech toxins) the alcohol in beer and that’s quite high… -Chris
  • What is the spout on these vessels you are selling made of? The ones I have seen are plastic – which wouldn’t work with Kombucha, right? It’s hard to tell from the picture…. ~Lori

Kombucha Mamma Sez…

BPA free plastic is considered safe for brewing Kombucha and many commercial brewers use plastic as their brewing vessels.

That said, I choose not to use plastic vessels for Kombucha fermentation. Though some of our continuous brew vessels have spigots made of BPA free food grade plastic, the amount is so small as to barely be in contact with the Kombucha.

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SCOBY Sink or Float?

  • How long does it usually take for the mushroom to raise to the top? If it doesn’t, is it a problem. Thanks so much. ~ Eric
  • When I placed the scoby in the tea it sank to the bottom of the jar. It is still there (3rd day in process). Is that normal? The tea was luke warm (around 97-98 degrees) when I placed it in. ~ Adrienne
  • Does it matter where the scoby floats? It fell nose-down-style to the bottom. Will this be a bad thing? HELP. ~ Lyn

Kombucha Mamma Sez…

As you can see, this is a common concern for new brewers. However, it doesn’t matter, sink or float, the culture can live anywhere in the jar. The new layer always forms at the top.

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Kombucha & Candida/GAPS?

Hi Hannah, I’ve been on GAPS for about five months to cure my digestive disorders and candida overgrowth, and the only sugars allowed are monosaccharides, specifically raw honey and fruit. I like to drink kombucha because of its probiotic content, but am still worried about the 2 grams of sugar left in the drink after fermentation.

It’s not the amount of sugar that worries me, but the type. If cane sugar (table sugar) is used in making it, isn’t that the type of sugar that is left over at the end? Or does the disaccharide sugar break down into a monosaccharide after fermentation? Thanks ~ Allison

Kombucha Mamma Sez…

Yes, most of the small amount of sugar that is left in the end product are monosaccharides (fructose & glucose) as the culture breaks down the original sugar (sucrose) and converts it to CO2 & ethanol. The bacteria consume the ethanol and convert it to the healthy acids. Keep in mind, an average glass of fruit juice contains 13-27 grams of sugar, while soda contains 35 or more.

Many diabetics and candida sufferers elect to extend the fermentation cycle of their Kombucha brew in order to ensure all of the sugar has been consumed by the culture(10-14 days). This does make the Kombucha tarter, but is easily remedied by diluting with fruit juice (THRIVE, AMZ), ice or water.

Some Kombucha drinkers (such as Len Porzio) say it helped them get rid of their candida all together. Though a Herxheimer reaction may occur in the form of an initial flare up during die off, those symptoms abate and then disappear.

Here is a post that provides more answers about the Gaps Diet. And after investigating the link you sent further, I found what the GAPS Diet FAQ says about Kombucha:

  • Is Kombucha allowed on Gaps? How do you know when all the sugar has fermented out?

Yes, kombucha is allowed, but I would not introduce it until you move to the Full GAPS diet. At that stage, if a little sugar is left in your kombucha, it will not do you any harm, as your gut will be strong enough to handle it. Just ferment it the usual way, so it tastes sour.

Kombucha & Sugar FAQ
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Scoby in Fridge / Leaving Town?

Hey Hannah, I’m a college student and I started a culture Sunday night, without thinking I have to leave tomorrow for spring break. Should I just give the SCOBY another week to grow, or maybe move it to my fridge to suspend it? Thanks! ~ Rob

Kombucha Mamma Sez…

In this scenario, simply leave the kombucha to ferment and taste it when you return. If it’s too sour, you can cut with juice or water or use it to start a new batch.

NEVER put Kombucha cultures in the fridge as they may go dormant. Some sites recommend this for storage of extra SCOBYs, however it is best to leave your SCOBY Hotel out at room temperature.

SCOBY Hotel Maintenance

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Kombucha & Children

Hi Hannah, What are your thoughts on giving Kombucha to young children? ~ Eric

Kombucha Mamma Sez…

My thoughts are DO NOT give Kombucha to children under the age of 1 years old (the same recommendations given about all raw foods such as raw honey). Some believe that you should wait until a child has a naturally developed immune system before giving them Kombucha.

I am not a doctor, but if you’d like to share it with your children – start with small amount 1-2oz followed by water, then observe how they respond to it. Many families are using it as a soda substitute – so if it agrees with your children, go for it.

In the end, it really is a personal choice and I recommend doing some further research to decide if it is the right decision for your family.

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54 Comments

  • Patricia

    January 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I want to start making kombucha tea but heard horror stories about the tea spoiling. Living in Florida, the temperature inside the home varies. Also trying to find a dark spot is few. Help

    Reply
  • Erin

    November 13, 2018 at 3:56 am

    Ahoy!!
    I live in the tropics and a few renegade ants have gotten into my fermentation jar…… extra protein or dangerous contaminant?? Help!!
    Thanks team!!!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      December 1, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Extra protein! Fish them out if you don’t wish to consume them. Unless of course mold appears, then toss everything and start fresh

      Reply
  • Pat

    June 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I was out of town and my kombucha is now almost vinegar. Can I use this as the starter for a new batch or will it just transfer the vinegar teste.?

    Reply
  • Joyce W

    February 3, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Heeeelp!! I am brewing my third batch of K. The first batch was the best, but the second and current batches aren’t that good. After two weeks, the scobies have made only very thin babies, and the K tastes bland. Is it because I’ve used a small amount of boiled water to make tea and mix in the sugar, then topped it up with unboiled tap water? I didn’t realise it’s best to use distilled water. Have I killed my scobies?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      June 14, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      Give it time and enough heat and it will improve in terms of flavor. Add back the same amount of tea as you are removing. You can use the shortcut recipe. Scale it based on how much tea you need to brew – for example, if you only need 4 cups of tea, then divide the recipe in 4. or if you need 8 cups (1/2 gallon) then cut it in half.

      Reply
  • Nell

    November 20, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Aloha!

    Ive been reading your posts , and have found them very helpful.

    I live on a sailboat, mold seems to overtake everything!

    My recent kombucha batch failed epically with a case of “the mold”
    Although my scoby seems to be unaffected, as its been resting at the bottom of my kombucha.

    Would you suggest reusing the scobys ?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 10, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      We would not suggest reusing any SCOBY that’s been in contact with mold even if the mold is not on that SCOBY. Could be cold temps or too much humidity that is causing the mold. Try keeping it warmer so the acids can form to keep the mold at bay. Here are more tips about keeping Kombucha mold free.

      Reply
  • Reggie

    October 29, 2017 at 6:09 am

    There are ants in my first kombucha fermentation. Is it stiill safe?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      July 7, 2018 at 10:33 am

      You may want to remove them first. The vast majority of ants are not toxic to humans so it ought to be safe to consume. Simply strain them out. Of course, if that is to “icky” then simply toss the batch and start over fresh.

      Reply
  • Jody

    September 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I did continuous brewing for about 9 months. Produced wonderful brew until it didn’t–turned to vinegar after only a couple days of brewing. Had to toss the old scoby and start again. Purhased a scoby from somewhere else before I found your site–they recommend NEVER doing continuous brew. Since following their directions to use the baby scoby for each new batch & to batch brew only, my brew has been flat tasting.
    Waitning for your book to arrive, but in the meantime, what to do?

    Reply
  • Allie

    July 13, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Hello! So I just got my first scoby last week, i recieved guidance from my neighbor who is a kombucha expert, and my kombucha still seems to be super sweet! I dont know what is going on, and it seems to be loosing the carbonation. What do i do?
    -Allie

    Reply
  • Lise St. Laurent

    June 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Is it harmful to drink kombucha out of a glass colored cup? thanks

    Reply
  • Racheal

    June 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This is my first batch of kombucha so I am still learning about the process. Unfortunately I had an ant fall into my kombucha while brewing( yuck!) I fished it out, however, I’m now concerned about germs, etc. Should I dump everything, including the SCOBY.
    Thank you so much!!

    Reply
  • Janee

    May 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Can kombucha be included in a low carb diet?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      When you brew Kombucha at home, you are in full control of the fermentation process. That means you can allow the brew to ferment longer until there is less sugar remaining and it tastes quite sour. We know of several folks who are low carb or keto that enjoy Kombucha as well. Here are more details about sugar in Kombucha –> https://www.kombuchakamp.com/sugar-and-kombucha-faq-top-10

      Reply
  • Therese

    May 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you so much for your helpful advice. My scoby has started to have holes in it and very uneven edges, with dark brown “strings” on the scoby. What could I be doing to cause this? The kombucha tastes fine, there’s no mold on the scoby.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 14, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      The “dark strings” are yeast. The holes are likely blow holes – is it quite warm where you are brewing? Higher temps will cause the cultures to find other ways to release the CO2 such as through blow holes. It may also lead to an excess of yeast as they like warmer temps. It will also cause your brew to ferment more quickly, so it could be a good thing!

      Reply
  • Len

    April 22, 2017 at 5:27 am

    You have come a long way girl. Keep up the great work.

    Cheers,
    ~ Len

    Reply
  • Eunie

    May 10, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Is it okay to use decaffinated tea?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 11, 2015 at 6:47 am

      It is okay to use decaf tea for batch brew provided you are using a culture that is raised on tea and sugar. Or you can use some decaf tea with some regular tea to lower the caffeine. Caffeine is an important nutrient for the culture and the Kombucha brewing process. Here’s an article about caffeine and here’s an article about what types of tea to use.

      Reply
  • Theresa Fairbanks

    March 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Hanna
    First I want to thank you for your valued free information, it has been so useful. I am on my 4th batch of Kombucha, making two batches at a time. I started out making my own Scoby and was told I could refrigerate them, that is from the people who have the new york company. I bought there book. In other words I make two batches at a time. Then I put the scoby’s in the refriderator with 2 cups of Buch to cover them. Then I reuse as needed. My Buch is fantastic tasting, now my husband is hooked and I will be making more. So what I am asking is are you suppose to keep your scoby’s out of the fridge and in a hotel as you say? and if so doesn’t it continue to grow? Because from what I have read when you put them in the fridge it slows down the growing and then you start them back up to produce more. Because everything I make Buch I get another scoby..

    Thank you
    Blessings
    Theresa

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Every culture will behave differently. Our information is designed to address the experience that most people have. Many people, when they put their cultures in the fridge, tend to forget about them for several weeks or months, then when they try to reactivate them, they might fail getting mold or Kombucha that doesn’t ferment. Sounds like your cultures are only in the fridge for a brief period. If for some reason you’d want to take a break, we’d recommend leaving them at room temp so they are easier to reactivate. Happy Brewin!

      Reply
  • Nancy

    March 12, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Hi. I love your helpful blog! I subscribed to your newsletter, but I am having trouble getting the free e book. Of course this could be due to not being very tech savvy. I’m not sure what I am doing or not doing.
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      We sent you a copy of the DIY guide to your email address. The e-book arrives in a series of emails, one a day, for 6 days. Happy Reading!

      Reply
  • Christi

    March 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I recently found out about kefir and kombucha and read that they will help get rid of Candida and help with heartburn indigestion. I have made my first batch of kombucha and love love love it! However, it gives me heartburn after drinking it. I drink it plain and I cut it with filtered water so its not so strong. I also make the kefir and to start with it was soothing my heartburn, but now it comes back with it too. Any ideas on why and is there something I’m missing here. I just want this stuff to work! Please help.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 11, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Healing doesn’t happen over night. Give your body time to adjust with small, frequent servings. Then listen to your body – it will tell you how to proceed. My husband took an antacid pill every night – once he switched to Kombucha, he was able to give it up after a few weeks! Trust YOUR gut!

      Reply
  • Les

    March 1, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I failed at my first batch of kombucha. I picked up a SCOBY from a friend and began making some typical mistakes like first putting my SCOBY in the fridge, then sitting batch on a poorly vented shelf, and our house is typically just below 70. Now a bit over a month later no baby has grown however the Ph is at 3 and the brew doesn’t taste bad. Given the PH and no new SCOBY, is this batch safe to drink? Now with your new continuous brewer, we’ll soon hopefully have a good batch, but I do not want to through this out if I don’t have to. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      March 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      The pH is in the correct range – provided there is no visible mold on the culture and the taste is right, then it should be okay to drink. Trust YOUR gut!

      Reply
  • kidwellking

    January 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Love this site. I have a scoby that I have had for years (well generations of the same scoby). When I left for a trip my friend was going to handle mine but when I returned my new baby scoby had the very beginning signs of mold:( Noooo! So I immediately composted it. My mother from the batch was resting at the bottom, totally out of contact with the new baby, seemingly mold free. I emptied the sullied batch of ‘booch and cleaned the mother with water, then put her in a mason jar, with some of my already made ‘booch, and closed the lid. It has been a week, she is still mold free, the ‘booch around her was healthy and fizzy as could be. So, obviously my question is whether or not I can keep this old friend going or if I have to scrap it:( As of right now my whole batch looks totally normal.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      February 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      If your mother is not showing additional signs of being infected with mold, then go ahead and give it another shot. If the new baby that forms does have mold, then that will be your answer. Fingers crossed this one comes out alive!

      Reply
  • Verna

    September 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Hannah,
    How do you feel about making Kombucha in a home where there is a slight mold smell in the air? We also know the house has some growing black mold in the sun room. Is it consider unsafe to drink kombucha that was grown in such an environment?

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      September 17, 2013 at 6:27 am

      If the Kombucha has mold on it, then it is not safe to drink. If the Kombucha is mold free, then it is likely safe to drink. Trust Your Gut!

      Reply
  • Sharla

    May 14, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Hi Hannah,

    With your help I am making my first batch of Kombucha and on day 6 I noticed this large greyish glob that looks ghost. It is attached at the top and is floating. I have 2 scobys inside and there is a nice film/new scoby forming. Is this a massive yeast ghost? It’s not all stringy like I see in other photo’s. Should I be concerned and throw it out. I have search photo’s and have not see anything like it! Help! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      May 15, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Yeast can take on a variety of shapes and colors. If it doesn’t look like typical bread mold (fuzzy, on TOP of the culture) and the pH is correct (3.5 and lower), then it probably is yeast. You may also send a photo to customerservice@kombuchakamp.com for further verification.

      Reply
      • Sharla

        May 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

        For peace of mind I have to get a pH monitor! Thanks again!

        Reply
  • Lacee

    September 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I am in love with your site. Recently a friend offered me 2 scoby’s … elated I accepted to find that they have been stored in the fridge for the last two weeks… Is it worth the effort to allow them to sit until room temp and then follow your instructions? I am desperate.

    Reply
    • Hannah Crum

      September 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Only one way to find out – go ahead and brew with them. If they don’t work or get moldy, don’t be discouraged – just try again with a quality, fresh culture

      Reply
  • Myree

    April 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Hannah,

    I just bottled my first batch of KT and I found some pretty colored glass bottles at the local brew shop that are pretty inexpensive. The guy at the shop said they were tested safe for wine and beer but he wasn’t sure about the Ph of KT. I’ve looked online but can’t find info about colored glass… except amber glass… these are pretty red, teal, green and blue… I bought one of these and put some of my new KT in it but not sure how to test.

    Reply
    • hannah

      April 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Bottles made for human consumption are food safe. If the bottles were originally intended for another use or are merely decorative, then a home testing kit for lead and other toxins will verify if they are a safe choice.

      Reply
  • Valerie

    January 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Hey Hannah! I love the heating strip with dimmer I got from you!
    I have a question regarding cleaning the continuous brewer. I know it rarely needs to be cleaned (Once or twice a year, or if mold develops.) I’ve only been brewing for about 6 weeks now – so I hope to not have to clean it for a while, but I’d like to be prepared. How on earth do I handle that huge ugly scoby in my continuous brewer? (I’m seriously afraid of it – like the monster under my bed!) I have scoured the internet for discussions of advice on this and have had no luck.
    Also, the scoby in my continuous brewer is quite thin – after 6 weeks. Is that normal? I see all these images of perfectly smooth creamy 1/2″ thick scoby’s. That’s certainly not what my scoby looks like!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Lee

      January 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Hey Guys;
      I’ve just got to tell you…I’ve been addicted to GT’s Trilogy for many years and it just got too dang ‘spensive. Soooo.. what to do? Finished my first brew with the same ingrediants that was on the side of the bottle, and lo and behold—!! A perfect tasting “Trilogy”. Wow. I’m stoked! I’m just gonna let it ferment along with its little Blueberry, Acai sisters and see just how fizzy I can make it on the 2nd ferment…I am loving this. Lee in Atlanta

      Reply
      • hannah

        January 30, 2012 at 1:42 am

        Thanks for sharing your flavoring tip Lee! Sounds yummy!

        Reply
  • hannah

    May 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Yes! I leave 2-3 cultures in my brew at a time, then I pull the bottom layer off and add it to my SCOBY Hotel

    Reply
  • Eleanor

    May 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Can I brew Kombucha with more than one scoby at a time in the glass jar, or is it best to only have 1 scoby for brewing?

    Reply
  • Kombucha Kamp via Facebook

    April 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Got a question? Post it here!

    Reply
    • chris m.

      August 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      hi hanna, i have been brewing a batch for one month now and i have two questions… one: when it first started brewing ants got into it.. they stuck to the scoby and i was not able to pick them off, it seemed to eat them, it just grew around them and now it has been one month… i just tasted it, it is fermented but not sour.. do you think it is safe to drink, what with the ant content and all? two: if it is.. can i brew another batch with the same scoby? and can i store the batch i brewed without scoby in the fridge?

      Reply
      • Hannah Crum

        August 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

        If any type of bug is in your SCOBY, then I would toss that culture and start a new batch with one from my SCOBY Hotel. Have you tested the pH of your brew? It should definitely be sour after one month of fermentation in the summer! Yes, you can remove the culture and store your KT in the fridge once it is done fermenting.

        Reply

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