Video: SCOBY Hotel Set-Up Tip

At some point in your brewing process, you are going to want to create a SCOBY Hotel. This vacation spot for your SCOBYs is the perfect place for them to chill out until an emergency arises.

Why Make a SCOBY Hotel?

  • Your culture gets infested with fruit flies, vinegar eels, mold
  • Your friend wants to make Kombucha too
  • You are experimenting with different teas, roiboos, yerba mate, raw honey, etc
  • You are going on vacation and can’t brew KT on your regular schedule


How To Make a SCOBY Hotel: Video

  1. Grab a clean jar – at least a quart size or bigger
  2. Put an extra SCOBY in the jar
  3. Cover with Kombucha Tea
  4. Hide in the back cupboard


Storing a SCOBY Hotel

You can cover this jar in a couple of different ways:

  • With a cloth cover; the liquid will evaporate more quickly and you will need to check it more frequently but a new SCOBY will form to slow the evaporation process.
  • With a lid; plastic lids work best. Avoid metal lids or line them with a piece of plastic wrap to avoid metallic condensation from dripping onto your SCOBYs.

Whenever you encounter any problems with your brewing process, use a SCOBY from your Hotel. It’s great to have a couple, three of them hanging out, just in case.

From time to time, make sure there is enough liquid in the jar and refresh with unflavored Kombucha Tea when it starts to get low. That’s it!! The SCOBYs will just hang out in the pool until you need them!


SCOBY Hotel – Advanced Tip: Video

Made your Hotel – now what to do? Find out in the Long Term SCOBY Hotel Maintenance post.

Check Out These Related Posts & Pages!

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Responses to Video: SCOBY Hotel Set-Up Tip

  1. I absent-mindedly stuck a metal spoon into my scoby hotel to spoon a bit of liquid for my new kombucha batch. How fatal is my error?

  2. I am brewing a 1 gallon batch of Kombucha and a 1 gallon batch of Jun side by side. Everything is happening correctly and like clockwork. I am pretty confident thanks to all the info that Kombucha Kamp provides!

    My plan is to bottle half the amount of kombucha for each batch and use the remainder of liquid toward a Hotel for each. I think this will work, but rather unclear on future brewing, as it appears that starter liquid is always needed from the hotel. It seems that there is not very much starter liquid in these hotels in pictures I have seen. My question then is: at least how much starter liquid should be in a hotel at all times? I am speaking from a batch brew perspective…THANKS

    • You can definitely use the hotel for starter liquid provided you also give it some sweet tea. The sweet tea will ensure that the hotel has enough liquid for future batches. Cut the recipe in half or quarter to make smaller amounts of sweet tea for the hotel.

  3. Hi Hannah, wondering if you can help me… I have been following your website and all of your wonderful advice, since I began brewing, making great batches of kombucha. When leaving for 2 months to go travelling I put the scobys in a scoby hotel as you instructed, first covering them in a plastic lid. When I returned I switched it to my usual coffee filter cover for a couple of weeks so they could get air circulation and ‘wake up’. The scobys look good and have fed them with sweet tea occasionally but my first two batches have been completely flat, when before they had a lovely fizz…. makes me sad as they don’t seem to be happy. Am I doing something wrong? What do you think may be causing this?

  4. Hi Hanna, great site, lots of very interesting info and great book, which I just received. Quick question. Wouldn’t leaving the scobys in a fresh pot of sweet tea be as good as leaving them in a hotel? After all, you. Get the time it takes for the scobys to brew the new tea into kt plus it creates a new scoby, plus you then have plenty of time where they can just stay in that newly brewed kt, right?

    And second question. How long does freshly brewed and flavoured kt last for once it’s been refrigerated? Plus should the bottles be kept up or can they be introduced in the shelf for bottles inside a fridge, in horizontal position?

    Man thanks

    • Yes – you can definitely store them in sweet tea or Kombucha. We do recommend that the bottles are stored upright because Kombucha is more mobile than water meaning it can leak out of even a tightly capped bottle if on its side. It will last indefinitely in the fridge assuming you enjoy the flavor and no mold grows on any pieces of flavoring left in them.

  5. Someone was kind enough to leave a couple of new mature scobys to start my own Kombucha.

    However I only had enough materials to start one .
    I need to get the other Scoby started in a hotel.

    Can I use the unfinished Kombucha that I started with the other scoby (have been fermenting for 9 days ) to start my scoby hotel ?
    Or does it have to be completely finished Kombucha ?

    Thanks !

  6. Hello! I first started with Gingerbeer cultures, then water kefirs… I was always told to create the syrup and then put it all in the fridge to slow the growth intentionally… i understand the logic and i understand why you are saying no to with kombucha… im curious if you would recommend this “hotel” practice for all culture SCOBYs or only kombucha? my fear was always starving the culture

    • The Kombucha culture is very hardy and won’t “starve” as long as we keep it submerged in liquid. Adding sweet tea from time to time will keep the cultures fresh and happy!

  7. Just started my first brew. On third day the scoby was at a 90 degree angle (up and down. Next day it was again horizontal. It has a brown cloudy formation at the bottom and side touching the jar. All equipment is from kit I ordered. Still have a few days to go before trying my brew. One last thing, I noticed when I opened the scoby plastic bag. The solution had a vinegary odor. Hopefully my first attempt will be successful. I also bought The Big Book of Kombucha. Will be plenty of good reading, and a better knowledge of the Kombucha process.

  8. Hi, I’ve just noticed mould on the surface of my latest kombucha however it hasn’t touched the Scoby. Do I still need to dispose of the lot? Thanks in advance. Steph

  9. I am starting or after many years, must say I have missed it ☺ I am a notorious no measure person, trying my best to get the liquid and sugar ratios right. Well my first continuous brew seems to be working, I replace more or less what I draw out, let it go a little longer if it is still too sweet, but it is fizzy – don’t even recall that from years ago, I think it used to be a lot more sour. Even started a new one, since my neighbor likes it, so I am making one batch now and one continuous -the hotel comes next. BUT everything I bottle starts new scobies if I keep it on the counter. I know I can drink them, but they gross me out LOL
    Added fruit to one bottle, quite nice but not enough fizz. What do I need for more fizz???

  10. Hi, how do you keep your scoby small when you put them in a bigger jar? Mine always grow to the width of the jar and I have trouble sharing them with others when they are so big…

    • The SCOBY is doing exactly what its supposed to do – seal the top completely to prevent contaminants and to create an anaerobic fermentation process below the surface. You can always use scissors or a knife to cut it up into smaller pieces to share with others. Give at least 1 cup of strong starter liquid and send them this recipe –>

  11. Hi Hannah. Quick question. I am brewing a new batch of Kombucha, and a new scoby has formed nicely BUT half of it is floating above the liquid! About one half of it is still laying nicely on top, but the other half has floated up and is about 1/4 of an inch above the tea. So, should I gently press it down till it reaches the tea, or should I leave it? (The mother scoby is just floating around in the tea somewhere in the middle of the jar, this one always sinks/never attaches to a new scoby, but makes great tea). Any advice is appreciated!

  12. I’ve had my scobys in a hotel for over a year. I want to start it up again, the scobys look great. There’s still plenty of liquid in the jar as I kept a lid on it. My quest is: can I use that for my starter? Or should I use ACV? Thanks!

    • Do NOT use ACV – especially if it is raw. There are a couple of reasons why 1) it may contain vinegar eels which will destroy your Kombucha culture 2) the bacteria present in ACV will compete with the bacteria in Kombucha. Best to use the sour stuff from your hotel. If you don’t have enough – brew a small batch of sweet tea and add it to your hotel. Within a few days, it will acidify and can be used as starter liquid.

  13. Okay K Mama … my question has been whether or not it can run out of nutrients in the SCOBY hotel? I am going to put the cloth over my hotel now since it will keep making me more SCOBY’s … yay!! Plus I’ve had a plastic lid on it and it keeps popping off! 🙂

    Thanks for your time!!

  14. Is it okay to cover scoby hotel with breathable cloth then have the canningl lid on top of it? If not ,should I throw out all my scoby’s?

    • Provided the lid is not over the cloth and only the metal ring is used to secure the cloth, then yes. We avoid metal lids because of the condensation that occurs as the liquid evaporates. If the lid is metal, rust will occur which leads to off flavors and potential contamination.

  15. Hi Hannah, just came across your page while trying to work out how to relocate countries with my scoby.

    I have two on the go normally, and just now added one very large one to my compost as no-one in Tonga I know of is interested in brewing kombucha. Was thinking the smaller one would be better to travel with – now thinking I should have kept both, but c’est la vie.

    Please, could I travel with it in a very small amount of sugar tea for one day, basically just a tiny jar with barely any liquid – to satisfy the 100ml international liquid rules? I will need to do that twice, as moving from Tonga via Australia to Vanuatu, and the week in between I can feed it as normal. Might this work do you think?
    Thank you, Kylie

    • Yes – if need be, SCOBYs may be packed with minimal liquid in an airtight container or plastic baggie. We recommend bringing some liquid in a separate bottle if possible (seal well, tape around the lid at the top, wrap in plastic baggies, tape baggies tightly to bottle and stow in luggage?) or use distilled vinegar as starter when you arrive in your new location. Let us know how the culture fares!!

  16. Hi! I am just starting my continuous brew with some fat healthy SCOBYs from a friend. She also gave me 4 extra so I set up a hotel for them. My question is, if I put a lid on, will the container not explode eventually because of gas buildup, or does this only happen with the second ferments? Also, liquid seems to be leaving my hotel VERY quickly even though I have a coffee filter and metal lid loosely placed over the top. Is there another reason for this besides evaporation?

    Thanks so much for your wonderful site, you all are so kind and helpful. 🙂

  17. I am confused about why you would cover the SCOBY hotel with a lid when you don’t do this with the brewing batch. Is there no danger of it exploding?

    • It is personal preference. Closing it with a lid will slow evaporation but may also lead to an acetone smell over time. If you use a cloth cover, feed the hotels as evaporation occurs. Here is a post on maintaining your SCOBY Hotel over time.

  18. My scoby has a lot of yeasty brown on it. The scobys that I see online are so clean! What am I doing wrong? I know that my scobys are healthy and smell good. Any thoughts?

    • Nothing is wrong – that is perfectly normal! If there are too many strands, simply wipe them off with your fingers or clean towel. We don’t want to remove too many of the strands so that we don’t compromise the effervescence level.

  19. Hello, I have several questions for you. I have had my hotel since last fall and have the scobys sitting in kt in a glass 2 gallon jar covered by a cloth on top of a cabniet. I have covered twice with kt as the liquids went down but just noticed it went down a lot recently and now the top scoby is not covered. Is it still okay to use? I also read that I should have been taking out the yeast on the bottom but have not done so. I have always grown mine with honey with no problem but would like to use sugar. Should I get a new scoby to switch sweentener? Thanks for your website and answering questions.

  20. I put a couple of my scoby in a hotels with just a cloth covering them (there was tea to begin with) and I forgot about them, for more that a couple weeks. Have I ruined them?

  21. Hi Hannah
    Thanks for all the information you so generously share. I have just grown my first mother from an imported bottle of commercial KT made in RSA with huge success. My KT was not too fizzy, does this improve with time?

    • As the culture adapts to the environment, it should improve. Hard to say for certain when starting from commercial Kombucha. Happy Brewin!

  22. I put my extra scobies in the refrigerator. Are they now not any good? Or should I just take them out and form a scoby hotel?

    • Move them to a SCOBY Hotel and give them an infusion of sweet tea to help them revive. If you see a new layer forming in the Hotel, then that is a good sign they are coming back to life.

    • Tear it apart with your hands. The layers are typically only lightly fused together. The daughter will thicken up over time, but as soon as you move the layer, that layer stops growing and a new one starts. As long as the booch tastes good, that’s what’s important.

  23. Great article on Kombucha, I’m a newbie making Kombucha, I was wondering if the scobies would be viable if frozen for a period of time? Someone may have mentioned it somewhere but I was watching for an answer. Thanks

  24. I would like to know if I can use the scoby that you buy in a bottle of raw Kombucha, because this was refrigerated, and they tell you not to use refrigerated scoby’s. Thanks

  25. Hi I am new to making kombucha and I am wondering for the scoby hotel do you have to add sugar to the hotel while it is resting? Or just add some of the starter tea to cover the scoby to keep it alive? Thanks so much!!

  26. The lid for the scoby hotel…should it be air tight or allow air to circulate in and out of the vessel? Apologies if you’ve answered this question before. I’m very new at this. 😛

  27. Thank you for the tip on heating. I have not been able to brew Kombucha for years. I didn’t know my new apartment was too cool. I started in mid 70s and was sad when I was not able to brew here. Bringing a new mother home in the cold blistered it but the warmth from the heating pad revived it. Now I am starting my hotel with damaged mother and 1st baby.
    Thank you so very much for the tips,

  28. Hi there! I have been storing my multiple scoobys this way, each in their own jars. Im a student and the past few weeks I have been studying for exams, and neglecting my kombucha making. My scoobys have eaten all the liquid, and are big clean and white looking. The problem is that they are dry on the top now! Is this safe? They smell fine.. thanks!

    • As long as there is some liquid remaining and the cultures are at least partially submerged, they may still work. If they are completely out of the liquid, they will likely mold. Only one way to find out if they will work, get a new batch a’brewin!

  29. Hi,

    Just passing on an “experience” regarding mold and starting over. I hope it helps some folks avoid cross-contamination.

    We kept our SCOBY Hotel (with 6-9 SCOBY) in an unlit corner of the kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. We ALSO kept the pot of daily compost scraps next to it.

    In August of 2013 we stopped making KT (It was a bit hectic at that time.). In October 2013, we noticed the water had turned dark brown and, upon removing the cloth cover, we found MOLD. The water discoloration is what alerted us that something might be wrong. It happened quickly; within 1-3 days. We lost the entire hotel. We think the compost scraps, which sometimes form mold before we get them out to the tumbler, transferred their mold spores to the hotel.

    Despite the loss, we did have a “dormant” 1-quart batch from back in July stashed in the fridge. We took it out, brewed a concentrate, added it to the “dormant” batch (after allowing to come to room temp) and now have the early formation of our first next generation SCOBY.

    For what it’s worth, I hope this info helps someone. From this point forward, we’ll store Fred (our SCOBY), away from plants and other possible sources of mold & fungus. Happy brewing to all. Ken

    • Kombucha cultures require oxygen as they are primarily an aerobic ferment. Once the new layer grows across the top, an anaerobic process takes place below the surface. Best to keep it covered with a cloth cover or fermentation cap.

    • I checked our system and didn’t find an order for you – so maybe you got your culture from somewhere else. A mother culture reproduces with every batch. If it isn’t reproducing then it may not have been a good culture to start with or there may be something not quite right about the brewing environment. Drop an email with more details about your brewing process to for further assistance.

  30. Hi, I am new to brewing and the mother SCOBY i started my batch with looks perfectly healthy and was sitting at the very bottom with a thin baby on top. However another baby formed at the top and I found a very tiny patch of mold that wasn’t touching the brew it was right on the top layer. I picked it up careful not to let it touch the brew and threw it away, I dumped out the rest of the brew except for a tiny bit on the bottom and saved the other two SCOBY’s which look good. Is this unwise? Do you think there is mold I can’t see living in that solution? Also I noticed that the brew (which had been brewing for about 14 days) was not very acidic, it tasted sweet.

    • Check the pH to make sure it is at the right level. It is also cold this time of year so maintaining the correct brewing temp is vital (75-85).

  31. Hi Hannah,
    I just started my first scoby hotel with one scoby. It started to develop a new one as you stated above but the old one is trying to climb out of the tea LOL. What do you suggest I do with the escape artist? Love your blog and have recommended it to others who want to brew =)

  32. Today I get to taste my first ever brew! The scobys arrived from you 3 weeks ago in excellent shape. Thank you for all of the information in starting this wellness for my family. We were first introduced to kombucha by our daughters in laws who live several states away. No one I’ve talked to have ever heard of it before but glad to have found you to help this “nubby”. Thanks again! Louise from Kansas

  33. What is a Vinegar Eel?! It sounds scary, and with all of the unique looking yeast strands, I want to see if you have photos you can share so we can be sure we don’t have these creatures in our KT?! Thanks Hannah!!

  34. Hi Hannah, I have read repeatedly that herbal teas shouldn’t be used for making kombucha, only green or black (true) teas. This is always what I’ve used, but I am a huge fan of yerba mate and herbal tisanes and I would love to try that. Do you know why people advise against using non-tea tisanes to make kombucha?

    • You can try making herbal K’s with your extra babies but if you don’t use any tea at all, they may not continue to proliferate as they will be lacking some vital nutrients. Here is an article on what types of teas to use for brewing Kombucha (click through to the 2nd post at the bottom of the first for info on Yerba Mate)

  35. Hey, When I received my first scoby from a friend it was in a gallon sized ziploc bag with some of its KT. I am now ready to start giving scobys away and wanted to make sure this is an ok way to keep them for a few days until a friend picks them up.

    • Ziploc bags can work in a pinch but we do not recommend leaving them in there for extended periods of time as the KT will leach toxins from the plastic as it is a lower quality plastic.

  36. Thanks Hannah for all this great information. I am new to this but know that I will love it. I have a question though. The Scoby that I received had been stored in the refrigerator for some time. I have made a few batches with it and it looks great. Is it okay to use it or should I rather get a new one?

    • As long as it is reproducing, then you are good. Sometimes fridge SCOBYs bounce back, other times they don’t. Best to store at room temp.

  37. I am on my 5th batch of KT. My SCOBY is now a dark brow. It does not look like mold. Is it ok to keep using it? Should I pull the babies off and start a hotel? Thanks ahead of time!

    • The culture will turn darker over time due to the tannins in the tea. Best to put the mother in the hotel and use the babies for the fresh batches.

    • They are a small harmless nematode that eats SCOBY. They are also grown as fish fry (food for baby fish). YouTube it to see what they look like. They won’t hurt you if ingested but they will prevent SCOBY growth.

  38. Thanks Hannah! How should I store them between now and then if there’s not enough time for a brewing cycle? In the fridge or out? With a plastic lid secured on the glass container, or just cloth?

    • Same way, in enough liquid to keep them covered and out of the fridge. You can use a cloth cover to store them until you are ready to move, then switch to a plastic lid to prevent sloshing. Happy Moving!

  39. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for all your fantastic information and user-friendly tips. I live in Brooklyn, and am moving apartments next weekend. I am in my 3rd ever brewing cycle with a mother (and her baby) I received from a friend, So I have 2 batches brewing. They are about ready to be jarred but could also stand a slightly longer brew.

    Once the kombucha is jarred, I’m wondering how best to handle my scobys so that they aren’t damaged in the move, and ready to start brewing with again as soon as possible.

    I’m hiring movers for the job, but will transport my living charges somehow by hand.

    x Amelia

    • Pack the SCOBYs in just enough liquid in a glass jar – if you fill the jars too full, they have a tendency to leak. Then keep the jars upright and transport in a box to prevent any spilling.

  40. I have a couple of scoby hotels set up. I don’t know where my brain has been but I put them in the fridge weeks ago. Will my scobys be ok or have I damaged them. I sure hope not because I put a Jun scoby in one of the jars and I’m having problems with the one I’ve been brewing. Thanks, Sue

    • JUN cultures are not the same as Kombucha SCOBYs. Kombucha is an acetobacter ferment whereas JUN is a lactobacillus ferment. The JUN cultures brew best at cooler temps, so your JUN may still be viable. For the Kombucha SCOBYs, you can give them a try, but if they don’t brew up or go to mold, it is because of long term storage in the fridge.

  41. Can kombucha be made from water and the regular amount of starter? I made some with the regular recipe of 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 gallon filtered water, 1 C of starter, and a TBLSP of distilled vinegar as I thought maybe it needed more adidity because of the lack of tea. It seems to be working ok but the scoby on top after 7 days is clear….what does this mean? Can you successfully keep culturing water this way successfully?

    • No. In just a batch or two, the culture won’t be able to reproduce because it is starved of the nutrients it needs from the tea.

  42. In a few days I will be the excited owner of a scoby from a friend, and because of your well presented information things will go well, Im sure. 🙂
    My goal is to have it on hand for my family and then share the extra scobys, and your website. Maybe others will be encouraged to try it when they see how easy it really is.
    Thank you!

  43. I have a 2-gallon glass container for continuous brewing, however it has a stainless steel spigot. Is stainless ok? If not, do you sell plastic replacements? Thanks.

    • If the spigot is actually made of stainless steel, then it is perfectly acceptable to use for brewing KT. If it is a plastic spigot with metallic paint, then we would suggest replacing it. The acidity of the KT will eat through the paint and it may chip off into your glass. We do sell replacement spigots —>

  44. HELP!! I started myt batch, I left it too long but got a beautiful baby out of it… Threw thre baby ion a new batch, got two more babies out of those batches, then I started having warmth issues, which I know I could fix with a warmer… My question is: If the yeast gets out of hand because the bacteria is sleepy from the cold, how many batches might it take to bring them back into balance? I have GORGEOUS!!! SCOBY like creamy and beautiful and over an inch thick on three of them and still happily growing!! and it’s tart and vinegary tasting after 14 days, I’m in Canada.. it’s cold here..I love the flavor, I love the look of it, The SCOBY seem happy… but I’m thinking it may be too yeasty because of the cold..advice? Or am I just being neurotic?

    • We still have to clean out the Hotel from time to time especially when you notice that the flavor is getting too tart or that there is quite a bit of brown goop on the bottom of your jar. If you are getting creamy, happy SCOBYs, then it sounds like everything is going well. You will know its time for a clean out when the flavor noticeably shifts (too tart, beer-y, etc). Until then, Happy Brewin!

    • Potentially – depends on how warm it is where the Hotel is being stored and how active your brew is in terms of carbonation.

    • The SCOBY will last indefinitely in the hotel. Yes, you will need to feed it sweet tea from time to time as you notice the liquid evaporating.

  45. When my very first KT was done, I found a poor, thin, weak looking SCOBY on the top. It had stuck to the filter paper I had put over the KT to keep things out. I thought it had torn when I removed it. But I lifted it gently out and made a SCOBY hotel for it. Now 5 days later it has grown big and strong. I can hardly believe it is the same SCOBY.

  46. Hi Hunnah
    I am a kombucha brewer. last month i saw my new scoby is so thin.i think my old scoby is weak so i used a newer scob but no change happend.Now i understand that my kombucha is contaminated whit a kind of nematode( a kind of worm). what can i do to swoop them? thanks

  47. Hi Hannah! Do I have to worry about carbonation build-up on my scoby hotel if I put a lid on it? I’m out of town every other week for 8 days at a time – so I wouldn’t be able to release the co2 during that time. Thanks so much!

    • If you are concerned about carbonation build up, you can always put a cloth cover on the hotel while you are traveling. You will likely come home to a new, healthy SCOBY on top!

  48. Okay, now I’m freaked. Vinegar eels? Creepy. A friend mailed me a scoby in KT and I’ve had it going for 3 days now. How does one tell if one has vinegar eels?

  49. Hi Hannah,
    Love your site, very informative.
    I have a gallon jar with several scobys and lots of brown gunk. Should I get rid of the gunk?
    Also the scobys grow very thick and do not have layers is there a reason for this?
    Thanks for your help.

    • The layer continues to grow until it is disturbed. If you haven’t touched or moved your SCOBY Hotel lately, then that is why the layer is so thick. You can always use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim off a piece. The “gunk” is yeast and yes, you may remove the excess yeast when you clean out your hotel. That will help to keep the bacteria & yeast in balance.

  50. Hey, was just wondering what is the maximum amount of scobys you would keep it one hotel at a time and for how long? Thanks.

    • You can fill the jar up. Provided there is enough liquid to cover them all, they will remain viable for extended periods of time. From time to time, add fresh sweet tea to keep the cultures active. The starter it makes is very powerful, so if you drain some of the liquid off, you will only need 1/2 as much as regular starter.

  51. When the tea ready and I want to flavor it how much Juice do I add to 3 Qt. of the Kumbucha tea, does it have to be fresh or bottled juice?

    • Experiment to find the flavor that tastes delicious to you. A little bit goes a long way especially if it is juice. Here is an article to read about flavoring Kombucha – hope it gives you some great inspiration! Share your findings with us when you do!

  52. Hi Hannah, today I’ve left comments on this blog for the first time. Doing so, it came to me how much I’ve learned in a short period of time. I give you my deepest thanks for getting me started on this wonderous journey!

    • When you are ready to clean out your brewer or when you notice you have a nice amount of culture built up in the vessel, trim some of it or fish out your original mother to start your SCOBY Hotel.

  53. I am new at this and just received my scobies last week. Really thick and nice, thanks! I have begun to brew these in my large crock, and tasted last night and it is wonderful! My big question is, will I disturb the new thin scoby on top of the brew when I replace with sweet tea the same amount? (Do I stir this in, or just slip it past the scoby gently?)
    Also, do I then assume another 7 days for readiness — or could it be ready earlier since there is much more kombucha per new tea?
    Thanks for this site and your advice!

    • Hi Kay! Glad you are enjoying your KT. You can pour the top off tea directly on top of the new SCOBY. It will disturb the layer, but a new layer will start forming. Over time, you will end up with several layers fused together. Taste it from your spigot every day to determine when the KT is done. Refer to Chapter 5 of the Complete Handbook for full details regarding the CB process.

  54. Hey Hannah, I bought my SCOBY from you about a year ago and have been successful in keeping it going, but I have a question….. I made a SCOBY hotel about five months ago, after watching your video, but I’m worried that perhaps I ruined the SCOBYs inside. Basically I put the SCOBys in there with plenty of kt, and put a metal lid on it and set in a dark place. I haven’t fed it or really done anything with it at all since then. I just opened it to make some tea with the SCOBYs and it smells like liquor! The SCOBYs look great, no mold, but is the tea ok? Did they “go bad”? So my question is, can I use the kt for the starter culture for my new batch? Should I throw these SCOBYS out? I hope not, but I don’t know.

    • I would leave off the metal lid as it may corrode over time leaving your cultures with a metallic taste. Use a cloth cover or plastic lid for longer term storage. The alcoholic smell is due to the yeast and the lack of oxygen. No worries, it doesn’t mean that if you brew up a batch with them that it will create more alcohol. Just add some fresh sweet tea to the hotel, change the lid and they will be happy!

  55. Greetings Hannah!
    I feel blessed to have a conv. with you 😛
    My question today is: What is your overall opinion of using a Charred Oak barrel with a wooden or plastic spigot for Continuous Brew of KT?
    Also I might as well ask this too; How bad is it to have non-food-grade plastics come in short contact with KT(Like- funnels and stir-spoons)?
    Thanks, and namaste!:

    • We will have Oak Barrels with all wood spigots SOON! (Call me if you want yours before they hit the site 424-245-5867). The tannins of the oak and the charring process provide a healthy and happy home for the cultures. We are choosing to go with an all wood spigot for peace of mind. Incidental contact with metal or non food grade plastics do not carry a risk.

  56. OK, then – Thanks so much for clarifying that I can use my 3 gallon glass jar for a scoby hotel. And, I read in this blog that I can cut the too-large scoby so that it will fit into the smaller-necked jar. Very cool! Other questions: 1) You have said that airflow is important, but that a plastic lid could be used. Am I confusing the type of lid needed for the brewing KT with the type of lid needed for a hotel? And 2)All of the crocks I’ve seen online (and, the one I have) have a slanted lip that a rubber band will not stay around. What’s a girl to do to keep a cloth cover in place? I noticed that some websites offer a ceramic lid in the $16.00 range. Would that work? I don’t want to spend money unnecessarily!

    • At the point it gets contaminated. I wouldn’t expect it to happen, but if you purchase a culture or use a Kombucha that is already infested, then it will lead to an infestation. Their exact origin is still a mystery that we are working to figure out.

  57. Hannah – I’m new to KT brewing, and my friend is SCOBY-sitting until my supplies roll in. Anyway, I’ve was told that a ceramic (and therefore, dark), lead-free crock is the way to go – but then I see your SCOBY hotel in a clear glass jar. What’s up? If I cover the sides of my 3 gallon clear glass jar with a towel, will that be dark enough to brew? Thanks – love your site and your energy. KT-generated, no doubt?

    • Yes Vikki, I like to think of myself as “bacteria powered” 😉 The main concern with light is direct sunlight as it can have an antibacterial effect (best way to dry your clothes!). Ambient light doesn’t have an adverse affect on the cultures so provided they are out of direct sunlight, they will remain healthy & viable. You may also cover them with a long cover and we have gallon jar covers coming soon! (I’ll post the link here when they are in the store!)

  58. Hi. Thanks for this site. I’m completely new at brewing kombucha, and I’m bottling my first batch today. I want to make a scoby hotel. Do I add sugar to the kombucha tea for the hotel at all? Is this kombucha tea just the regular old kombucha tea, and not fermented kombucha? Sorry about all of the questions, but I have 2 beautiful scobys and I don’t want to kill them. 🙂 Thanks.

  59. Can I let a scoby sit for 6 months in a close container? I am travelling for that time but would like to start over again when I return!

  60. Can the jar you use for the hotel be round? I got a jar at Goodwill for my hotel, but it’s rounded, not straight up and down. Does that matter?

  61. I am using a Primo ceramic water dispenser for my continuous brewing of KT. Their web site said the dispenser is lead and cadmium free. It is made in China. I do not believe everything I read, and am wondering if there is any danger of there being lead in the glaze on the jar. I do not know if it is FDA approved. Do you have any thoughts or experience with the safety of using this for brewing KT? I want to be safe.

    • Most items made for food consumption are going to be lead free. If you are still concerned, you can purchase a home lead testing kit to see for yourself.

  62. Hey thanks for the great videos. How long can a kt hotel store viable SCOBYs? If I use a metal lid how often should I check on it?

    • Don’t recommend using a metal lid due to condensation. Better to use a plastic lid or cloth cover.

  63. I am soooo glad to have learned this! I have always kept my Scoby in the fridge, and at some point find it vinegary! A Scoby Hotel it is!!

    The other day after making some fresh juice, I added a bit of my Kombucha to it. Yum!!

  64. Hello Hannah,

    I’ve started my first Scoby hotel. Once the the level of the mature KT goes down, do I add more starter liquid or can I just make sweet tea and continuously add it in as the levels go down?

  65. Maybe you are tired of so many questions from people. 🙂 Here’s mine – I’m hesitating to make a “hotel” to store in my pantry because I assume it will gradually emit a smell like vinegar? Also we often make homemade beer in the same kitchen and dh is concerned too much kombucha around might contaminate his work. (He makes beer, I make kombucha & kefir.) I’m wondering if it would be safer to store my extra in the fridge and just give them plenty of time to warm back up should I need one?
    Also wondering if I need to periodically sanitize my continuous brewing pot and take out & clean the spigot? tia

  66. Hi Hannah,
    I am speculating since we can brew in a Food Grade Plastic (#2) bucket, that it is acceptable to use that bucket for a SCOBY Hotel.

    Is this true?

    I just hadn’t seen this asked of you yet?

    THANK YOU for your joyous dedication to health and healing.

    Bliss and blessings,

  67. Hi Hannah- Life got away from me and just saw my two poor scobys languishing in ziplocs. Bags seem filled with gas. Too late? Also at the moment don’t have unflavored kt to make hotel. Your thoughts are welcome!

    • Not too late Randy! Liberate the SCOBYs and get brewin! You will have more culture later to start the hotel.

  68. I have the same question as Jessica, What is a vinegar eel? I am new at making kt i have only been doing it now for about 2 months, so far my first batch came out good, but my second batch I guess I didn’t let it brew or ferment long enough. Hopefully my next batch will be better.

    • A vinegar eel is a harmless nematode. They are often raised as food for baby fish. They aren’t good for KT though because they eat the SCOBY.

  69. hi hannah,
    I found your videos and entire site very informational and helpful. I got my scoby from a trusted friend and have completed 3 brewing, and results have been fine. However, every time there’s an extra scoby on top of the mother it always attaches to mother. I would like to have a scoby hotel or use those babies to experiment different flavors. Should I separate them? What do I do?

    • Yes, you can separate them into your SCOBY Hotel. Gently tear them apart or use a pair of sanitized (vinegar) scissors.

  70. Hi Hannah,

    Just found your website and have watched a couple of videos. I am new to Kombucha, and in fact just finished my first bath. The scoby I had gotten (unfortunately not from you) was oddly shaped with a couple of long legs sticking out. Lol. Is that okay? All the ones I’ve seen in your videos are nice and round and pancake like.

    Also, I didn’t know you WERENT’T supposed to keep the brewing jar in a dark cabinet, so mine probably didn’t get much air circulation. Does that harm the KT? Should I just start over?

    Lastly, since my first batch is done, I was just trying to start a new batch because they take so long to brew and I haven’t built up a lot of scobys yet, and I forgot I was supposed to cool the tea before I put the scoby in. It wasn’t freshly boiled, but it was still fairly hot (probably around 160 degrees). Do you think I damaged the scoby by doing that?

    Thanks! And sorry for so many questions. I’m excited and anxious to do this properly.

    Jenny Ambotolis

    • Brewing KT is simple and fun once you get the hang of it. You definitely want to let the water cool down or you risk harming your yeast (they are temperature sensitive). Here is the Kombucha recipe I recommend using. Airflow is also important – a great place to brew it is on top of the fridge as it gets some warmth from the exhaust fan and is usually out of direct sunlight with plenty of air!

  71. How long can the continuous brew go on without having to clean out the container? Also, does it make so many scobys that they have to be harvested as well. Should you pull out the older one and leave some newer ones to continue on? I just picture the container filling up with scobys like a kt hotel. Thanks.

  72. Thanks for all your advice. I have started my own SCOBY and because we are in summer in SOuth Africa my brew is fast and my scoby doesnt get that thick but results are fine. I also bought another thick SCOBY and it is slow and it produces a much different taste to myu own, with a much sweeter finish. I was wondering whether the originating tea when the Mom was made does not infliuence the taste of kt? How does kt from Rooibos taste like, in more general terms, more on the sweet finish or vinegar???
    Sorry if I confuse the matter

    • I’m not totally clear from your comment if you are using ONLY Rooibos or if it is in combination with other tea (green, black or white). If the tea is too sweet, then it needs to ferment longer or it could indicate that the culture isn’t active. Give it another batch or 2 and see if it doesn’t come around. Do make sure you are using tea as your nutrient solution (tea & sugar).

  73. Hi Hannah, thanks for all your great info. It’s helped me so much! I do have a question RE the hotel. I kept my SCOBYs in a hotel as you suggested, but I placed a metal lid on top of the container instead of a cloth. Not sure how I missed that step 🙁 They sat that way for a couple of months. Now, my brew is flat and lifeless. Is there any hope? Or do I need to start w/ new cultures? Please HELP! Thanks 🙂

    • How is your brew now? Sounds like some of your yeast may have died off – however, since they are often present in the air “wild”, they ought to come back in a few cycles.

  74. I have a similar question, can you put your scobies in a hotel that the top is sealed? Like a jar with a rubber sealable lid? I also had another question; if I have a scoby that is large from a bigger jar that I was using to brew, can I cut it in half or smaller pieces?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Aaron. Yes, you can store your cultures in a closed jar, though I recommend using a plastic or glass lid rather than a metal lid to avoid rust. Yes, you may cut a culture in order to start 2 batches.

  75. Hi Hannah! I hope you are well. It’s been awhile since we’ve spoken. I just got a scoby a couple weeks back from a friend and my first batch is ready to bottle. I was just perusing your site for tips.

    My question is, what is a vinegar eel? That sounds horrid! 🙂

    • Since you aren’t drinking the KT in your Hotel, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you are using some of it as starter liquid, then you can use less. If you want to reduce the acidity, then add nutrient solution (sweet tea) to the Hotel next time you need to add liquid.

  76. Hi Hannah,
    I have a question about the hotel. I have a two scoby’s in the hotel but it seems to be taking a long time to make a new scoby. I have it covered with a cloth like you said in your advance video. Should I make new tea and change it out with what is in the jar? Hope this makes sense. I want to make more scoby’s just in case I need more. I have given away 2 already from when I was doing batch brews. I have a continuous brewer now which I love and my oh my has that baby grown like crazy. I just don’t think my hotel is doing very good. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks…oh I LOVE your site. So much great info. I refer to it alot and gave your site to both people I gave scoby’s too.

    • Hi Penny – If you want to grow more culture more quickly, then add some nutrient solution to the hotel as well. That will stimulate the yeast and boost the fermentation process.

      Thanks for sharing Kombucha Kamp with your friends =)

  77. Hi Hannah, I received a scoby from a friend and found your website. I now have three gallons brewing at a time. I am experimenting with different flavored teas. My favorite is Ginger Peach. I now bottle them like beer! I bought bottles, caps and a capper. It’s fun and delicious hobby. Thanks for you website, it was very useful.


  78. I have my scobys in a hotel but I was told to keep them in the fridge. They have been there for about 2 months. Are they ruined or can I still use them? How long can they keep in the fridge too?

    • Hi Michael,

      Keeping them in the fridge for a short time doesn’t ruin them, but it does make them go to sleep. Just take your SCOBY Hotel out of the fridge, leave out with a cloth cover and allow them to wake up naturally over time. Then if you need one, it will be ready instead of requiring a few batches to awaken. SCOBYs cannot go “bad” so I always leave mine at room temp and allow the living stuff to keep percolating in there.

      P & L,


  79. Hi Bev,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree that the SCOBY needs air to propogate, but as a storage option, I still believe it is okay to have a lid on your jar.

    Now, that said, COMMON SENSE is important. If you see rust on your lid, just like with any food preparation, you should immediately replace your equipment. Most metal lids have a lining to prevent this kind of scenario, but if you are using just a straight metal lid, you are right Bev, that has to be monitored closely!

    But again, with any food, you must inspect your equipment regularly.



  80. Hi EveryOne,

    If you plan to give away or use your SCOBY from the hotel to make more KT you should always keep it covered with a breathable cloth secured with a tie or rubber band. The SCOBY needs air to stay healthy!

    Metal tops should not be used because condensation can form and drip from the top into your hotel.

    Great video just an important point of clarification.

    Peace, Love and Harmony,

  81. Hi Sara B,

    As long as it remained wet the whole time, your SCOBY should be fine. However, it will likely take a longer time for the first brew to mature, then maybe even a few brew cycles to completely "wake up" all the yeast and bacteria and repopulate the SCOBY completely.

    Thanks for the compliment!

  82. I just found your blog for the first time today. What a great resource!!
    I was brewing my own kombucha for a while, and stopped when I moved to a new apartment. I put my scoby's in a glass jar with some kombucha and have had them in the fridge for 10 months. Do you think they'll still brew?

  83. Hi Lindsay,

    Just keep them covered in mature KT (or even add some sweet tea if you want) and they'll last basically forever. 🙂


  84. Hi Hannah! How long can I keep my scoby hotel? I have about 3 in there right now and am not sure when I will brew next. How long can I keep them without them going bad? Thanks!

  85. Hi Anonymous,

    I keep 2-3 cultures in my 1-gallon sized brewing batches. The more cultures that are in the vessel, the faster the fermentation and the less Kombucha Tea because of the liquid the cultures displace.

    For the Hotel, I'd keep 3-5 as backup unless you plan on doing experiments with different types of tea, or herbs.

    As you grow more cultures, you can trade out the older ones for newer ones.

  86. Dear Melissa,
    I'm wondering how many SCOBY's can be used at the same time in a gallon Jar, to make some Tea- filled with one gallon water with the approtpriate amount of brewed tea and sugar? I have my origional SCOBY in the jar as well as it's offspring. Both of them are there, IS THIS TOO MANY and if not, how many more can I leave in the Jar??

  87. Thank you very much for your help, Hannah! Formerly I took per 1,2 liter Kombucha or SCOBY-tea: 1 L water, 10 g loose tea (60 % green + 30 % black + additionally 10 % mate or lapacho), 80-100 g sugar and 0.2 Liter nutrient solution. In future I will reduce the sugar amount and advance the amount of nutrient solution. Thanks 🙂


  88. Halo Kathrin! Wilkommen! Okay, my German is not that great – so thank you for sharing your comment in English 😉

    Because the cultures in the SCOBY Hotel are not there to make more Kombucha, it is okay to have less sugar. This allows the yeast to relax and further cultivates the bacteria (which makes for great starter liquid!)

    I would make your Kombucha recipe in accordance to the size of your vessel – if you keep the cultures in a 1 gallon vessel, you will want to fill it half way (1/2 gal. water, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tea bags)

    It is taking my brain a minute to figure out the conversion – why aren't we all on metric?? 😉

    Also, based on the conversion, it sounds like you are using double the amt of sugar (200g=1 cup – 1 gal=4 litres – so divide by 4 means 50g of sugar per litre) PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG!

    For 1 litre, you'd want 1/2 litre of nutrient solution (1/2 litre of water, 25g of sugar, and 8g of tea). Hope that helps and that my math is right =)

    • i have a question please, why does the gallon container need to be filled only half? i have been filling mine 3/4 or a little more and i dont want to mess up my culture if thi would hurt it.
      Thank you so much for this blog it is great


      • Thank you for your kind words Maria! You can fill the SCOBY Hotel as full as you like. We suggest leaving a little room for air flow to keep the SCOBYs happy.

  89. Hi Hannah, thank you so much for your tips and videos! I have a small SCOBY hotel, too, but I wonder if there might be too less sugar in, when there are so many SCOBYs in. Usually I take 100 g sugar per 1 l KT. Do you know a rule of thumb, how much sugar I need (per SCOBY)? Thx!

    Cheers from Germany,

  90. Hi Marie,

    Thank you for your photo. The black spots could be tea leaves. Could some tea have gotten into the brew? The black spots seem to be inside the SCOBY rather than on top of the SCOBY where mold would grow.

    Please provide some closer photos, from a side view and I'll have a better look 🙂

    I'd love to hear about your brewing process to see if it could be anything else. Email me the deets at

    ☮ & ♥


    • my mothers also develop like a dark scum slimmy like, i use loose leaf tea and i have come to the conclusion that it is tea dust that gets poured in the tea/sugar solution. you could avoid this by pouring your tea through a coffee filter. I don’t because it doesn’t bother me but its like in between the layers it looks like the scum that forms on top of the soup when you are simmering bones and easily removed with your fingers.

    • I’ve noticed that scobys often develop black places, or brown, when introduced to a new environment or a new batch of tea is introduced to the culture. My thought is that when a scoby is put in contact with a new solution[ one that it wasn’t born in], parts of it die, as the scoby becomes extremely habituated to it’s culture conditions. However, I don’t think this is a bad thing as long as the tea is nutritive and free of toxins. The scoby is adaptive, and will become stronger for the experience. When I first experienced this, I was depressed, thinking I had failed this beautiful life form. I’ve seen this happen many times now, and know that this is how a scoby behaves and adapts to changes.

  91. Hi Sandra! I'd definitely leave it out. You will come home to a fat, happy SCOBY and lots of great starter liquid to start your next batch. Just make sure you leave plenty of liquid for the culture so it doesn't dry out.

  92. Hi – I'll be out of the country for 11 days next month. Can I put the SCOBY in the fridge or would you leave it in the 'hotel' in room temperature? Thank you – Sandra

  93. HI! Thank you for your wonderful blog! I am a seasoned kombucha maker, but I have always used black tea + herbal tea. You have given me quite a few new things to try 🙂
    Thanks again!

  94. Thank you for all the wonderful info! I first made kombucha five years ago, but have never used green tea or fresh fruit and jams- always black tea plus herbal tea. Thanks again!

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