Top 5 Signs of a Healthy SCOBY and Kombucha Brew

A healthy SCOBY and brew are easy to determineBrewing Kombucha at home is a fun and easy process. However, to the newbie, the Kombucha brewing process can be fraught with uncertainty, mostly due to lack of information. Oftentimes the mere sight of a healthy SCOBY alone is enough to inspire shudders of revulsion to the uninitiated.

Like most hobbies, the more you brew, the greater your skill set. With experience comes familiarity but first you must learn to “speak Kombucha.” Heck – you might end up like us, singing to your cultures and calling them your Boochie Babies! Coochie coo Boochie boo!

Since a healthy 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 SCOBY and Kombucha brew.


smell is one way to determine a healthy SCOBY or Kombucha brew

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 SCOBY and KT. If you store your Kombucha 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.


healthy SCOBY growth is demonstrated

Healthy SCOBY Growth

One of the most obvious signs of a health Kombucha brew is the formation of a new healthy 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.

CLICK HERE for more about Brewing Times for All Ferments

CLICK HERE for Winter Brewing Tips

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.”


Below a healthy SCOBY will appear tendrils of Kombucha yeast

Yeast Activity

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 achieving carbonation in Kombucha if you suspect yours is out of balance.


checking pH can help determine a healthy SCOBY and brew

Protective pH

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 microorganisms 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.

CLICK HERE for more on pH and Kombucha

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.”


a healthy Kombucha brew will lighten in color

Lightens in Color

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.

CLICK HERE for more on Teas to Use with Kombucha

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Remember! If you are using green or white tea, the brew will be lighter in color when started. This means that 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.


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! 🙂

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Responses to Top 5 Signs of a Healthy SCOBY and Kombucha Brew

  1. Hi! I don’t believe my scoby formed a new baby scoby but it did create the disk on top and it was quite thick and looked like a second one but when I took it out to try and pull it apart there was only one. It still tasted good just don’t know if I did something wrong or if it’s okay to still drink? Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • The daughter will lightly fuse together with the mother. Sometimes it will come off as its own layer, other times will will be fused more tightly to the mother. Simply use that same SCOBY in the next batch and another will form.

  2. I have a quick question. I have been using 10-12 bags of tea to one gallon with 1 cup of sugar. Will the extra strong batch of tea hurt the scoby in any way? I’ve also been experimenting with coffee kombucha. Could use a bit of guidance on the amount of coffee I should be using for a gallon jar. Currently I use 3/4 cup of grounds to a French press and let it brew for 10 minutes. Is this a bit much? Thanks for your help. Thank you for the awesome resource you provide to us nubies.

    • Sounds like you enjoy a stronger flavored brew! Use the amount that makes it delicious. Too much tea can sometimes cause the yeast to oversour but if you are not finding that in your case, then they are probably used to the amount you are feeding them. For the coffee, like the tea, we can use less than what we would normally consume per cup and yield delicious flavors. Try starting with 1/3 cup of ground coffee per 1 quart of water (we use the short cut method as well for this brew, then dilute with cold water). P 230 of The Big Book of Kombucha has the recipe for Kombuffee.

  3. I’m putting some fruit (pineapple) in my primary batch in a two gallon vessel. I have a scoby from the last batch that sits on top and covers the whole surface. I like this because it prevents any fruit from coming in contact with air. However, there is air of some kind forming under the scoby and lifting the middle of the scoby up. I am continuously pressing the center down and releasing this air and foam. I’m wondering what this air is? co2? Is it caused by the fruit? Is it a good or bad thing?

  4. Hi! I’m brewing Jun from a Scoby I got from a co-worker. I’m having the brewing vessel sit on my stove (it has a pilot light) and wondering if maybe the bottom warmth is why it smells yeasty. I started with a half gallon brew (since the Scoby lost some juice in transport – my car had a vinegar smell when I got home LOL) for the first week. Over the weekend, I made a second half gallon of tea and put it into a gallon vessel. I added the scoby and topped it with the Jun from the first batch. Drank the extra. It tasted fine, maybe a hair sweet, but there was a lot of yeast in the bottom of my glass. When I decanted it I did try to keep most of the extra yeast out of the transfer to the new jar.

    • Yes – JUN yeast grow cities on the bottom of the jar – that is normal. Likely due to different organisms that are naturally present in the raw honey.

      • I’ve since moved it to its CB jar (2.5 gal) and it’s very happy! The SCOBY, which I was a tad worried about, it growing like a beast! Smell is less yeasty and taste is still a hair sweet, but it’s only been in its new jar a week.

  5. Hi Hannah.

    Im doing my third brew but this time the baby is dry and wrinkled on top and is going a little bit up the sides of my container. It has fermented for 2 weeks now and it smells great. Do you think its good or bad?


  6. Hi! I noticed that when I drink cooled kombucha it taste sweeter and less ácid than the same, but not cooled kombucha. You know why is that ?

    • The ice cubes melt and shift the pH of the Kombucha – similar to adding an ice cube to a glass of scotch or other liquor, as the water integrates, it changes the flavor profile.

  7. Hello,
    i just started making my kombucha 3 days ago. Everything is going great . The mother scoby is already almost entirely covering the top.
    My question is …
    I am wanting to start a continuous brew. How do I know when my scoby is strong enough to do that? My kombucha is already in a 3 gallon crock with a spigot but I only did 1 gallon of sugar/black tea per instructions of the company I bought the scoby from and read that u should never do a continuous brew with less than 2 gallons tea. Anyway, i dont know if i can start on this second round and just leave the scoby in the crock once i empty the first brew and just pour 2 gallons in. I really do not feel comfortable handling the scoby. I am afraid of contaminating it.
    So basically, can I go straight from single brew to continous brew without handling scoby ?

    • We’d recommend leaving the fermented Kombucha tea in the vessel and add another gallon of sweet tea to the entire vessel. Wait another 7-14 days (depending on taste preference and climate) and then start the CB process from there. You can learn more about Continuous Brewing here.

  8. In the middle of changing my kombucha from 1/4 coconut sugar to 1/2 coconut sugar (easing my scobies away from cane)- one of my gallons just looks like a watery blob of cider color!
    The ones with 1/4 coconut sugar are perfect- but the second i went to 1/2 and 1/2- either the process broke down or its normal for this gallon to look totally out of wack.
    Anyone have experience/advice?

  9. Hi! I’m brewing my kombucha for the first time. My mother SCOBY is on the bottom, my baby SCOBY was growing on the surface and it looked very nice and quite thick. After 8 days my baby SCOBY sank and it is now in the middle of my jar and I’ve noticed that second baby SCOBY is forming (very, very thin, but it’s there). What happened? Is it ok? Should I throw it out or leave it? It is still to sweet to me, so I wanted to wait a few days longer. My kombucha smells and looks nice.

  10. Hi! I’ve been brewing kombucha for over 3 months now. I sarted a new brew (in a place with a different Weatherford) with a scoby i got from the old one. It’s been 3 weeks now and the favor seems off, not fermented even though the weather Is warmer in the new location. Is there something wrong or should I give it more Time?

    • Whenever changing locations, it can take a few batches for the brew to ferment at the same speed as the previous location. The reason is that in the old location, a “biome” of yeast and other organisms was created and that biome doesn’t currently exist in the new place – give it a few rounds and it will catch up!

  11. Hi! I have a floating renegade tea leaf at the bottom of my brew a couple inches from the bottom with heavy yeast growth all over it like mold. But it’s under liquid very deep and the top is sealed and healthy as possibly can be. Is this normal for yeast to grow on the floaters inside? And I know I missed ONE on filtering 🙂

  12. I’m new to brewing kombucha and after 4-5 brews, I see a cobweby glob that reaches from my scoby to the bottom of the jar. What is this, is it ok to drink?

  13. Hello. I had 2 brewing vessels brewing kombucha at the same time, about 3 inches apart. Unfortunately one vessel is contaminated with vinegar eels, the other vessel seems to be free of them. Do you think its possible the other brew got contaminated? I mean being brewed so close to one another is it possible that the eels could have jumped to the other one and they just have yet to grow enough to be seen by the naked eye?
    Thanks for any help.

    • Ack! So frustrating! Vinegar eels do not “fly”. They can only get into the brew through direct transmission. It is possible that one vessel has them and the other doesn’t. Or it may be that they both have them but they haven’t proliferated enough to be visible to the naked eye at this time. Unfortunately, there is no way to salvage the brew at all – everything has to be disposed of. The vessel needs to be soaked/cleaned with bleach water, including the spigot. Then extra vigilance is required to monitor your brew to prevent them from coming back.

  14. Hi! I’ve been brewing for a few months and it’s going amazingly well. This last batch I bottled a few days ago and just put in the fridge this morning. When I bottled my brew, it was all nicely slightly cloudy as usually, but when I looked at my bottles this morning, they are all clear! I’ve never seen this before. Is anything wrong? There seem to be living cultures in the bottles. Could it be the heat (weather)?

    • Yeast are temperature sensitive. Once you put the bottles in the fridge the yeast essentially “crash” to the bottom of the bottle. That’s why it now seems to be clear though you ought to see a layer of sediment at the bottom. If you take them out of the fridge, that will allow the yeast to “reactivate” which can help increase effervescence.

  15. I have a batch about 3 days old (1 1/2 gallon) – part of the new scoby growth is lifting out of the brew though most is sitting right on top of the tea – is this okay?

  16. Hallo

    I bought 2 Scoby’s , and I tried to make My Kombucha tee with 2 smalls Scoby ‘s in a jar , but the baby Scoby hat mold on it ( a very small blou and a very small dark one) now my question is ,I should only the baby Scoby throwing out ? Or the mothers too?
    I mean I must buy a new Scoby ? Or I can keep the 2 mother ‘s that I bought at first?


  17. Hi there,

    I’m on day 7 of my first brew ever. First time jitters, I’m wondering if everything is okay. Tasted it today and it tasted slightly sour. Might want it a little more sour. It smells vinegary/yeasty. The top is slightly bluish/white along with some blobs floating, and I saw the mother scoby floating towards the top. Any help or suggestions at all would be great.

  18. Have made about 5 batches and all have had the 5 good signs. Just decanted #6, everything looked, smelled and tasted good but was a syrupy viscosity. Is this a problem?

  19. I am on day 3 of brewing and it doesn’t look like anything is happening yet,is this how it should look?

    • The new SCOBY will grow in gradually – first some dots might appear and then finally it connects together like a thin skin before thickening up. We have some great photos of the progression in our book, The Big Book of Kombucha. You are also welcome to send photos to our customer service team.

  20. This is my second brew and i do not see any yeast (the brown strands). My first brew had a bunch of them. Is this a problem? If so how do I remedy it for my next brew?

    • Yeast are floating all around us so they will come back to your brew naturally. If you need to increase the yeast, then take the starter for your next batch from the BOTTOM (only do this rarely!) where the yeastie beasties gather. That will help them to increase naturally. Use this technique with caution as its easy to over yeast the brew which will cause off flavors and poor SCOBY growth.

  21. I’ve been brewing kombucha for several years now and have a question. I have a SCOBY hotel and it’s been growing lots of SCOBYs. there are several that are sitting on the bottom of the hotel, not floating. they’re thin and folded up. The others “float” and look good. Are the scobys that don’t float still healthy?

    • Floating doesn’t mean healthy or not healthy when it comes to SCOBYs. Floating occurs when the yeast have created CO2 that then “lifts” the mother to connect with the new layer forming on top. Our test for which SCOBY to keep vs let go is density. If you can pinch the culture between your forefinger and thumb and its dense and doesn’t tear easily, then that is SCOBY we want to keep. If it tears easily, then compost or trash.

  22. First, Hananah thank you for a wonderful informative website!! I have been a frequent reader since I found it.
    I have been batch brewing about two months now. We live in a warm climate and keep the house at 78 with AC. I have been letting them brew 7 days. The first few weeks they came out really good but then last week all four batches turned out rather flat tasting ( no zing) and sourish but bitter. What could be going wrong? What happens if they are too warm. That room was getting very warm. Or, I was leaving the babies (scoby) with the mothers in the new batches. Too many in one jar?? And how long should you use the same scoby before you retire it ???
    Thank you for all time and help !!!

  23. My brew scared the crap out me last night at about 1am, and has been gurgling since I got home from work tonight. I’m about 60 days into a continuous brew that’s had 3 harvests. I searched “gurgling kombucha” because I thought something might be wrong. Glad to hear my colony is thriving!

  24. Thank you so much for this extremely lovely article!!

    Also great to know I’m not the only one who sings to her ‘Boochie Babys!’ 😉

  25. Good Day,
    I am new to this. This is my fifteenth day after making a start from a bottle of Kombucha. Scoby is white with thinner areas showing through,not seeing any strings. Now I am going to feed it again with a cup of sugar and a couple tea spoons of green tea and black tea. Right?

  26. I wanted to say “thank you” for all your advice/post’s. I am brewing my first batch and ready for flavoring tomorrow.Every question I had you have answered and I’m sure I will have more. I am excited to try my first glass.

  27. As a long time brewer of mead, I was intrigued when presented by the opportunity to brew Kambucha and Jun by the local tea shop.

    As I educate myself on the topic I am finding it a perfect pairing to my mead brewing hobby.

    Thanks for all the great resources you have provided on your site.

  28. I have had a ‘continuous’ brew going since mid-December. I must be lucky because every batch has turned out great! I’ve even begin to experiment with substituting honey for some of the sugar. I don’t sing to my SCOBY but he’s has gotten big! They grown up so fast!

  29. i have a question concerning my kombucha. I noticed after after having set my kombucha aside for a while and leaving it in a hotel that when I continued brewing, it had a peculiar taste. The taste was more present after the second fermentation, almost slightly soapy. I rinse all the materials I use with filtered water and vinegar so I am not sure where this taste is coming from. It usually tasted that way more often if a fruit was used in the second fermentation. Also my flavored bottled buchas all have seemed to grow a scoby during 2nd fermentation as well? Why might this be?

    • Based on the information you’ve provided, we are not sure why it would have a soapy flavor. Sometimes off flavors are produced when unclean or well water is used as it can adversely affect the yeast.

      As for the SCOBY in 2F, that is healthy and normal! It is a sign of an active brew. You can toss them back like oyster shooters for a bacterial boost or filter them out.

  30. So glad I found your site. You are wonderful:) I received a few mamas from an acquaintance. The taste after 7 days was to my liking-quite tart which surprised me as I see many people brew for much longer. Judging by many comments I’ve read I think I’ll try to let it go for a few weeks this time. Thanks for all the great information.

  31. I’m brewing in one of the crocks I purchased from you. I love kombucha. I noticed last brew, that my scoby was getting dry on top in places, so I peeled this away. Under the dry, a new scoby had formed which I thought was very interesting. Is this normal. I keep checking to make sure my scoby is staying moist. Thanks for all of your help.

    • The new layer always forms at the top, though the top may also dry out if left long enough but it will protect the layers beneath. In CB we see many layers of culture fused together to create one giant mamma!

  32. I have two separate SCOBY hotels. One SCOBY is white in color and floats at the top of the jar when I add it to a Kombucha batch. The other SCOBY has a pinker hue and sinks to the bottom of the jar. I just started two new separate batches last night, and the white SCOBY that floats is already fermenting. As usual, the pink SCOBY is hanging out at the bottom of the jar and I don’t see any bubbles yet like in the other batch. Is there something wrong with the pink bottom-dwelling SCOBY?

    • Sink or float – it doesn’t matter where the mother culture lives, the new layer always forms across the top. The color of the culture will change over time due to the tannins in the tea.

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

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

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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?

  40. 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.

  41. 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?


  42. 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 =)

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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

  46. 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?


  47. 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?

  48. 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?

  49. 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?

  50. 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. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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!

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

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

      • Honestly the best book on the planet. Almost every question you have is covered in Kombucha Mana’s book. I read it daily, it’s entertaining, witty, and takes the technical aspects of the science about a SCOBY and puts it in simple terms. You’ll become a Kombucha Barista in no time.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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

  64. 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!

  65. 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

  66. 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.


    • 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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!

    • 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?

  69. 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.

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

  71. 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.

  72. 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… 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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 >^.-.^<

  76. 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.

  77. 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!!

  78. 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?

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

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

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

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

  83. 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?

    • 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.

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

  85. 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.

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