How to Brew Kombucha

Photo credit: 
johnathanpberger on flickr
Weird science project or tasty drink? It's both!

What is THAT!" hollered Josie when I opened the box we'd just gotten in the mail. Floating in the plastic bag inside was a whitish disk with brownish threads hanging from it that looked more than a bit like a very flat jellyfish.

"That," I said, "is a kombucha...thingie," I finished lamely. How to explain to a child what a symbiotic collection of bacteria and yeast (aka "scoby") is? Because that's what we'd just gotten in the mail, a "thingie" commonly called a kombucha mushroom, even though it's not a mushroom at all.

"It looks like an alien!" yelled Jo. Maybe it is, added her father. One thing led to another, and we named our scoby Gonzales--Alien Gonzales, get it? Never mind. Suffice it to say that as quickly as we could, we put Gonzales to work in a gallon jar of strong sugared tea on the counter, where a Gonzales descendent has been happily brewing ever since for the last two years.

Why, you may be asking yourself, do you have an alien-like organism floating in a vat of sweet tea in your kitchen? Ah, so that it will turn the tea into kombucha, a drink with both amazing flavor and amazing powers for healing. Or at least so its adherents (and a couple of studies) say.

I'm one of its adherents. When I'm regularly drinking kombucha, my digestion is better, my skin improves and my blood sugar seems more stable. When I first started drinking it, my gray hair even started coming back dark, but that was a passing trend at best. All of this is completely subjective in my case; I have no clear proof that drinking kombucha did any of this definitively and of course Your Mileage May Vary. But I can tell you definitively that kombucha is delicious and cheap to make yourself. You can pay upwards of $3 for a small bottle of it at the health food store, or for the price of five plain old tea bags and a cup of sugar make a big batch of it yourself for pennies a bottle.

Making Kombucha
Gonzales. Ain't he handsome?The first step in brewing kombucha is to obtain a scoby; see Gonzales there to the left on a salad plate waiting to be put in a new jar of tea. I bought Gonzales mail order, but here's the thing about scobies: Every time you brew kombucha you get a new one. (That's not actually Gonzales; it's something like Gonzales XXIV.) It should be easy if you live in a larger area to find someone with a spare scoby to give away through Freecycle or Craigslist--heck, just email your friends and I bet you'll turn one up. If, however, you're out in the middle of scoby-less territory, I bought mine at Kombucha.org, which is also a good source of information. You can also try the International Kombucha Exchange, where you'll find people who will give scobies away. When you get your scoby, make sure the person gives you at least a cup of kombucha as well.

Once you have your scoby, you'll want to keep it in the fridge in the kombucha it came in until you're ready to use it. Store it in glass if at all possible; plastic can leach into the kombucha, and metal is reactive with its acids. I have a Corningware container I keep mine in.

To brew your kombucha you need:

  • 3 1/2 quarts of filtered water--the chlorine in tap water can hurt your scoby! Filter the water through a Brita or other water filter, let it sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate (happy thought, no?) or use bottled water. Doesn't have to be distilled, just non-chlorinated.
  • 1 cup regular old white sugar
  • 5 regular old black tea bags--you can get as fancy as you like with the tea, but I use garden variety restaurant supply tea bags. Red Rose, Lipton, whatever. AVOID ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED TEAS like Earl Grey or Constant Comment. If you want to experiment with flavor, try different kinds of tea like green or white, or substitute a bag of herbal or spice tea for one of the black tea bags. I like putting in a bag of Yogi Tea. Just make sure the bulk of the tea is camellia sinensis--the plain old tea plant--in some form.
  • A large pot
  • A gallon-sized glass jar
  • A piece of cloth that will cover the top of the jar
  • A rubber band or something similar that is big enough to go over the mouth of the jar
  • Your scoby and at least 1/2 cup of leftover kombucha from your last batch

Be sure your hands and equipment are very clean. Bring the water to a boil in the large pot. Once it's come to a boil, turn off the heat, dump in the sugar and add the five tea bags. Set your timer for 15 minutes and take out the tea bags once it goes off. Put the lid on the pot and leave it to cool. I usually leave it overnight.

Once your tea is cool, pour it into the glass jar. Wash your hands well, take up your scoby gently and slide it into the tea. Add at least a half-cup of already-brewed kombucha. If you don't do this, the tea won't be acidic enough and it'll mold. Cover the top with the cloth and fasten the cloth with the rubber band. It's important to put the rubber band on to keep out fruit flies, and the kombucha needs air so don't be tempted to just put a regular lid on. Put the jar in a dark, warm place in your kitchen. I don't go out of my way; I have a hallway pantry where I do all my ferments and it's not especially warm but it is out of the sun. Cooler places mean a longer ferment time, that's all. Forget about your kombucha for at least a week.

After a week, check on your jar. You should see a new scoby forming at the top. If you see green mold, your tea wasn't acidic enough. Take out the scoby and start over. If the mold is just on the tea, not the scoby, you won't have to throw the culture out too, but if it's on the scoby, you're back to square one. This has only happened to me once in two years.

Your kombucha is through brewing when the new "baby" scoby is at least 1/8" thick. You will know in time how long to leave your kombucha on to brew; the longer you leave it, the more sour it gets, and you'll learn how long to leave it to get it just right for your taste. We like it half-sweet half-sour and fizzy.

Oh yes! The fizzy part. Or:

Storing Your Kombucha
Yes, kombucha is naturally carbonated! To keep the carbonation in, I use bottles called EZ Caps. Some imported beers come in bottles like this--Grolsch is one--so if you know any beer connoisseurs see if you can talk them into drinking a case for you and saving the bottles. Freecycle might also be a source for these bottles. (The green one in the picture at the top is a Grolsch bottle a friend gave me.) If not, you can buy them at most wine and beer brewing supply houses. They're not too expensive and you'd be amazed how handy they are; I don't know what I did without EZ Caps around.

In any event, whatever you decide to do, store your kombucha in glass. Metal is reactive and plastic can leach into the kombucha. If you don't want to use EZ Caps I'd suggest mason jars with plastic lids, but I can't say that it'd keep the fizz in very well. Keep it in the fridge. It stores pretty much indefinitely. Over a long time it may grow a tiny scoby at the top of the bottle, and it may get more sour, so keep that in mind. If it gets too sour, it makes a good vinegar substitute in salad dressings. (DO NOT use it in pickling/canning; it has too variable a pH.)

Drinking Kombucha
Some people find that they're sensitive to kombucha at first; it can give you stomach rumbles and be fairly, uh, cleansing to the bowels shall we say. It's suggested you drink no more than two ounces a day until you know how your body handles it. I have worked up to being able to drink a whole 16 oz. EZ Cap bottle at a go, mostly in the summertime because it's so dang refreshing, with no ill effects, though when I first drank it I did have a bit of a rumbly tummy--not bad, and not at all painful, but my internal flora were definitely adjusting. That's to the good; properly brewed kombucha is one of the best of the probiotics.

But mostly, kombucha tastes great! It's healthy, delicious and cheap. What more could you want from a science project?

By the way: If you're interested in probiotics and raw foods, be sure to check out the Health Evolution's Living and Raw Foods course. Great information.

Comments

Anhata's picture

My kitchen is pretty cold in winter since it faces north and it takes forever for kombucha to ferment all by itself. I did some internet reading and found that there are several ways to keep the tea warm enough to encourage the scoby without being too warm. The method I use is a reptile tank warming pad (available in 'most any pet store) that would normally go underneath a terrarium. I put it on the kitchen counter, put a pot holder down and put the glass jar containing the tea and scoby on top of it. A towel would probably work just as well between the warmer and the jar, if not better. It still takes about eight to ten days, but without it, it'd be two weeks at least.

I used green tea in mine.

Anhata
www.familynaturally.com
Your Family's General Store, Naturally

Peter the Brewer's picture

I've been brewing at home for about 6 months now and after reading others posts thought I'd share some of experiences. First of all after brewing a gallon at a time I got tired of doing batch after batch and bought a 2.8 gl dispenser at target.com. (http://www.target.com/Siberia-Dispenser-2-8-gal/dp/B000GTFMNA/ref=sc_ri_...) This has been fantastic as I can brew 5-6 liters at a time. I also purchase 1 liter ez top bottles from Ikea for $2 a piece which for me are perfect for both consumption and sharing with friends. I couldn't find them online but my local Ikea has them readily available as I've gone back 3 or 4 times now to get more. I prefer a very carbonated Kombucha so I fill my bottles to the very top and store them for about 3 to 4 weeks at room temp. I'm experimenting now with the same storage time refrigerated to see if there's any noticeable difference. Well that's it for now. Please ask more if you want and please share your experiences, recipes and thoughts. I'd appreciate it.

KPConley's picture

Lynn,

Thank you so much...this article is great! Do you try to follow NT also?

I have been wanting to make my own Kombucha for a while now...my daughter is hooked on it and loves when I buy it at my organic market, but it is just way too expensive that way.

Hey with a little luck, she will be making it before long ;-)

Kathy

Jerod's picture

www.nicksnaturalnook.com is an ebay store that sells kombucha cultures and kits and kefir, yogurts, you name it. Pretty nifty store they got there. And it's all organic too which is important to me. Cheers.

Guest's picture

I'm just learning to brew my own Kombucha after buying the bottled product for years. I would like to be able to make flavored Kombucha in addition to drinking it as is. I would love to add spirolina or freshly pressed juices. Any recommendations? What step in the brewing process can I do this?

Thanks!

amy tran's picture

wow - i love how detailed your instructions are - can't wait to get started!! one question though - where do you recommend i find a 1 gallon glass jar w/ a WIDE mouth (i assume it has to be pretty wide so you can gently put the scoby in there)?? thanks so much!

Bernie's picture

I know you can bottle kombucha in EZ-cap bottles, but has anyone tried to bottle it like a beer with the caps and beer bottles?? I would be interested in any info on this. Thanks

Lynn's picture

A friend of mine (Hi, Ima!) puts slices of ginger in during the brewing process for a very spicy kombucha, but if you want to add spirulina or juice, I'd do it just before you drink it.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

i bottle it like beer, after it is done fermenting, i strain it and funnel it into empty beer bottles. I let it sit for a week or so until there is pressure and it is very fizzy, like soda or beer. but it does produce a mini scooby so i am looking for ways to stop that so only the c02 producing yeast is active.

KPConley's picture

When I make my yogurt, I have to let it sit for at least 24 hrs for it to set up better or it is runny...in the winter anyway.

I am only 7 mos into switching my family over to NT, so still working out the kinks in the house and attitudes...LOL

I found a freezer on Freecycle, now I will have to work out the warm spot in the house.

I do have a question though...how warm would be too warm to make kombucha?

Kathy

Lynn's picture

NT (Nourishing Traditions) made a huge difference in our family's health; until my big event last spring I was doing well, and I'd have kept on doing well if they hadn't given me a drug I'm sensitive to.

I'm glad you found the article useful. :)

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

lisarose's picture

hello!
you can find the 1 gallon large jars on e-bay. i spotted several for approx. $11. + shipping.

also i just drove down to santa barbara and set my son up with two 2 1/2 gallon Ceramic Water Crock Dispensers $18.95 + shippping. that can be found at foryourwater.com. ((what better health policy can you provide ??!!!) it is truly amazing the health benefits of this ancient tea brewing method!!

this container has a spigot and allows the continuous kombucha brewing method.

either way it is fun to brew.
i am on my 7th continuous batch and although i do not feel i have gotten it "RIGHT" as the tasty commercial brews,
we have been very happy with our results.
which vary...........but i consider this a self taught class so i am kind to myself.
but yes after completed and placing in airtight bottles (i use my cases of commercially made brew) and setting aside for 3-5 days the carbonation matches that of the commercially brewed kombucha teas!!!
be well and brew well! lisa rose
p.s. i have always used white vinegar as a disinfectant in my pots and brewing containers!
and ZERO molds have appeared!
and regarding fruitflies DO NOT USE cheese cloth EVEN if in many layers!! fruitflies can drop their eggs thru!! been there done that!!

Lynn's picture

The scoby doesn't seem to mind being bent and wiggled a little, just don't bother it too much. Good luck!

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

I've bottled mine in beer bottles quite successfully. I am still experimenting on the perfect timing of it all. Right now I fill the bottles to about 1/2 inch from the top, cap them, and then leave out of the fridge for several days. This allows more carbonation to occur for that sparkling goodness. After I feel it's been long enough, I'll transfer to the fridge until they get drunk down. Experiment for yourself what works best in your climate!

This works great but I'd really prefer to use the ez-bottles because I wouldn't have to buy caps or a bottle topper.

Lynn's picture

I'm in Oregon, and it's never been too warm here for kombucha, at least at my house. I couldn't say!

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Anhata's picture

The temp of the room will affect the kombucha, obviously, but it's the temperature of the tea that determines how well it ferments. I've seen numbers thrown around from the mid 60 degrees to high 80 degrees Farenheight. Somewhere within that range is best for the colony. Any higher than 100 degrees and the critters start to die. Hence why you cool the batch down before putting the scoby in.

If you really need to monitor the temp of the tea, you can get a flat temperature stick at a pet store for fish tanks and adhere it to your fermenting jar.

I ended up putting a baker's cooling rack over the terrarium heating pad and putting the glass jars on that. Having some air between made the tea warm but not overly so, a cosy fermenting corner in my otherwise chilly kitchen.

That being said, I have to disclose, I haven't brewed any kombucha this winter. I kept letting it ferment too long and it was too sour to drink. I'm trying to psych myself up to trying it again and pulling it after 6 to 8 days.

Anhata
www.familynaturally.com
Your Family's General Store, Naturally

Guest's picture

if you fill it to the top and there is no oxygen the bacteria should stop producing

AnnieD's picture

I found on another site that 70 deg. to 86 deg, (Farenheit)is supposed to be the Ideal range. My house is usually kept fairly cool, so I covered my jar with a dark colored leg warmer and sat it on the counter next to the refrigerator where the heat from the fridge rises up between the cupboards and the outside of the fridge. Was able to grow a respectable baby in one week.

Guest's picture

Little secret..... If you can't find a good source for a scoby, you can cultivate your own buy using a bottle of the commercial raw kombucha beverages. Select a bottle with a good amount of culture hanging out in the bottom. Substitute the bottle for the culture and follow your recipe. It takes about a week for the culture to start to grow in warm weather, longer in cooler, but trust me, it works. I cultivated mine in this fashion and have been making two gallons or more a month since. Also your local department store will usually have large one gallon and larger glass jars, I have two one gallon and a larger three gallon. Happy Brewing ;)

Lynn's picture

...that this works. Thanks!

Thad's picture

I've done this too. I'm really surprised it took me so long to find reference to someone else doing this!
I just tried it on a lark. I brew beer and have tried making homemade sodas... so I understand the principles of brewing. I just pulled a bottle out of my brewing closet, filled it with hot tap-water, soaked a few tea-bags in it overnight, then poured the dregs of a store-bought Kombucha bottle in it (I drank 4/5ths of the bottle first!)
It sat in my closet for about three weeks... but it worked fabulously. I'm drinking a big glass of it as I write this!

Guest's picture

After the tea ferments for the week or so you add the fruits to the storage containers. Cover the bottom of the bottles with the fruit, and then throw in a bit more to the top. Leave it for at least a day, and when you're ready to drink it you can strain out the fruits.

Guest's picture

Hi,
I use regular canning jars with the rubber lined lids, like the Kerr or Ball jars use. It is great. you actually want the product to sit in an air tight container after it is pulled from the original pot. I store them on the bottom shelf of my fridge and they fit nicely. The air tight seal allows them to carbonate as well.
-Vee

Guest's picture

it works great

Guest's picture

Do you need 1 scoby to brew in the 2.8 gallon jar and if so, do you than double the tea? Or do you just wait till you have 2 scoby's and than double the recipe?
also do you leave the glass lid on or do you still have to put the cloth over the top of it.

Lynn's picture

You can try with just the one scoby and let it sit a little longer; if you have two thinner ones stuck together, just don't peel them off, put them both in--treat them as one. As for the lid, no, you let it breathe. Put the cloth on to keep bugs out, and that's it.

Guest's picture

you dont add any ginger, spirulina, berries, or WHATEVER to your mix until you are ready for bottling! so when you go to pour just add in what you want B4 you bottle and there you have it!

Matt's picture

Here's what I do to make Ginger Kombucha:

I found and purchased a small (6oz.) bottle of pressed ginger juice (Ginger People brand - price $3.39 at whole foods) and stir in a tablespoon of it to each of my 64oz. bottles just after I remove the scobies and before I bottle it. This small bottle is enough for about 6 to 8 gallons of ginger kombucha.

Nata Jackson's picture

So after first Brew is ready you fill bottles, and keep it in the fridge. Do you keep some liquid and kombucha in the jar? Then make new tea and add to the jar? What is the rule for second time?

vince's picture

We brew kombucha quite regularly and have found that it makes nearly any drink taste amazing.

You can drink it hot with ginger and honey for a throat remedy or just a good cupa.

It also mixes well with fresh apple, pear, mango or nearly every type of fruit juice.

Guest's picture

I bottle it with a home brew kit using old/used beer bottles cleaned very well then just recaped, fyi you cant use screw top bottles. It works really well

nutridoc's picture

has anyone tried to use honey to make kombuka-
thanks-
happy holidays-
rich

Lynn's picture

Honey is naturally anti-microbial. You'll kill your symbiote if you try to use honey. Seriously, just use plain white sugar. It's what the symbiote needs.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

What about using agave in the process?

Lynn's picture

Agave is closer to high fructose corn syrup than people realize; it is not the indigenous sweetener we've been led to believe. If you still want to use it, try a batch with a spare scoby. At the rate they multiply, all you'll be out is some time and the cost of the agave.

Guest's picture

This is probably a silly question. But does it have to be white sugar? Or could it be raw sugar that hasn't been processed into white sugar? I am planning on brewing soon and though possibly using raw sugar and if it would affect the scoby positively or negatively?

Karolina's picture

OH NO!! I just put honey in mine two seconds ago, and it is my first batch ever!!!!

Ecclenser's picture

Hello,

I made a small batch of kombucha with sugar and buckwheat honey. It is really fizzing after two weeks and has a little scoby forming on top. Honey contains bacteria, which may compete for the scoby bacteria, however I don't know that it's entirely antibacterial. I added the honey to boiling water, which may have killed any life in the honey without. It smells pretty amazing...

Ecclenser

mokombucha's picture

I found 2 gallon glass containers at walmart for about $13. the opening is very wide and the scoby gets huge.
it works great
i have a question though
My first scoby has a couple little white spots on the edge. it made a perfectly healthy new scoby with my first brew.
I read about the mold being green and black.
is this first brew OK to drink or should I discard it and make another with the new scoby that doesn't have any spots on it?

Lynn's picture

I've seen white spots on mine all the time.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

Hi. I am new to this....if I brew a larger batch how do I change the recipe? My recipe is for 3 quarts, one cup sugar, 4 tea bags....what if I want to brew a gallon or more? What would the recipe be? Do I use more than one scooby?

Lynn's picture

I'm not sure, since I've never done it, but kombucha is not an exact science and you almost always have an extra scoby lying around. I'd double the recipe, use the usual scoby, and just wait twice as long for it to ferment the tea. Good luck!

Guest's picture

I usually use 5-6 tea bags and one cup of raw, organic sugar per gallon and it works very well. That way it's easy to adjust for a smaller or larger batch. So it's one quarter cup of sugar and 1-2 teabags per quart. I've never had a bad batch in over a year using this method brewing 2 gallons every 2 weeks. It's not rocket science and is relativly hard to make a mistake. The two biggest factors to ensure a good batch is to keep everything clean and take the time to make sure the tea is room temperature before adding your scoby, if it's too hot you'll kill off alot of the organisms and it will take much longer to brew or even worse kill the culture completely

Jillm6's picture

It is day 7 of my kombucha brewing process and there is still no scoby! I live in Texas so I hardly imagine that it is a temperature problem.. is my scoby dead? :(

Lynn's picture

Question: Were you trying to grow one using a bottle of raw kombucha? Or are you saying your scoby disappeared?

Guest's picture

One of the BEST sources that I have FINALLY found is http://www.laurelfarms.com/ My daughter-in-love lent me Betsy's book and it explains a lot....but you can go on the link and press "enter" then on the bottom left corner there is a place to press to see detailed instructions. Another box is to print detailed instructions. So far, this beats all. I wonderful friend gave me a scobbi but I tend to question its nutrient level... and everything else I did was contrary to what they spelled out. I'm still drinking it so we'll see. :o) So nice to at least get started. Happy brewing!

Lorraine M's picture

I'm not sure what's going on in there!!
I got a scoby from a friend, and brought it home on a long busride from maryland to new york. (Is is possible it didn't survive the trip?)
I kept it in the fridge before i used it, which was about a week.
When I added my scoby to the tea, it kind of hung out a little lopsided, and it eventually made its way down to the bottom and settled there for a couple days. I would say its been about a week, and now it floated back to the top with what is either a new scoby (very thin) and are both floating kind of sideways.
Can anyone offer some advice?
Thanks! Hopefully I'll make it to the bottling part, and use all the great advice I've read thusfar :-)

SouthScoby's picture

From being in the fridge, it would take a week or more to acclimate to growing mode. Faster from room temp :)
One of the most interesting things about scobys is when they evolve from baby to mother... soon as a new layer begins, as the new mom, that was so recently the baby, gets its thickness, it immediately has a nourishing presence that follows the baby... just watch them... a peek once a day or so.. like if you move them, the new "mom" will vertical-ize or flatten to support her baby. Very cool to see, and enlightening in so many ways to get to know them.

Jeannie Jo Ann's picture

I have to say your post on this has been most helpful, I lost my scoby last fall during a move and have been on the hunt for another ever since, thank you for sharing the links on being able to locate one...

Guest's picture

If a lady is having a baby can she drink kombutcha?
fish

tnbeelady's picture

I have tried setting it in the EZ cap bottles for 5-7 days and then refrigerating and it still has more fizziness right out of the tap than when I bottle it. It always goes flat on me. What am I doing wrong? Is there some magic ph level to start bottling it? Should it be sweet when bottled ( I like my kombucha on the tart side)

I also would like a recipe for loose leaf tea, especially white or green loose leaf for making a gallon at a time.

Guest's picture

I use a large French Press coffee maker. I drop in loose tea. Add hot sweetened water. When the press becomes room temperature, I push down the plunger and add the mix to my Kombusha brew pot. It is 2.5 gal with a spigot. I also started brewing with a bottle of "Original Flavor Kombusha." I am able to bottle about 40 ounces of Kombusha every 3 days.

happy brewing,

john

Guest's picture

Thanks! I scoured the internet to determine how to know when my tea was finished - to no avail. I was so happy for a clear definition on how thick the scoby would be!!! Thanks and happy brewing!!

Joe Galaa's picture

Hello All,
I have been living in Mongolia for a year now, and had to leave my scobies behind!
Does Anyone know where I can find some new ones? Thanks for your Help!

patric's picture

this question is for anyone. i'm on my 3rd batch of kombucha and it seems to be a little vinegary. i've read that it is supposed to have a slight cider taste, but mine is a little on the vinegar side. my mother seems to be healthy and my brewing temp is about 80 during the day. can someone help me with some good advice, thanks

patric's picture

my kombucha is a little vinegary. i know it's supposed to taste and smell a little like cider, but mine is like vinegar. i can't figure out what's wrong... my temp is about 80F and my mother is healthy with no mold. this is my third batch, the first starter batch was delicious and the last two have been a little like vinegar; tasty but vinegary. can you please help, anyone... thank you

Lynn's picture

The longer it sits, the more vinegary it will get. Just take the scoby out sooner next time.

Eirlys's picture

Hiya! Just brewed my first batch (from a store-purchased bottle but I got a nice scoby out of it). I'm sure I left it too long - really wanted alot of carbonation but it's pure vinegar. So, here's MY question: Do I take the scoby out of my brewing jar? I just poured my vinegar, I mean, kombucha (hey, it's only my first batch ;) into my glass bottles and then added more sugared tea to the same scoby in my brewing jar. Should I break up the scoby that grew and put some in my bottles? Can I just leave it where it is and add more sugar tea for next brew. I'm guessing I need to clean the glass jar after each brew so perhaps that's why I would take it out?

Not as long and not as vinegary the next, I hope! Awaiting your wisdom. Thanks!!

patric's picture

i let it brew for 5 days and i have a continual brew,ie: a 2 gal porcelin water dispenser.

Lynn's picture

is to start your brew over. I bottle the entire batch myself and then add a whole new batch of tea. (Same scoby.) Are you doing this? You might put it in a cooler spot, or draw off bits now and again so you get it the sweetness you want it. If you have a strong scoby, or very warm spot, it might just brew super-fast!

patric's picture

i too bottle the whole batch less about 2cups of the tea for a starter and then i brew a whole new batch. i just tasted my third batch and this time i used black tea instead of a green oolong mix and it tastes very good, not vinegary at all; well maybe just a tad, but not overpowering at all. do you think the tea mixture has something to do with it?? and i might just put it in the fridge right away instead of letting it sit for 2 more days to fizz-up. mine didn't fizz too much, but it did taste fizzy. thanks

Lynn's picture

Bottle it on the sweet side. The tea mix will have something to do with it. Perhaps the oolong didn't have enough tannin? Just guessing. I always make mine with black.

_Kate's picture

Can you explain your "Gonzales--Alien Gonzales" comment? Are you suggesting that someone whose name is Gonzales is an alien/foreigner?

Lynn's picture

I imagine enough time has passed that people have forgotten about Elian Gonzalez. I meant nothing--and I mean nothing--other than a pun on his name.

Joan's picture

I got out of the habit and started brewing again and forgot about it. It brewed for over a month. Should I still drink it?

Lynn's picture

If it has no mold or other nasties on it, it should be fine--if very, very sour.

Janey's picture

Can you please explain what the deal is with mold? On my second batch, there appeared a very suspicious spot about the size of a dime, which I took to be mold. But since I had waited two weeks for that brew to be done, I wasn't about to throw it away, so I bottled it planning to drink it anyway. What is the possible hazard of that?

And I wasn't going throw my scoby away either. So I just cut off the moldy-looking spot and started over. I mean, isn't what what we do with cheese and such? If a spot of mold develops, you cut it off and carry on, right? Or no?

Lynn's picture

...is that you might kill yourself. I wouldn't keep either that scoby or the kombucha if you're sure you have a mold spot.

Ruca's picture

The spot you see could just be spent yeast cells, if it is mold it will be black or green and fuzzy or powdery, if this descibes what you were seeing THROW EVERYTHING OUT and start over!!!

meganvs's picture

I have to mature fungii that are about 1 1/2" thick each. Should I be separating the older portions and making tea with the newer ones? It seems like when I brew a new batch of tea, it becomes vinegary within a few days. Is it because they are so big?

Lynn's picture

You should separate the scoby each time.

Eirlys's picture

This is the piece of the puzzle I'm missing. Please give instruction as to this last bit, after bottling, how does one separate the scoby? And I only had green tea, so I'd better get me some Oooooooolong. So long!

1isa's picture

I want to re-use the store brand kombucha tea bottles for storing my new batch of home brewed tea. Is this ok? Why would I need EZ caps?

Tuckerlove's picture

Hello! First I want to thank you for this page! It was a huge help in brewing my own kombucha! I was going broke buying them all the time!

I have a question, though: I grew my SCOBY over a period of a month or more, and now it is big and healthy (and the tea is delicious!) I'm just now sure how normal it is that after less than a week of being stored in the fridge, a new scoby has grown at the bottom - not the "jellyfish" you see floating in the commercial stuff that breaks apart when you mix it, but a gelatinous, clearish, slimy little scoby...I haven't seen that before!! Is it common?

Thank you again!

Guest's picture

I started brewing kombucha again recently, i used to help an ex girlfriend brew large batches. I got a scoby now a few years later to start from and have made a few large batches, the first couple were very tasty! fizzy, sweet...very nice, every batch since then has been getting less and less vinegry, and flat...this last batch has the whitish foam or whatever on top when i bottle it, but there is no fizz at all, just completely flat and really doesnt taste at all, and also has no vinegry scent or sweetness there are thin scoby's forming on top of the tea, as if its reproducing or whatever....any ideas of what may be wrong????

Guest's picture

they are growing too fast to give them away! I am scared to store them in the fridge. what should I do to store my scobies?

Lynn's picture

Store them in the fridge! That's where they belong. You should always store an extra in case your main one expires. Just swap out the stored one now and again for a fresh one from your main scoby. If you have too many to give away, just compost them. They are perfectly safe and won't harm anything.

Emily's picture

I just started my first batch, and it is meant to be a gift for my husband when it is done. However, I realized afterwards that the lid I used on the bowl to cool the tea I had not washed first and it had been used earlier in the day. Nothing grungy on there, but definitely used before, not washed. I am sure condensation dripped off of the lid into the bowl. I just spaced it and did not think of washing the lid. Dumb I know. SO, should I throw out the batch? That was my only culture, but I suppose I could go buy a bottle at the store, it just would take a while longer and I wanted this to be ready for Christmas. If I wait 4-5 days and everything looks fine, then is it okay? What is the contamination concern exactly? If it looks fine in the end, is it fine?

Lynn's picture

...is that you'll kill your scoby. I would go ahead with it. If it's contaminated, you'll know pretty quickly.

Susan G's picture

I found the 1-gallon "cracker jars" at Walmart to be a good size with a sufficiently wide opening. A mixing bowl would probably be better, but $5 for a sqaure jar that holds the kombucha works for me.

Susan G's picture

If you're using city water (that has tiny amounts of chlorine bleach) it will, over several batches, be killing out the bacteria in your scoby so that your scoby becomes mostly just yeast.

Guest's picture

I am new to brewing Kombucha and I think I am already in trouble. I started the process Tuesday night, it is now Saturday morning. The first night when I put in my scoby it sunk to the bottom. It has since migrated upwards but is now floating vertically in the middle of the jar. I took the paper towel off the top and looked in. There is a very think white film forming on the top of the brew. Is this a new scoby or is it mold? I thought the new scoby forms on top of the old one, but as I said mine is still floating vertically in the jar. This is supposed to be a Christmas present for my boyfriend so please help with any advice as I only have a week to fix it!! Thanks!

Bing Fat's picture

Does anybody know if The New Homemaker is owned/sponsored by Walmart? Do the Scobys come from China? Please advise.

Lynn's picture

I don't sell kombucha scobys. Mine was from NE Portland.

As for Walmart, they occasionally buy ads here, but I wouldn't consider them sponsors. I don't shop there myself.

Guest's picture

That is fine. Mine floats in the middle of the jar too sometimes. The white layer on top is the new scoby!

Guest's picture

:(
I made kombucha from scratch about a month ago. I grew my first scoby and then on my second batch another grew on the top. It was funny my previous scoby stayed at the bottom the whole time while a new scoby grew on the top. I left the growth for 3 weeks bc I neded to get a 4L glass jar to move on...
NOW, I saw a small (half a dime size) bit of black mold on the top scoby. I have thrown it out and the culture but saved the scoby which was at the bottom (my initial one)
Can I still use it or do I have to throw it out too? It took me one month to create!
Thank you for your help!!!

Guest's picture

Lovely site!

I understand one can add an extra teabag for funky flavors during the normal steeping period,along with the regular teabags.

But when does one add things like ginger, fruit, or juice? During the bottling process? I usually refrigerate the bottles right away. Is that okay if you add ginger, etc.? Or are you supposed to let them sit out a couple days before refrigerating?

I always make the same green tea kombucha and would like to experiment with flavors but everyone seems vague about the TIMING. WHEN do I add stuff?

Thanks so much :)
Nan

Lynn's picture

Most kombucha experts say not to add any flavoring at all. In my own experience, I find adding spices like ginger or yogi tea in the brewing don't affect the end product. I can't really speak to fruit or juice definitively, but I would bet just cutting the kombucha with juice when you serve it would do the trick, especially if your kombucha is sour to begin with (good way to salvage a batch that sat too long). You could experiment with some fruit or juice in bottling, too. That way you wouldn't contaminate your scoby. If you have a spare scoby, you could try brewing it with juice just to see what happens.

Guest's picture

:?

Upon reading a previous comment, I see that using city water without the proper precautions taken can kill the bacteria in the scoby and then the scoby "becomes mostly just yeast". I have used city water and our kombucha is usually on the flat side. I was going to try alternative storage methods such as leaving the bottled kombucha out of the refrigerator for a couple of weeks in an effort to increase carbonation. But is it possible that I have killed the bacteria in our scoby? It continues to constantly grow in size, would that happen if the bacteria were dead?

Lynn's picture

Well, I couldn't say. If you're not getting carbonation, you're probably not letting it sit long enough. If it's still growing, you probably haven't killed your scoby, but if you have an older backup, you might try your next batch with it.

magicktrick's picture

:jawdrop: Wow these scoby things really love to sprout spontaneously from the kombucha i store for longer fermenting! I keep about 6 2.5 gallon candy jars going on a rotating schedule, so i tend to supply all my friends and still have to stash more kombucha away than i can fit in the fridge.

Tell me, how long should i leave a container of "starter fluid" undisturbed if i want it to generate a healthy, viable scoby to give to someone else for their own brewing? Just till it's 1/8th-1/4 of an inch?! At what point does this new baby need the fresh tea feed?

thanks!

Lynn's picture

I'm not sure! I'd give it some new k-tea regularly, perhaps just a little every time you brew? A thick-enough scoby is probably right in the 1/8-1/4" range. As long as it doesn't feel flimsy, it's good to go.

magicktrick's picture

:jawdrop:
i'm amazed at how quickly new scobys form at the top of the finished kombucha i store outside the fridge. how long would i need to let one of these go in order to brew with it? At what point does it need a fresh tea feed and will it actually brew good kombucha even though it was never attached to a mature mother?

thanks Lynn,
mt

Lynn's picture

Basically, you'd just want to feed the little guy until it got big enough to put in a jar. Just keep giving it progressively larger batches to brew until you get him up to one-gallon size. Or, if you prefer making small batches, keep him at quart-sized. Up to you. But yes, you can brew with one of these.

Monicajoi's picture

I brewed a 2 gal batch from store bought KT. I accidentally did it sealed ( in a sun tea jar w/ a spigot). There is no large floating mother, rather many small stringy babies. The resulting KT is great, sparkling with great flavor. 1) Is the fact that there is no one mother a problem? 2) Can I just continuously brew from my many stringy babies?

Lynn's picture

it works! Keep going, I say.

Openeyehealth's picture

This is a wonderful post and I feel so much more confident in trying to make my own batch of kombucha now! Thanks so much!

valerie barratt's picture

Hi all Ive been the proud keeper of kombucha for 6 years it helped me live through a bad state of illness. I put the old ones in the compost and have given loads away. I am a kinesiologist and have done many tests on our friend, it helps people and animals tolerate modern foods. i tok on a friends horse who was intollerate to rye grass due to the sugars in it, ii tested her for kombucha and she needed 50ml per day and some other herbs. She can now graze with the others in the field as long as she gets her kombucha. im not saying its good for all as my thorobred can not have it but for diabetic type tendances its greatly recomended. I am also a great fan of nourishing traditions and eat right for your type.. isnt it great to have so many tools to help us through life
loads of love to you all
Valerie :)

joyred's picture

Valerie: I am just brewing my first batch and read your comment about your friends horse. Well I have a horse that seems to have a grass sensitivity. Please tell me any specifics about feeding it to the horses. Love this!

Rose's picture

Valerie, do you know anything about giving kombucha to reptiles? I have a bearded dragon who has just never really thrived as he should, and I am having trouble finding information about whether or not it would be safe to give Kombucha.

valerie barratt's picture

Hi me again forgot to say i made the last batch with pukka organic black tea with chai out of this world even my friends who never touch my brew and call me some sceptic names loved it got them !!!!!! }:)

Doug's picture

I just made my first batch from a tiny piece of a culture I purchased online. After nine days a new mother grew on the surface of my wide mouth gallon jar. I understand that this will progressively get thicker each new batch I make. In one online tutorial it looked like they peeled a layer (like a skin) off of the mother. Is that necessary or can you just keep using the same mother on each new batch of tea without altering it?
Thankyou for any suggestions.

Lynn's picture

Otherwise it becomes too thick to do its job well, and it'll also eat all the tea. :) It's usually wise to split off a "baby" at least every couple of brew cycles, if only to give yourself a spare.

Guest's picture

I accidently left a full unopend bottle of my brew in my car on a hot day. The temp had to have gotten well over a hundred. My question is do you think its still ok to drink? Would the hot temp just cuase it to continue fermenting? Or would it spoil somehow? Its my first batch and I spent so much time and effort on it I just cant bring myself to throw it out if it can be avoided. Please shed some light on this if at all possible.

-Thanks!

Guest's picture

:? I'm currently growing two batches, one in a jar and one in a large mixing bowl. The one in the mixing bowl is going to end up with a very big SCOBY. When it is thick enough, can I cut it into smaller pieces to use as mothers, or is there a reason why it needs to stay in one piece? I had to drive 60 miles (one way) to get my first SCOBY, and I would love to pass along many many babies to other people in my town.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge!

Carolyn

Doug's picture

When I purchased my culture on the internet it came in a test tube like vile with a small perfectly circular SCOBY (1/4 inch). It looked like it was cookie cut from a larger one. It also contained some of the liquid culture in the vile. It has worked very well. So it looks to me that cutting a piece off would be alright as long as you do it under clean conditions.
Hope that helps, Doug

Guest's picture

For those who asked what to brew it in, I highly recommend a 1 gallon fish bowl. I bought mine new at a pet shop for about $7. The top is wide enough to work with, it's glass and it holds a perfect 1 gallon batch. ;)

Bernice's picture

:) Hi, I am a first - time brewer, never tried a batch yet, but I want to make kombucha the old fashioned way, that is, without refrigeration (the way it's been done for thousands of years), because of the simple reason that I don't have a fridge. So... what do you think? Can I brew a gallon, drink it a cup at a time, leave a bit left in the bottom to make a new batch, and just add another gallon of tea when it's almost done? There would be a space of 10 days sans kombucha, though. or could I just add new tea daily, cup by cup? Does it really need refrigeration at some point in the process? And also, what do I do with all those old scobies?

Thank-you. Very informative page

Lynn's picture

It will just keep brewing if you don't refrigerate it. Keep in mind that I Am Not a Doctor nor anyone who can speak definitively about food contamination, so use common sense.

realvaguy's picture

Kombucha does not need to be refrigerated. When you are using a brewing container with a spigot, it is real easy to keep the brew going while you enjoy the benefits of your Kombucha. All you need to do is replace the amount of Kumbucha that you remove with an equal amount of room temp sweetened tea. I remove about 32 ounces every 3 days. Remember that refrigeration only slows the fermentation process. The natural acid of the brew keeps bad contaminates like mold away.

be well,
john

Heather Carney's picture

How do I know if I have mold on my kombucha batch??
I have a nice big round new "baby" on the top of my batch now on day 9 and in the middle of it is a dark spot ... not fuzzy stuff but dark with a few dark spot within it .. and the spot is about the size of a half dollar. So not quite sure if it is mold or not and if I should drink it or not. Everything else looks normal (only my third batch) .... so just not sure what do do or if I can drink the kombucha.
Any ideas??

Guest's picture

I just recently brewed my first batch, and it seems a little on the vinegar side. I realize that I, more than likely, let it brew for too long. I used the scobie from my last batch and tore it in half to start 2 more 2-gallon containers. By tearing them in half does this affect the way that it ferments. Also, next time around I plan on introducing another 2-gallon container so that I have 3 containers total going (my boyfriend and I LOVE Kombucha!!). Is it better to separate the scobie like a pancake or tear it in half… and what do I do when I have all 3 going at the same time… do I just continue to separate the scobie like a pancake… what is considered the baby; the formation on top or bottom (my mother is floating and the baby seems to be forming on top)??? What should I be saving in the fridge??

Lynn's picture

First, take a deep breath! :D

Vinegar: Yes, you left it to brew too long.

Separating the scoby: Better to separate it in layers, like a pancake. The baby is the new growth, in your case, the one forming on the top. Save either one to the fridge; it doesn't matter.

Best way to make sure you're getting the flavor you want is to carefully and cleanly sample. I use a sun tea jar and just take some out of the tap.

randalle love's picture

My dad put his scoby in fruit juice sweetened with cane sugar. He has been doing this for a while and recently gave me a baby to start myself. I also put mine in juice and have been adding more juice as it gets drank. I cant seem to find any info on whether you can do this in juice other than a book called "Wild Fermentation" which says you can grow kombucha in juice as well as tea. I would like to hear what others have to say about this. Thanks!

Lynn's picture

My copy of WF has gone walkabout. I'd like to try that with a spare scoby. Thanks!

randalle love's picture

Let me know how it goes!

Guest's picture

I just finished brewing my second batch of kombucha and I still have yet to get any carbonation. I'm using recycled kombucha glass bottles (with plastic caps) and e-z flip tops. After bottling, I allow the bottles to sit for a few days before refrigerating, but still no fizz! Any ideas what could be the problem? Could it be a temperature problem? Its been a cool summer here in Oregon with a few intense heat waves.

Lynn's picture

I live here too.

Sometimes I don't get carbonation, either. Frankly, I have no idea why. :( I find that if I bottle it a little on the sweet side it seems fizzier, but it may be my imagination. All I can say is, just keep trying; change variables, and take notes.

Peter's picture

I struggled with fizz for a while myself. A few tricks I've found are to increase the sugar amount you're using during the fermentation. You'll know it's enough when you're getting bubbling coming up around the scoby. Also, you have to bottle it with the slightest sweetness, or add a small amount of sugar to the brew at bottling(a pinch) if you like a more sour brew. Finally, you must let the bottled kumbucha cure for a week minimum. I try to stay ahead of batches so I've got about two or more, and of course use EZ cap resealable bottles to hold the pressure in.

Mine's like champaign now–everytime. If I don't refrigerate after opening it stays until the end (1 liter bottles). If I keep it cold I'll lose the fizz after about half way, but cracking a bottle over ice on a hot day is heaven.

P

ps one more note, you may not be brewing enough at a time to get it carbonated. I'm brewing about 6 liters at a time and bottling 5 per batch. I'm sure this helps. Good luck!

Mark's picture

I have been brewing Kombucha for a little while now, and Find that it really works better is a warm place. It takes about 6 days to get a good batch in my garage (in Florida) and about 15 days in my house.

However, carbonation is hard to get right. I tried to add sugar (1/2 tsp) when I put it in bottles, but it doesn;t work all the time. Then, I added some fruit juice (about 10% of the bottle) and it worked better. Obviously it has to continue to ferment while in the bottle to get any carbonation, but what is the best way to ensure this... and how much air to leave in?

Thanks

CATforscoby's picture

I got too many scobies. I know I am supposed to make a scoby hotel or something but not sure how. Do I just put them all in a clean jar with some of the fluid and stick them in the frig? Do I put a lid on it or a cloth? Or does each individual scoby need its own jar?
Thanks for your help got too much of a good thing! Also, mine aren't these smooth clean slippery things, they are lumpy with brown strands that dangle from the undersides. Is that okay?

Thanks again for help, CAT

bdeysss's picture

:sick:
I've been doing this for about 6 months. I am wanting ideas for flavors once you bottle it. I am using the EZ caps on dark beer bottles. I have found that natural dried fruits seem to create a sweeter brew than fresh. I have been adding the dried fruit or ginger to the bottom before I fill it and filling it all the way to the top with little to no air space. I always filter if it goes in the bottle for another week but not if I am going to put it in a mason jar in the fridge to drink right away.

After letting it sit 5-7 days, I start drinking it. What I am not going to get to right away, I refrigerate. Sometimes it is like champagne. I'm looking for flavor variations. Would you add dried fruit or ginger AND some fruit juice for more sugar? Has anyone tried raspberries? What about lemon or orange peel?

I am using a large wide mouth jar with a spigot from Target. The wide top is great but if I wanted to brew continuously, I find that the spigot gets clogged with the brown stringy dead yeast nasties. So I don't take it out of the tap, I ladle it out.

Recipe ideas for 2nd fermentation?

CATforscoby's picture

Hi, is anybody out there? I still don't know what to do with all the scobies that keep growing and am now bottling 50 bottles at a time. How do I put these things into hybernation? Refrigerate them in one big jar or stick in a cupboard or what? I think I really need to stop brewing until we drink up what we have. Even with giving it away I am still drinking like 4-5 16 oz bottles a day and Im not sure its good for you to drink so much...
Please advise?

CATforscoby

Lynn's picture

Keep a spare or two in a jar full of kombucha in the fridge. The rest, throw away, compost, or give away. Brew out your spare scobies every couple of months to keep them happy. Five bottles of kombucha is a lot; if you feel okay, I'd assume that's fine, but I Am Not a Doctor.

Dylan Goldsmith's picture

If I purge the bottles with CO2 and bottom fill them, will that make it less likely to get a scoby in the bottle neck? Or is its formation not oxygen based? I would like to let the bottles develop considerable fizz, but don't want to swallow a chunky. I know it is not bad for me, it is just kind of gross and distracting. Thank you!

Lynn's picture

I have no idea. :) I have filtered my kombucha if it's super chunky by just pouring it through my fingers.

Peter's picture

I've been filtering when through cheese cloth when I bottle, fill to leave no air, store at room temp for two weeks, then refrigerate after that. I've found this prevents most scoby build up in the bottles. Try that.

Guest's picture

On the topic of secondary fermentation, in order to get the fizz, doesn't here have to be air in the bottle? I don't mind filtering the scoby out when I pour them, but I thought that there would also be a scoby if you want the secondary fermentation.

Can you or others talk about he amount of air to leave in?

Guest's picture

Hi Lynn ... totally new to this, but really excited. Thanks for the step-by-step. The only question I have is this ... you write "Add at least a half-cup of already-brewed kombucha." If I'm starting from scratch, how do I do this?!?!
Thanks.

Lynn's picture

...will do, as will commercially-brewed kombucha.

kt's picture

I just received my first Scoby yesterday. It was the size of a dinner plate and even my 1 gal. jar was not big enough for it. I went looking for another jar, but to no avail. Will it kill it if I cut it to fit into 4 different jars? I did the recipe for a gallon, then divided it evenly into four different jars and cut the scoby into four pieces. I did so after reading that it shouldn't affect it...but I'm unsure...any help?

Thanks!

Lynn's picture

It won't hurt the scoby.

Krollins33's picture

AAAAGH!!! On my second batc and my big beautiful mother ssat in her jar a little too long... there was mold on top of tea but the SCOBY is entirely clear of spots. Can I please spare her? Help...
So grateful for your site!! All the best
NT Momma to Malcolm :)

Lynn's picture

I'd hesitate to use the mother, myself, but I keep a backup.

Carol Gleason's picture

Hi! Great site ;-) I make my own as well but can not get it nearly as fizzy as Synergy or one of my new local favorites. Come to find out they put CO2 into it at the end of bottling. How can I do this at home and is it healthy and safe?

Thanks!

Carol

Guest's picture

I plan to start a batch with store bought kombucha. Does it have to be plain or can I use one thst is flavored?

Susie-Q's picture

I keep my house cold up here in WI, so I simply use a clamp light, clamped on to a full bottle that has a thin neck,like wine or vinegar. I don't recall the wattage of the bulb. I do this for all of my fermentation experiments (kefir, cortido, kimchi, kombucha)in the winter. I place my jars on a large cookie sheet that has sides to catch any bubble-overs, I cover the jars with a tea towel and fasten them with a wide rubber band. Depending on the season, kombucha first-fermentation completes in about 7 - 10 days.

Emily's picture

So, I am brewing my own Scoby from a jar of store-bought Kombucha. I have to say, the Scoby looks beautiful so far. Once I am ready to brew my first batch, can I use the liquid I used to make my Scoby as the "leftover" Kombucha batch in my first batch? If not, what do I use as the Kombucha in my first batch?

Lynn's picture

Just dump the whole thing in, and when you go to save the next scoby save some of the new batch to store it in.

Emily's picture

hi, we just made our first batch of kombucha- we are living in england and it isn't very warm in our flat. We kept in a laundry closet that we keep shut mostly. we let it ferment for a good 9-10 days. We decided to go ahead and strain and bottle it up and already started the next batch--
question: it doesn't appear that the scoby produced a new baby? the scoby was a bit small to begin with, so maybe it just got a bit larger itself? but not sure. does this mean it's not working? and if possible, how can you tell if your scoby is dead? Our first batch definitely tastes kombucha-ish, but still a bit sweet.
Thanks in advance,
em

Sandra's picture

My 78 year old mother got myself and my husband started on brewing KT. I NEVER even heard of it before. We have been brewing for a couple of months now. Since I am married to a very meticulous man we have a fairly controled environment. We have a retile heater set in a box then he placed an aluminum plate (salvaged from work)then a towel then the jars. Each jar has a strip thermometer (for aquarium) and one has a digital aquarium thermometer with a remote readout. A bit of overkill but he is concerned if I leave a jar out on the counter.
The jars we have, I bought from the local grocery store for about $5 each. You can too. The only thing is they come full of pickles! Since my son and grands like big dill pickles, I got a plastic pickle bucket (5 gal) from a local fast food restaurant and emptied the jars into that.
Since we don't like KT fizzy, (we are apparently the exception)as soon as it is ready according to taste and ph we place it in the fridge. Each batch varies slightly in taste and the taste changes slighly after refrigeration. I also started a jar using a bottle of purchased raw KT. It took about 2 weeks to brew instead of the usual 5 - 6 days (he has us on a fast track). But it still made a nice thick scoby and I am now working on a second jar with the new culture.
I would like to know if the week of so of unrefrigerated storage makes a difference in the health benifits or taste. I am currently experimenting using the 2 bottles I got when I bought KT. I am not supposed to drink anything carbonated and hubby doesn't care for it but I don't want to miss any probiotic benifits. The carbonation can be dissipated later.
I have had one bad jar. I tried to brew a jar using apple cider instead of water. I used the cider to brew the tea (black)but did not add any extra sugar after calculationg that the cider contained about the smae sugars as I usually add. The weast did a great job turning the sugar into alcohol but the bacteria apparetly died. I tried adding more sugar and changing the scoby but I got the same results. 2 apparently dead scobies and a gallon of apple wine (or something similar). Any ideas as to what went wrong. Also if you live in north east Texas, I have scobies I will gladly give away.

Guest's picture

I live in Denton and go to UNT. Can I get a SCOBY and maybe some advice. Where do you get your bottles?

Kay Lee's picture

Hi Lynn, I ran across your site a while ago when I first was looking into brewing Kombucha and I'm so glad to see you're still around and answering questions!

I have been wanting to brew Kombucha for a while- but it gets very cold in here (sometimes 50-60* now) in winter, despite my best efforts. Will that kill my cultures, or will they be OK? (it's fine with me if it takes longer, I expect I'll soon be overrun with kombucha anyway!) I just don't want to go through the time and expense and be disappointed when my cultures die. :(

Lynn's picture

They'll just take longer to brew out. You can put one of those plant starter mats under the jar to raise the temperature if you'd like. Good luck!

Matt's picture

Have you heard anything about how much sugar is left in the finished kombucha? Obviously this would have to do with how long it brews and at what temperature, etc., but I wonder if there is any off hand reference? I use 1 cup of sugar per gallon, and let it ferment for 2 weeks at an average temperature of 70-72F. I will purchase a hydrometer and measure before and after and let you know what I come up with, but in the meantime... any ideas?

Kay Lee's picture

Thanks Lynn! :grin:

It's me's picture

Hi, I had a batch of kombucha that had only brewed for 5 days and I had to bottle early it because I am going out of town and it would be way too sour when I get back, so my questions is... it's too sweet now, but will it sour up in the bottles? I thought maybe I could open it up when I get back and put it in with a scoby again, but I added ginger and lemon to the bottles. Do you have any advice?

Lynn's picture

...it may be more sour. Give it a shot!

Aaron's picture

Just wondering if the initial fermentation can be done under air lock?

Lynn's picture

The kombucha *needs* air. That's why you don't put the lid on; you need to put something permeable over it, like cheesecloth of a loosely woven tea towel.

firsttimebuchiaddict's picture

:) Hi, I am brewing my first kombucha. I didnt put mine in the fridge is this bad? it was given to me from a friend in some of the acidic liquid to start my own and i probably waited 2 weeks before starting

Lynn's picture

You *should* be okay. Does it still look happy? The fridge is recommended to retard its growth mostly. If it was in a good-sized batch of already-brewed kombucha it should be okay. If you are in any doubt--the scoby looks weird or it smells "off"--you'll need to start over.

jeff looney's picture

:O i have what looks like green webbing growing off the side of my kombucha. this is my first time brewing and i'm unsure what it is. igot my two scobys off someone's porch in portland from craigslist and they seem healthy. i've seen the same webbing like formation growing in other pictures of it and i believe its the yeast but i havnt seen it green. it almost looks like phlegm and its growing off the sides of the kombucha. i've been really excited to start brewing the kombucha but dont know if i've messed it up. can you help me?

Lynn's picture

I dunno from green. There are kinda gooey phlegmy bits that often form; in mine they hang down like jellyfish tentacles sometimes. But green? Hm. Do you have a backup? Because this one sounds like you didn't put enough kombucha starter in with your scoby. You need to put at least a half cup of already-brewed kombucha in with your scoby, otherwise it's not acidic enough. The rule for any food is, when in doubt throw it out.

I'm in PDX, too. :)

RMW's picture

Hi,
I'm wondering what the best way to store the extra scoby's is until you need them again? I went away for a month and put mine in an airtight jar and they died. I must have done something wrong. Can you please help me?
Thanks!

Emmanuel's picture

only a very sick mind calls their "alien" looking scoby alien gonzales. why don't you call it "my ass under my clothes".

Lynn's picture

...who was relatively current in the news at the time this was written--certainly still within memory. I honestly never thought of how it might be misconstrued, I guess because I don't think of Hispanic people in those terms. I'm originally from California; Gonzales is akin to Smith in my mind. If I have hurt anyone, I apologize; it was not my intent in the least.

Editing the piece all these years later smacks of retconning; it's probably better to let it stand and face my own words.

Kate Webb's picture

Got a SCOBY from a friend, without a recipe. Went looking for a recipe, and the first one I find, is from my friend Lynn!! SO nice to see you!!! Thanks for still being awesome after all these years....

Guest's picture

White sugar is not too healthy....why is it being recommended?

Guest's picture

The scoby is going to break down white sugar just like any other type of sugar, and you are not going to be consuming much (if any). That being said, I use organic cane sugar because that's what I buy in bulk and have on hand. I also like to add a little honey for flavor and anti-allergy effects.

Freda Binnebose's picture

I use to make kombucha years ago and gave it up. I liked the tea quite well. Would like to start making it again, but I do not know anyone in my area that still makes it. When I first started mine it was a gift from a friend and was something to be passed on to others freely out of love. :)

Guest's picture

Is there any way to ressurect a batch that has gone too long? I hate dumping 6 gallons of vinegar that was supposed to be kombucha.

Have you ever been succesful saving a batch that is about 1 week too old?

Thanks!!

Joe d's picture

If you want to save your sour batch add some juice to each bottle when you fill them. You can use anything you like.

It's been said many times people want to start brewing again but don't know anyone with a scoby. All you have to do is buy a bottle of commercial such as Dave GT, anything that isn't pasteurized and is raw kombucha. Dump half the bottle or so into a glass jar, add a cup of fresh brewed tea and a couple tablespoons of sugar and you will grow a nice thick scoby in a matter of weeks. I've done this many times and have been brewing for quite a while and have never been given or bought a scoby, just make your own.

Guest's picture

This is my first kombucha experience and so far it going well, however, I did not had enough plastic lids and am wondering if I can use a metal ones, I have plenty. I know it is not recommended, but I wonder if anyone tried and succeed it.

Farmer Jerry's picture

In another posting I saw you should not use metal that can come in contact with KT. However, if you lay some Saran wrap on top of the jar, you CAN use the metal lid since it will not come in contact with the ST. (Personally, I would probably use two layers of Saran wrap since it is so thin.)

Real Fermenting's picture

Just wanted to let you guys know that it is really easy to culture your own SCOBY from a store-bought bottle of kombucha. That way you get a professional-quality culture, rather than one from a friend of a friend that was in the mail for 5 days. Check out my guide here: http://www.realfermenting.com/2012/06/kombucha.html

NicoleR's picture

I just made my first batch of kombucha and it was fine on Friday but I went away for the weekend and when I got back and went to bottle it, the baby scoby on the top had thicker spots all through it. It didn't look like mould but it looked like it was spotted and when I put the Kombucha in bottles it just felt like thicker parts of the scoby. Is this okay or is this acutally mould and should I be throwing it out and starting from square one? :? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Guest's picture

do i have to throw my scoby out if i touched it with a metal spoon? does it pose a long-term health threat?

mark's picture

Yes, kombucha will react with metal. However, you are not going to blow anything up by touching it. It will not ruin your kombucha if you touch it with a stainless steel spoon.

Guest's picture

Symbiotic *Culture* of Bacteria and Yeast ;)

mark's picture

I have been drinking kombucha for over 5 years and never tire of it. My wife even brews it on our summer camping trips. I can never get enough. We have had as much as 12 gallons brewing at one time.

My advice to anyone spending $3 or more per bottle is stop and start brewing your own KT today.

HollyHope's picture

:grin: I see it listed in the ingredient list, but I don't see where to use it...would love to get started!

Lynn's picture

You don't use vinegar in kombucha brewing. Not sure where you're seeing that... :)

hollyhope's picture

Yep, I noticed that, just after I hit submit. My eyes were skipping lines.

My kombucha was successful though, the SCOBY is very robust, always floats, produces a very refreshing, slightly carbonated drink with the first fermentation, and has survived a period of refrigeration for several weeks where it kept on fermenting.

My only complaint is that if I bottle it, a gelatinous mini-scoby grows in the bottle. As I said, it's very robust. So I strain it before drinking.

I've also passed it on to four people in my town. The brewer's store staff said kombucha was getting popular...and then we compared notes on all the folks who received my SCOBYs by way of freecycle.org that then became his customers.

Thomas Hupp's picture

Greetings,
We have just published a great kombucha book "Kombucha Rediscovered" by Klaus Kaufmann.

It is filled with history benefits and how-tos of Kombucha.
If I can get an email address, I'll send you a digital kit on the book.

Best Regards,
Thomas Hupp
www.bookpubco.com

Jason's picture

I am new but excited to make home brew Kombucha, I like it strong when I buy it so I let it sit a very long time. Probably too long like 3 months (I was experimenting) when I looked recently I saw a tun of mold floating on top of the jar which was a new culture that had formed. I pulled it out and wiped the mold from the top of the jar but my original mother that I started the tea with was on the bottom and seams to be mold free. I know not to drink the tea ( I assume ) but right now my mother culture is in that same tea and jar. Do I Toss everything including my original culture? or can I save it and start a new tea or make a hotel for it? Please Help, Thank You- Jason

Lynn's picture

I'd toss it to be on the safe side. This is why you should always keep a backup. :)

Guest's picture

Just brought my first shared scoby home to portland from a friend in seattle... excited to get started, and so glad to find this ongoing support system here!
-e-

hollyhope's picture

Wow, I really liked this stuff.
But it got a little vinegary, and when I drank it, it felt like it was shooting little things through my arms and legs. Not entirely unpleasant, sort of a drunken-like feeling. Then my nose stopped up completely.
Turns out I don't tolerate histamines. Tomatoes, spinach, peppers, aged or fermented products like yogurt, kefir, cheese, wine, beer.
So, I'm giving up the kombucha for now. I've given scobys away to several people who have had success. But it's time to turn my attention elsewhere. Too bad! Science experiments you can eat seem so cool, but they are all bad for me now.

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