Frequently Asked Questions About Kombucha
How long will my SCOBY last?
The SCOBY will last a long time, but not forever. If it turns black or starts to develop mold, or if it stops culturing your tea, it’s time to toss it. It's always best to use the newest scoby to make your next batch of tea, this scoby will be the strongest one to culture your tea.
Is it okay to test my kombucha while it’s fermenting?
Yes! Feel free to check on it every so often to see how it’s doing. To do this, just pour off a couple of ounces for a taste test. Another method is to slip a straw along the inside of your brewing jar. Then put your finger over the top of the straw. Such a test might go like this:
- 4 to 6 Days—Too sweet; not all sugar converted.
- 7 to 9 Days—Tastes like sparkling apple cider.
- 10+ Days—Vinegar taste becomes prominent.
Remember to cover it back up after checking it!
How do I store my scoby?
Store your scoby with enough kombucha tea to cover the scoby, in a glass jar with a lid, preferably plastic. Store on your counter at room temperature. This will last at least a month, or a little longer stored this way. You can add bunches of scobys to your jar and they stay preserved. Just make sure they're covered in kombucha tea and you're good! Check out the recipe!
My SCOBY sank to the bottom when I made my kombucha. Is it okay?
It is 100 percent okay if your SCOBY sinks. Sink or float—it makes no difference to your kombucha. It won’t affect the brew or the taste. Sometimes it will float for a few days then sink and then rise again. Scobys have a mind of their own and either way it's fine.
My kombucha is still sweet. What did I do wrong?
Your house is probably on the cooler end of the spectrum, and kombucha takes longer to ferment at lower temperatures. Just leave it to ferment longer. I use a brew belt for a dependable temperature. You can also use a heating pad, but brew belts provide a consistent temperature that is more easily controlled than that of a heating pad.
Day By Day Pictures of Kombucha Brewing.
Watching tea turn into kombucha is quite a thing to behold. You give it the ingredients and let it work its magic. Billions of microbes and yeasts transform the tea into a bubbly probiotic tea that you will love. When you first start making kombucha you might be concerned and not know what to expect, so I made something to help you. I took pictures day by day, step by step, as well as top and side views so you can see what is happening each day. I have a time-lapse video for you as well, and hopefully, this will help you feel confident and assured that your kombucha is fermenting properly.
There are some weird brown stringy things in my kombucha. Is that okay?
Absolutely. You may also see dark brown spots. Both of these are normal. They’re simply a by-product of the good yeasts eating the sugar out of your tea. They look scary but are actually a good sign that your brew is fermenting properly.
What about that clear film that’s forming at the top of my jar?
Don’t be alarmed! This is your new SCOBY forming! It will grow to the diameter of the jar or crock it is in. So if you have a wide jar, you will have a big SCOBY each time you make kombucha. Make Bubbly Fruit Favored Kombucha
There is mold on my SCOBY. Is it still safe to consume the tea?
No, it’s not safe! If there is mold then you should throw the tea and the SCOBY out. As for why this happened, there are a couple of possibilities. Sometimes people do not use the right ratio of sugar and tea to starter culture, and so the tea doesn’t ferment properly. Be exact in your measurements. The other cause can be airborne molds in the house. I have had a few people develop this problem because of a leaky roof or by placing their pot in a closet that had poor air circulation.
Having said that, many times people who are brewing their kombucha see what they think is mold, but it’s actually just normal discoloration that is part of the fermenting process. If it’s he hairy or fuzzy it’s probably mold. Unless you are absolutely sure that there is mold, send us a picture of your brew, and we’ll let you know.
My kombucha is not bubbly?
How do I increase the carbonation of my kombucha tea? One of the reasons your kombucha may not be bubbly is because it’s fermented for too long.The good yeasts in kombucha eat the sugar and then release carbon dioxide. This is what creates carbonation. If you let it ferment too long, the kombucha goes flat. If you don’t let it get vinegary, it will stay bubbly. When the yeasts eat the sugars out of the tea, they make carbonation. When they run out of sugar to eat, they start to die and so do the bubbles. Second-fermenting is another way to achieve carbonation. The process requires adding juices or extra sugars and then capping off bottles and letting them ferment so the yeast can transform the sugars into natural carbonation. Here's more info.
Can I cut up my SCOBY?
Yes, absolutely. You need only part of the SCOBY to ferment the tea. You can cut, tear, or rip, your scoby and it won't hurt it. It will still make great kombucha tea!
I Have a Sulfur Smell in My Kombucha ?
A sulfur smell in kombucha isn't harmful, but the taste can be very unpleasant. Here are a few reasons this can happen.
- The water source you're using has hydrogen sulfide in the water giving it a strong taste of sulfur.
- The tea you're using has nitrogen present in the tea leaves, which can cause a sulfur taste in your brew.
- Wild airborne yeasts have become a part of your brew and although this isn't bad it can become a taste you don't like.
What to do: Try changing to a new water source and tea source and see if it changes. You can also let it brew longer -allowing it to go to a more vinegar stage and see if it subsides. If the above don't help then the smell and taste has gotten into your scoby and you'll need to get a new one and dump your brew.
Why is My Scoby Thin?
This is usually caused by your brew not being warm enough. Kombucha likes to ferment at 75-80 degrees. Getting a heating strip will help keep your scoby at the perfect temperature, especially in the colder months. It can also be that your starter tea isn't strong enough. Let it keep fermenting at a warmer temperature and see if it gets a thicker scoby. You don't need one in the summertime if you home is 75 degrees or warmer it should do fine without a heating strip.
Kombucha is a must-have in the summertime! When the body is exposed to excessive heat, the liver can become stressed and kombucha can help! Drinking kombucha can keep you cool and hydrated in the summertime. Here are my best and most helpful tips for making kombucha in the summer when temperatures rise, not only outside but inside your home as well. If your house gets above 80 degrees, these tips can be a lifesaver!
What do I do with all these SCOBYs?
Ahhh, the eternal question. Since you grow a new SCOBY each time you make kombucha, you’ll have to get creative. The SCOBYs can stack on top of each other and form a SCOBY hotel. I’ve fed them to a friend’s chickens, used them as fertilizer in my garden, given them away—the list goes on and on. We have lots of creative and delicious ways to use and even consume your extra SCOBYs. Scobys are good for you too!
My Kombucha is too Sour!
In the early days of making kombucha, I would often let my kombucha go too long and it would lose its bubbliness. There were a few times it turned so sour that it made me squint and gasp and nobody wanted to drink it. One of the interesting things about fermenting kombucha is that it will eventually turn to vinegar if you leave it out long enough. Here are a few things you can do if your kombucha is too sour.