As a live culture consisting of active yeasts and bacteria, a kombucha scoby will do best if it is allowed to sit on the counter culturing one batch of sugared tea after another. However, life can interfere at times. If you need to take a break from making kombucha, here are some guidelines on how to do so without damaging the scoby.
Short-term Breaks (less than 6 weeks)
While the normal brewing time for a batch of kombucha is 7-30 days, it is possible to allow a batch of kombucha to brew for up to 6 weeks, as long as the culturing area is not too warm. So for breaks of up to 6 weeks, we recommend simply allowing the kombucha to brew in a batch of fresh sugar tea and starter tea for that length of time. The resulting brew will have a very strong vinegar taste and can be discarded or used in place of vinegar in such recipes as salad dressings or marinades.
Long-term Breaks (more than 6 weeks)
Longer term breaks tend to be a bit more difficult to manage safely but there are several options available:
Create a holding jar and feed the scoby every 4-6 weeks
- Follow the ingredient ratios for making a batch of kombucha.
- Every 4 to 6 weeks, discard some of the liquid and add either fresh sweet tea (up to 80% of the jar) or sugar (¼ cup per quart of liquid). Stir to combine.
- The fresh sugar tea is preferable as it provides all the nutrients the scoby needs to survive and thrive during the break.
- If adding sweet tea is not an option, adding only sugar should keep the scoby going for a few cycles before the scoby begins to suffer. Note that over time, liquid will evaporate from the jar and should be replaced.
Dehydrate the kombucha scoby
- Scobys can be dehydrated by placing them on a sheet of unbleached parchment paper and allowing them to dry in a warm spot (around 80° to 90°F) until they are the consistency of jerky.
- Beware of fruit flies and other pests when leaving scobys out to dry.
- Drying several scobys is a good idea, as the process isn’t normally very precise and there is a failure rate.
- Once the scobys are dehydrated, place them in a sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator (not the freezer).
- Dehydrated scobys will generally survive in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.
- Once you are ready to begin making kombucha again, consult our instructions on how to rehydrate the scoby.