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Kombucha Scoby Activation Troubleshooting


When activating a dehydrated kombucha culture or making the first few batches, it may be difficult to tell how things are progressing. There may be no visible signs of culturing at first, or you may notice one or more normal signs of fermentation.

Normal Signs of Fermentation in Home-Brewed Kombucha

  • The liquid has lightened in color
  • The liquid has turned cloudy
  • A haze has formed on top of the liquid, indicating the beginning of a baby scoby
  • There is sediment in the bottom of the jar
  • Brown yeast strings or blobs have formed in the liquid or on the original scoby


Mold is visible as circular deposits that often look fuzzy or furry. Mold can appear in various colors: white, green, black, etc. Once mold has developed, it is very important to discard the whole batch, including the kombucha scoby. Please contact Customer Support if mold develops.

If you do not see any mold on the surface of the liquid or on the scoby, continue with the troubleshooting questions below.

Test the Progress of Your Kombucha

The best way to tell how your kombucha is progressing is to test the aroma and flavor. Test every few days. You should notice that the liquid becomes less sweet and more rich and vinegary in flavor over time. As the scoby rehydrates, the aroma should clean but sour. The kombucha should not smell or taste unpleasant.

It is normal that kombucha not be fizzy or carbonated without Bottling the Kombucha in a second fermentation. 

If you are still unsure about the fermentation of your kombucha, check the following:


How was the dehydrated scoby stored prior to rehydration, and for how long?

A dehydrated scoby has a relatively short shelf life. If your scoby was stored longer than recommended, it may be expired. We recommend storing the dehydrated scoby, unopened:

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended

How long have you been rehydrating the scoby?

The scoby is expected to take thirty days to rehydrate. If it has been less than 30 days, allow the scoby to rehydrate for the full 30 days. 

What is the temperature in the culturing area?

Kombucha requires a warm area, 68-85ºF, to culture properly. If your home is cooler than 68ºF, try some tips in this article for Keeping Cultures Warm in Cool Weather.


What kind of water did you use? 

Water used for culturing should be as free as possible from contaminants. Please consult our article on Choosing Ingredients for Making Kombucha and make adjustments as necessary. 


What kind of tea did you use? 

Kombucha requires real tea (camellia sinensis). There are a number of teas made from this plant: black, green, white, pekoe, oolong, Darjeeling, and more. 

Consult our article on Choosing Ingredients for Making Kombucha, for further information.


What kind of sugar did you use?

We recommend white sugar as the most reliable results with kombucha. Unrefined sugar or brown sugar, which contains molasses, can also be used successfully, though the kombucha and scoby may become very yeasty. 

Consult our article on Choosing Ingredients for Making Kombucha, for further information.


What kind of vinegar did you use?

We recommend distilled white vinegar as the most reliable vinegar to use for making the first few batches of kombucha. Avoid apple cider vinegar or other types of vinegar, which may not be acidic enough to protect your scoby during rehydration.

Consult our article on Choosing Ingredients for Making Kombucha, for further information.


Were the correct proportions of ingredients used?

It’s important to get the correct balance of water, tea, sugar, and vinegar in the solution. The size of the scoby is not particularly important, as even a small scoby can produce a good kombucha.

Consult our Instructions for Making Kombucha for proper ingredient ratios for the activation and subsequent batches. 

Still unsure about your kombucha? Please contact Customer Support for further assistance. We are happy to help!

Jar of Fermenting Kombucha and Pitcher of Finished Kombucha

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