Click here for Kombucha Troubleshooting FAQ
Click here for Kombucha Scoby Activation Troubleshooting
Q. What is kombucha?
A. Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a kombucha starter culture (mushroom, mother, scoby, etc.), tea prepared with sugar, and some kombucha tea from a previous batch (starter tea). Kombucha contains a number of vitamins, particularly B vitamins. Learn more about the beneficial yeast and bacteria that comprise Kombucha.
Q. What does kombucha taste like?
A. Kombucha has a rich, earthy flavor, which can vary greatly depending on the length of time it ferments, 7-30 days. For a mild flavor, brew for a shorter time. For a bolder, more vinegary flavor, brew for a longer time.
Q. Can I make my homemade kombucha taste like that bought at the grocery store?
A. Yes, experimenting with the type of tea, fermentation time, and flavor additives (fruit, juice, ginger, etc.) you can invent your own kombucha flavors or try to replicate a commercial flavor. Learn more about Flavoring and Bottling Kombucha.
Q. What ingredients go into making kombucha cultures?
A. Our kombucha starter cultures are grown and packaged in a licensed commercial food processing facility using filtered water, organic sugar, and organic black tea.
Q. Do kombucha cultures contain gluten, dairy, or animal products?
A. No, our kombucha cultures only contain organic black tea, organic sugar, and filtered water.
Q. Are kombucha cultures reusable? How long will the culture last?
A. Yes, with proper care kombucha cultures can be reused many times. Since the cultures will multiply, as a practical matter you will likely recycle or compost older cultures after a few months or sooner.
Note: It may take several batches for a baby to form after initial rehydration. With care, you should be able to continue using the same culture until the time a baby scoby does form.
Q. Why are your kombucha cultures shipped in a dehydrated state?
A. We ship dehydrated cultures because they are shelf stable and therefore make the trip to you more safely. We take your safety seriously.
Q. What is the process to make kombucha?
A. Find instructions and video here for learning How to Make Kombucha.
Q. Will kombucha tea starters multiply?
A. Kombucha tea cultures do multiply. Each time you brew a batch of Kombucha tea a new starter culture will form. The original starter culture ("the mother") and the new starter culture ("the baby") can each be used to brew a new batch of kombucha tea.
Note: It may take several batches for a baby to form after initial rehydration.
Q. What supplies will I need for making kombucha tea?
A. Find advice on the best equipment in our article Choosing Equipment for Making Kombucha. Learn about the best ingredients in our article Choosing the Best Ingredients for Making Kombucha (including tea, sugar, water source, etc.).
Q. How long should I brew my kombucha?
A. Kombucha can be brewed from 7 to 30 days, depending on personal preference. While a longer brewing time results in a more cultured beverage, it also results in less sugar and a more vinegar-flavored beverage. Keep in mind that temperature will play a role in how quickly the kombucha cultures.
Q. How can I reduce the amount of sugar in the finished kombucha tea?
A. A longer fermentation process will reduce the amount of sugar in the finished product. At the end of a 30-day fermentation period, there is generally very little sugar remaining. Begin with the required amount of sugar, to ensure that the scoby gets enough food to culture properly.
Q. Can I use less sugar or alter any ingredients used to make kombucha?
A. We strongly recommend following the tea:sugar:water:starter tea ratios indicated in the instructions. These ratios encourage a proper balance, which discourages the growth of mold and the spoiling of the batch. It also helps ensure the scoby gets enough food to culture properly.
Q. Can I use a plastic container to brew kombucha and plastic bottles to store it?
A. We recommend glass containers when working with starter cultures, because of the potential of plastic to leach undesirable chemicals. Additionally, plastic is more easily damaged, often without your knowledge, which can result in hidden bacteria that may disrupt the culturing process.
Q. How can I flavor my kombucha tea?
A. Learn about Flavoring and Bottling Kombucha in our article.
Q. What ratio of juice to kombucha should I use for the second fermentation (to add flavor)?
A. Generally speaking, a ratio of 20% juice and 80% kombucha works well.
Q. How do I increase the carbonation of my kombucha tea?
A. Bottling kombucha in an airtight bottle helps to increase carbonation. Learn about Flavoring and Bottling Kombucha in our article.
Q. Is there any danger of the glass container exploding under the carbonation pressure when bottling kombucha?
A. It is possible for bottles to explode, although it is more common that lids occasionally fly off, particularly when being opened. We recommend keeping your whole hand over the lid of the container as you open it. Check bottles for cracks or imperfections before use.
Q. What type of sugar should I use to make kombucha? What type of tea? What type of water?
A. Learn about the best sugar, tea and water for brewing kombucha in our article, Choosing Ingredients for Making Kombucha.
Q. Can I make kombucha without starter tea?
A. Yes, you can use an equal portion of distilled white vinegar in place of starter tea. Alternatively you may use bottled raw, unflavored kombucha tea, which can be purchased at many health food and grocery stores. However, when activating a dehydrated scoby, use distilled white vinegar only.
Q. Can I culture my kombucha tea in a cupboard, on a window sill, etc.?
A. Brewing in a cupboard is perfectly fine. It is important to keep fermenting kombucha out of direct sunlight and away from excessive heat or cold.
Q. Does finished kombucha contain alcohol?
A. Yes, as with all cultured and fermented foods, a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol is typically present in the finished product. Although the amount will vary from batch to batch, the amount should be quite small.
Q. How do I take a break from making kombucha tea?
A. Click here for instructions about Taking a Break from Making Kombucha Tea.
Q. If I’m making other cultured foods (yogurt, sourdough, kombucha, etc.), how far apart do I need to keep the cultures?
A. We suggest keeping a distance of at least 4 feet between items. When your cultured items are being stored in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lids, there is no need to keep distance between them.
Q. Where can I view the instructions for making kombucha?
A. Click here to view the kombucha instructions.
Q. What signs should I look for to determine the kombucha is culturing properly?
A. A few good signs the kombucha fermentation process is proceeding normally include the formation of a new kombucha culture over the opening of the brewing container, development of brown stringy yeast particles, and the liquid becoming less sweet and more vinegar-like.
NOTE: For the initial batch when using a dehydrated culture, there may be no visible signs of culturing. The best way to check progress of the brew is to test aroma and flavor.
Q. I'm brewing my first batch of kombucha using the dehydrated culture. It doesn't seem to be doing anything. How can I know if it's working properly?
Q. Why would I need to strain the finished kombucha?
A. Straining isn't necessary. Some people prefer to strain their kombucha tea prior to drinking it to filter out the yeast particles as well as any baby kombucha cultures which may be forming. Our plastic mesh strainers are perfect for this task.
Q. My kombucha has been fermenting for a period of time and is developing a cloudy layer on top. Is this normal?
A. Yes. The cloudy white layer is the beginning of a new baby kombucha culture. The formation of a new culture is one sign that your batch of kombucha is fermenting properly.
Q. My kombucha has been fermenting for a period of time and is developing brown stringy particles. Is this normal?
A. The brown stringy particles are yeast particles and are harmless. They are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. You can strain them out of the finished kefir if desired.
Q. My kombucha culture sank to the bottom of my container, is floating sideways, rose to the top of the liquid, etc. Is this normal?
A. Depending on a number of factors, the culture may sink, float or sit sideways. Any of these is normal and will not affect the brewing process.
Q. The new baby kombucha culture seems to have detached from the container opening. Will this affect the fermentation process?
A. Having the baby culture detach from the container opening does not affect the fermentation process.
Q. I've been storing a batch of finished kombucha for a few days and it seems to be developing a jelly-like mass on top. Is this normal? What is it?
A. The jelly-like mass is the beginning of a new baby kombucha culture. Even after the main kombucha culture is removed, the kombucha remains full of living yeast and bacteria which continue to ferment slowly on their own. Consequently idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture.
Q. One of my kombucha cultures has a hole in it or is only a piece because I had to separate it from mother culture after they fused. Can I still use it?
A. Kombucha cultures will work just fine even with holes or if they have been torn in half.
Q. Does the size of the kombucha culture matter in relation to how much kombucha I will be brewing?
A. No, even a small kombucha culture will effectively ferment a full gallon of kombucha. We do recommend using a culture or piece of a culture which at least 3 inches in diameter.
Q. My batch of kombucha has developed mold. What can I do?
A. Once mold has developed, it is very important to toss the whole batch, including the kombucha scoby. Please contact Customer Support if your kombucha develops mold.
Q. My kombucha culture has turned black. What should I do?
A. A black scoby is a sign that the kombucha culture has been contaminated or is worn out. It takes a long time, however, and many batches to do this. Turning black is not to be confused with developing brown or slightly discolored patches. Yeast build-up will result in brown spots or stringy particles attaching to the scoby and is a normal byproduct of the fermentation process. If your kombucha culture turns black, it should be discarded.
Q. I've been brewing kombucha for awhile and am overrun with kombucha scobys. What can I do with them?
A. Click here for some creative ideas for using the extra scobys.