Kombucha Troubleshooting FAQ


If you are activating/rehydrating your kombucha scoby and have run into issues, click here for comprehensive troubleshooting advice for scoby activation.


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. Signs the kombucha fermentation process is proceeding normally include the formation of a new kombucha culture over the opening of the brewing container, the development or brown stringy yeast particles and the liquid becoming less sweet and more vinegar tasting. Click here for a comprehensive discussion of the signs that your kombucha is brewing normally.

While a wayward batch of kombucha is relatively rare, problems can creep up from time to time. Click here for a list of normal variations versus potential problems that may come up with brewing kombucha

Keep in mind that for the initial batch using a dehydrated culture, it can take up to 30 days at room temperature (70° to 80°F) for signs of a new forming kombucha culture. Additionally, a new culture may not form in the initial rehydration batch.

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?

A. Click here for troubleshooting information specific to activating a dehydrated kombucha scoby.

Q. Why would I need to strain the finished kombucha?

A. Most people will strain their kombucha tea prior to drinking it to filter out the yeast particles (brown and stringy) as well as any baby kombucha cultures that may be forming (often the consistency of a jelly blob). Click here to view our plastic mesh strainers which 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 a 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.   hey 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 (including humidity), the culture may sink, float, or sit sideways. Any of these is normal and will not effect the brewing process.

Q. The new baby kombucha culture seems to have detached from the container opening. Will this mess up the fermentation process?

A. Having the baby culture detach from the container opening is common if the jar is bumped or moved. It does not effect the fermentation process.  If you continue the culturing process, a new baby culture will begin to form on top of the liquid but again, does not affect the culturing process itself (i.e., a longer culturing process isn't necessary unless you are specifically trying to grow a new culture of a certain size).

Q. I've been storing a batch of finished kombucha for a few days and it seems to be developing a jelly-type mass on top. Is this normal? What is it?

A. The jelly-type 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.  These cultures start out as a jelly-type mass and eventually form a full-blown culture. If you leave a batch of finished kombucha long enough, it will eventually form a full scoby on the top just as it did during the initial fermentation process. You can remove and use this culture just like any other culture. If you accidentally consume the culture (easy to do when it's still in the jelly-type mass state) it is not harmful.

Q. One of my kombucha cultures has a hole in it or is only a piece because I had to separate it from the 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 that is at least 3 inches in diameter.

Q. My batch of kombucha has developed mold. What can I do?

A. The most common reason for mold development is improper ingredient ratios (the most common reasons we hear about are forgetting to add the sugar or starter tea) although contamination can also be a factor (could be as simple as a bit of food or soap residue the dishwasher missed). Once mold has developed, it is very important to toss the whole batch, including the kombucha scoby. Normally we are all for trying to save cultures but in this case, it would be potentially dangerous to do so.

Q. My kombucha culture has turned black. What should I do?

A. A black scoby is a sign of a kombucha culture that has been contaminated or is worn out (takes a long time and many batches to do this). If your kombucha culture turns black, it should be retired to the compost bin. 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.

Q. I've been brewing kombucha for awhile and am overrun with kombucha scobys. What can I do with them?

A. Because a new culture is created with each batch, you may quickly find that you have too many cultures! If at some point you find yourself with more kombucha scobys please give them away to friends and family who could benefit from brewing their own kombucha. (Please note: because maintaining proper ingredient ratios is critically important to successfully creating a kombucha that is safe to drink, please be sure to give them a copy of the instructions or refer them to this website to download the instructions so they have all the appropriate information). If at some point you run out of good homes to send extra scobys too, click here for some creative ideas for using the extra scobys. 

Click here to view more Kombucha FAQs


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