Since a kombucha SCOBY is a live culture consisting of active yeasts and bacteria, it does best if it is allowed to sit on the counter and culture one batch of sugared tea after another.

HOW-TO VIDEO: How to Make Kombucha Tea

However, we understand that 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)

Keep Culturing!

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:

Option 1: Store in a Holding Jar (Hotel) + 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.

Option 2: 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, follow our instructions on how to rehydrate the SCOBY.