* Please note that this blog remains up as a resource. However, this blog is currently on hiatus until further notice. For more information, please read this blog post. Thank you and happy kombucha brewing, drinking, and SCOBY trading! Lots of love. ~Annabelle *

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kombucha Mushrooms Come in All Shapes, Sizes, and Colors!

According to Happy Herbalist, a cream colored, 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick baby is normal and healthy. Thin cultures may be attributed to cold brewing temperatures (2) and other factors (3). (One would ideally brew between 75-85°F at a constant temperature). During the winter, it may help to add more starter tea (~15-20%, vs. the usual 10%) to help kick start the fermentation process (2).

Remember- don't discriminate! Even incompletely formed mushrooms can be perfectly good to use! In the past, I've had kombucha mushrooms with huge holes in them still ferment the tea well and create very healthy babies.

Mushrooms on the thin side may not be as strong as thick ones. In this case, you might want to team up a thin mushroom with another SCOBY, or hopefully your thin SCOBY can grow a thicker baby so you'll be all set.

When brewing at home, it is common for SCOBYs of uneven thickness or varying shades to form, due to low or varying temperatures, and sometimes due to inconsistent environments and brewing cycles. So if this happens to you, don't worry! It's perfectly normal!

The size of your kombucha mushroom will depend on the size and shape of your brewing container. Your SCOBY does not have to lie perfectly near the surface as it ferments- I've placed larger mushrooms inside smaller brewing containers, and they fermented the tea without a problem!

Additionally, although Kombucha mushrooms start out cream colored, they darken over time (4), which could happen due to staining by the tea (5).

And eventually, SCOBYs age, stop creating babies, and lose their ability to ferment the tea, and you will need to continue brewing with another mushroom. While some say that SCOBYs last for 8 batches, others say that they last for 3-4 months (5).

Thus, the life of a kombucha mushroom will differ on a case-by-case basis and probably depends on many factors. But because a new SCOBY forms with each batch, this usually is not a concern anyways! Once you obtain a mushroom and start brewing, you're usually worried about having too many mushrooms, than not enough of them. When you're at that point, it's time to start recruiting some fellow brewers! :)

*Note- all of the mushrooms in the photos within this post are healthy and good to brew with!


Unknown said...

can you eat the babies

Annabelle Ho said...

hello Jeffrey,

although I have not been adventurous enough to try it yet, YES, you can eat SCOBYs! http://www.kombuchacultures.com/ate_kombucha_mushroom.html

my friend also has fed kombucha mushrooms to her dog, and Happy Herbalist lists a number of things you can do with extra mushrooms: http://www.happyherbalist.com/KOMBUCHA_recipes.htm

if you do try eating a SCOBY, I'd be very interested in hearing how it is! :)

GWhiz said...

Hi, Annabelle:
I have used the same SCOBY since May, so it was good to see that they stop being effective. I have several others, too. About a month ago, I decided to try continuous brewing, and it seems to be working pretty well, although I only have a 1-gallon container and a 2-gallon one was recommended. I took out one of the mushrooms today (it looks like it's the older one) and am considering slicing it up and sauteeing it with some veggies (if I get brave enough). If I eat it, I'll let you know if it's good.

Annabelle Ho said...


I'm glad my information was helpful & that the continuous brewing is working for you.

If you do end up sauteeing one of your kt mushrooms with some veggies, let me know! And if you take any pictures, feel free to send them to me, post them on the facebook group, or perhaps you'd like to write a guest post?? :)

Good luck and have fun!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this thread is still active but
I just brewed my first batch of kombucha which produced a very robust, thick, creamy white, evenly colored SCOBY. Probably something to do with the consistently warm and dark spot where the jar is sitting.
I decided to try eating some of the scoby.
I peeled off several pieces and timidly put one in my mouth.
It was sour/sweet, slimy, and VERY CHEWY.
The sour-sweetness flavor is consistent throughout its thickness.
It tasted kind of like a wet, super-chewy gummy bear.
I offered a piece to the dog. He's a fairly picky eater, but he surprises me sometimes by liking things like blueberries, watermelon and roasted garlic.
He didn't recoil at the offering, but he didn't choose to eat it.
I decided to sauté some pieces.
It was easier to tear the scoby than it was to cut with a knife, but my knife isn't very sharp.
I heated some olive oil in a cast iron skillet.
I squeezed excess moisture from the scoby pieces and placed them in the pan like little fish filets.
They immideately started popping and hopping, like they were trying to get out of the pan!
I let them brown and get a little crispy, then set them on a plate till cool enough to try.
The texture was like fried calamari, but still sour-sweet.
I sprinkled some tamari on the fried scoby pieces, and that helped the flavor.
Now the dog was into eating the scoby. The oil made it tastier for him.
I will probably try this again, but I would like to know the nutritional value of kombucha SCOBY.

Annabelle Ho said...

Hi Marlo,

Thanks for sharing, it sounds like you had an interesting experience! I hadn't thought of frying SCOBY pieces before!

I actually did end up tasting a SCOBY too, and wrote about it here http://kombuchafuel.blogspot.com/2009/06/kombucha-gourmet-style-and-city-feed.html.

I'm actually not too sure of the nutritional value of eating a kombucha SCOBY. This is Happy Herbalist's analysis of what's in a kombucha ferment http://happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kombucha.htm (it's also important to remember that not all SCOBYs/ferments are exactly the same. They may have slightly different strains/proportions of strains of bacteria & yeast). I'd imagine that some of the nutrients/bacteria/yeast present in the kombucha ferment are also present in the SCOBY? On the page that I just linked to, it also says "Besides drinking kombucha tea, the anti-inflammatory property of the kombucha mushroom (SCOBY) itself has been studied and is often used in folk medicine applied directly to cuts, burns or abrasions." If I find out anything more, I'll write another follow-up comment and/or post it!