* 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 *

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Where is that baby mushroom? If you've been brewing kombucha/have been trying to and haven't been getting any new kombucha mothers, here are some tips:
  • If your SCOBY was previously stored in the fridge: kombucha mushrooms go dormant in the fridge and may need a few cycles to get fully back into gear. Wait a few cycles to see if new SCOBYs begin forming in the next few cycles.
  • Is your kombucha mother sitting on the surface of the kombucha as it brews, and is it getting thicker? If it is, then there's a good chance that the new mushroom is forming right on the top of the old one, with the two mushrooms indistinguishable from one another.
  • Avoid antibacterial soap, because SCOBYs contain bacteria. Use distilled white vinegar to clean your kombucha equipment and brewing vessel instead.
  • Don't add SCOBYs to hot or warm tea, because hot temperatures can kill your SCOBY. You want to add SCOBYs to tea that is room temperature.
  • Avoid any foreign additions to your kombucha (such as herbs, spices, certain types of tea, etc.) unless you know that they are safe. Add flavors and foreign additions during the secondary fermentation (the bottling process), or experiment with foreign additions with your extra kombucha mushrooms. You also want to avoid herbal teas with too many volatile oils, which can harm the SCOBY over time. More about teas for kombucha brewing here.
  • Keep your fermentation vessel in an undisturbed spot, and avoid environments where there is smoke, kitchen smoke, pollen, disturbing fumes such as from paints or solvents, etc.
  • Use only plain kombucha as starter tea.
  • Make sure your sweetener contains some form of sugar either in a dry/crystalline form (ex. evaporated cane juice or sucanat) or liquid form (ex. honey). Stevia and artificial sweeteners don't provide the necessary food for the yeasts.
  • The ability for SCOBYs to ferment the tea and to produce new babies decreases as they age. Older SCOBYs are darker brown in color while younger SCOBYs typically have a creamy, white color.
  • Are you using a stainless steel pot? When I accidentally brewed with an aluminum pot for a few weeks, I did not get any new mushrooms then.
  • The SCOBY might be unhappy with the water. Water can vary widely, such as in the types of minerals present and their concentrations. SCOBYs don't like chlorine. Consider experimenting with filtered water, upgrading your water filter, and the length of boiling time.
  • Sometimes the kombucha is ready to drink before a well-formed kombucha mushroom fully develops. If you are trying to grow a thick kombucha mother, read this post.
1. http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance/#No%20SCOBY


findslt said...

This post speaks directly to our FB conversation. Thanks for the concise list. I'll definitely remember to use sugar next time as opposed to raw agave and see what happens!

Annabelle Ho said...

Thanks, I'm glad you find the list useful! I apologize but I guess my wording wasn't very clear- I don't think using raw agave should be the issue, because it does contain some form of sugar- agave is mostly fructose and glucose. The main "sweeteners" you want to avoid are stevia, artificial sweeteners, and anything that the yeasts can't metabolize. I've updated the wording in the post so hopefully it is more clear. Thanks and good luck!!

rps said...

Off topic for this post, but how does homemade kombucha compare to GT's? I think GT's is way too sweet. Can I brew it for a longer time to get rid of the sugar and still get something good?

Annabelle Ho said...

You can definitely control how sweet your kombucha is! The longer you ferment your brew, the lower the sugar content will be as the yeasts convert more sugars into CO2 and alcohol. I prefer my kombucha to be less sweet and more vinegary, and follow a recipe of 1/4 cup (or 50 g) sugar per quart (4 cups) water and 4 g of loose leaf tea. I also have a chart in another post which shows how various elements of kombucha change with brewing time http://kombuchafuel.blogspot.com/2009/09/factors-affecting-your-brew.html

rps said...

Thanks for the informative chart. I just hope it doesn't taste like apple cider vinegar (without the apples) when it's done.

Annabelle Ho said...

No problem! Just keep on checking on your brew, and stop it at a point when you like the taste! If you accidentally brew for too long, you can add some sweet tea to adjust it, or you can add flavors, such as jams/preserves, during the bottling process to sweeten it up.

capececepac said...

I think my problem falls in line with this bullet-

Is your kombucha mother sitting on the surface of the kombucha as it brews, and is it getting thicker? If it is, then there's a good chance that the new mushroom is forming right on the top of the old one, with the two mushrooms indistinguishable from one another.

Is there a way to fix that? It's not making a new baby scoby and it's getting super thick...Ever experience this? I'm doing the continuous brew method...yuuum :)

Anonymous said...

The issue with my batch is similar to the first bullet.... no new scoby has formed to my knowledge. My mother is sunken to the bottom and there isn't any evidence of a new baby forming on the surface. Is it possible the baby is forming on the mother at the bottom of the jar? I tested it the other day and it is fermenting nicely, not quite to taste yet but bubbles are forming and it's getting less sweet...just no formed baby. I'm just wondering if it's still safe to drink?

Annabelle Ho said...

Hi capececepac,

Thanks for your response. I'm sorry, but I don't know of a way to prevent a SCOBY from getting thicker yet! Usually what I recommend when the SCOBY gets too thick is to cut the mushroom into smaller pieces, and use a smaller piece instead to brew. The new SCOBY will form at the surface of container, and when it gets too thick, cut it again, and repeat. It sounds like you are enjoying your kombucha! :)

Annabelle Ho said...


Thanks for your comment. If the kombucha tastes fine, I think it should be ok to drink, and I would give the SCOBY a few cycles to see if a mushroom forms in some of the upcoming cycles. Pay attention to the thickness of your mushroom to see if it's getting thicker. Also, sometimes it takes 2-4 weeks for a good mushroom to form. Be patient, and don't move around the fermentation much (or at all). The fermentation speed depends on various factors, such as the temperature- ideally it is around 75 - 85 F. (Fermentation is slower at lower temperatures). If a new mushroom doesn't form in 3-4 cycles, then you may want to try starting with a new SCOBY if you can access one.