* 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, May 25, 2010

Q&A: How do you grow a thick kombucha mushroom?

Q: How do you grow a thick kombucha mushroom?

A: Remember that Kombucha Mushrooms Come in All Shapes, Sizes, and Colors! Even if your kombucha mother does not look like a perfectly even 1/8 - 1/2 inch thick cream-colored pancake, it could still ferment your kombucha very well!

If you want a thick kombucha mother, you can put some kombucha in a clean glass jar, cover it well with a breathable cloth, and let it sit for a few weeks until a thick mother grows and develops. Or, you can just let one of your kombucha brews ferment for a prolonged period of time until a thick SCOBY forms.

The kombucha will become pretty strong, sour, and acidic if it has been fermenting for a long time, and using this kombucha as starter tea will favor the bacteria and thick SCOBY formation (1). For other uses of sour kombucha, check out Happy Herbalist's recommendations: Kombucha Tea Too Sour?

Acetobacter xylinum has been indicated to be one of the main bacteria in the colony that helps to form the cellulose structure of the kombucha mushroom (2-3). So to favor a thick kombucha mother, you want to favor the bacteria.

For more information on decreasing yeast to bacteria ratios, which will favor the bacteria and a thick SCOBY, visit Kombucha Balance: Decreasing the Ratio of Yeast to Acetobacter Populations.

1. Kombucha Balance: Decreasing the Ratio of Yeast to Acetobacter Populations
2. Greenwalt, C.J., R.A. Ledford, and K.H. Steinkraus. "Determination and characterization of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha." Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und-Technologie 31 (3) (1998): 291-296.3. Malbasa, R., E. Loncar, and M. Djuric. "Comparison of the products of Kombucha fermentation on sucrose and molasses." Food Chemistry. 106 (2008): 1039-1045.


itfactor36 said...

Hi Annabelle,
Have been gleaning much from kombuchafuel.com posts such as this! :)
You wrote above "The kombucha will become pretty strong, sour, and acidic if it has been fermenting for a long time"
I have a question on this:
If a thick kombucha mushroom is left fermenting for weeks on end -- and it thus gets to be very thick and acidic -- then what steps would you recommend to allow such a mushroom to effectively ferment further kombucha??
I have such mushrooms and really do NOT wish to throw these out if they can at all POSSIBLY continue to ferment kombucha.
TY for further hints and links regarding this!

Annabelle Ho said...

Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad you've been finding my posts helpful!

Thick kombucha mushrooms will ferment kombucha very well- there's no need to throw them out! :) If it gets to the point where the mushroom becomes too thick, you can cut up the mushroom in smaller pieces and use the smaller pieces to brew.

What I was trying to get at when I said that the kombucha would become strong, sour, and acidic, is that the strong kombucha may be hard to drink- so you may want to dilute with water or sweet tea to make it drinkable. Also, you may want to use less of the strong tea for starter tea- have it be closer to the 10% range of the overall brew rather than closer to 20% (starter tea is usually 10-20% of the overall brew).

Eiffel Autumn said...

help me pleasee! I am so confused about Kombucha! I moved my Kombucha baby to a new jar of sweet tea. Will it get thicker? Why does the baby get thicker but the "mother" stops getting thicker? I don't understand.

Annabelle Ho said...

Hi Eiffel Autumn,
Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the delayed reply. The kombucha baby should get thicker- it will be helpful if you have some already fermented kombucha in with the sweet tea as well. This can be kombucha from a previous batch, or kombucha bought from the store (just make sure it is unflavored and raw). Warm temperatures also help- ideally the temperature would be around 75-85 F. Finally, something else that helps is making sure not to move the container. When a baby mushroom is growing and getting thicker, moving the container disrupts the growth. That's why the baby mushroom that forms at the surface gets thicker, while the mother mushroom doesn't, because the mother mushroom has been moved around already. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

When I do the DECREASING THE RATIO OF YEAST TO ACETOBACTER POPULATIONS, am I meant to put only some kombucha liquid into a container to brew for a prolonged period to grow a new mushroom, or does it need to be with a mushroom from the start? Please help!

Annabelle Ho said...


Thanks for your question. To be honest, I'm not quite clear from the reading that I've done, whether it's better to have some SCOBY or not when decreasing the ratio of yeast to acetobacter populations. From Kombucha Balance, it sounds like including a mushroom at the beginning is not necessary. http://users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balance/#Less%20Yeast. However, this other post offers some additional suggestions to decrease the ratio of yeast, and it sounds like they recommend using a SCOBY taken from the top of a brew. http://kombuchatea.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/the-great-kombuca-balancing-act. Another option would be to try the process in two containers, one with and one without a SCOBY, and to see what turns out better. Good luck!