* 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 *
Showing posts with label troubleshooting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label troubleshooting. Show all posts

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!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Average One-Gallon Kombucha Recipe

So I meant to make this a really brief Kombucha Brewing Recipe, but there was too much important information! So the truly short and simple recipe may have to wait. And I promise to post more Kombucha brewing/bottling details! These are just the "essential basics"!

Note: DO NOT use soap, which can kill some of the bacteria/probiotics! Please clean with distilled vinegar or some sort of sanitizer used by brewers, such as Iodophor!


  • 1 brewing container
    -glass is best
    -size depends on how much you want to brew
  • 1 SCOBY aka a Kombucha Mushroom
  • 3 quarts water (aka 12 cups)
    -preferably filtered water
  • 5-6 tea bags (or around 2-3 tsp. or 15 g of loose leaf tea)
    -ex. Organic Green, Oolong, or Black Tea, or a combination
  • 3/4 cup sugar (around 150 g)
    -What’s typical: organic evaporated cane juice
  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) starter tea
    -From your previous batch, or some good, raw, store-bought, unflavored KT
    -The starter tea should be 10-20% of your overall brew
  • 1 clean cloth
    -or a paper towel, coffee filter, or cheesecloth
    -make sure it’s big enough to cover the container
  • 1 rubber band
    -or something to secure the cloth on the container
  • Optional: pH strips/pH meter
  1. Boil the water.
    -Not for too long- remove the pot from the heat once the water reaches a boil.
    -Boiling reduces the oxygen and carbon in the water, which are needed for the fermentation process.
  2. Add the tea and allow it to steep for 15 minutes (or follow the specific tea brewing instructions).
  3. Remove the tea bags/tea leaves (or you can leave them there overnight. It's your choice).
  4. Add the sugar and mix it until it all dissolves.
  5. Let the sugar/tea solution cool to room temperature
    -Leaving it overnight is easiest.
    -Make sure the mixture is properly covered so nothing gets inside!
  6. Pour the sugar/tea solution into the brewing container.
  7. Add the starter tea into the brewing container and stir it so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the solution.
    -Optional: check the pH of the liquid. You want it to be between 3-4.
  8. Add the SCOBY.
    -You want the temperatures of the sugar/tea solution, starter tea, and the SCOBY to be the same so that the SCOBY won’t get temperature shocked. SCOBYs are living things!
  9. Cover the container with the clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
    -The goal is to allow oxygen in and keep pathogens out.
    -If you cover the container with cheesecloth, double layer it! The holes in cheesecloth are pretty big and may let pathogens inside.
  10. Put your brewing container in a quiet, undisturbed spot.
    -Every time you brew, a new baby mushroom typically forms.
    -Factors promoting Kombucha Baby Mushroom formation:
    -Constant temperatures
    -Warm temperatures (SCOBYs particularly like 73-83°F, or 21-26°C)
    -Undisturbed spots- every time you disturb your brew, the new mushroom has to begin forming all over again.
    -To avoid:
    -Smoke (ex.: in kitchens)
    -Direct sunlight (brewing in the light is ok, though)
  11. Ferment for 6-8 days (when you’re brewing at around 80°F at a constant temp.)
    -Takes around 8-14 days when you’re brewing in the 70’s.
  12. Your kombucha tea is done! Enjoy! To check-
    -It should taste like semi-sweet cider, hard apple cider, or vinegar
    -Optional: check the pH of your brew. It should be around 2.5-3.5.
  13. Set aside 1.5 cups of KT for your next brew.
  14. Drink your kombucha tea as is, or consider bottling your kombucha or letting it undergo a second fermentation (kombucha wine, anyone?)

Thanks to Happy Herbalist (and my own experience and research) for some of this information!

Note: You do not have to brew a gallon of KT at once! You just need to brew everything proportionally. (A useful conversion: 1 quart = 4 cups).