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Kombucha Mushroom-Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q.  What signs should I look for to determine the kombucha mushroom is culturing properly?

A. A good indication that the kombucha fermentation process is proceeding normally is the formation of a new kombucha culture over the opening of the brewing container.  The development of mold (generally green but not always) is a bad sign.  If your batch of kombucha develops mold, you will need to throw out the batch and the culture (see below).  The most common reason for mold development is improper ingredient ratios (forgetting to add the sugar or starter tea are the most common reasons we are able).  Keep in mind that for the initial batch using a dehydrated culture, it can take up to 28 days at room temperature (68-78 degrees) for signs of a new forming kombucha culture.  This is normal as the cultures generally spend the first 7-21 days rehydrating before the actual culturing process begins.

Q. I'm brewing my first batch of kombucha using the dehydrated culture.  It doesn't seem to be doing anything--how can I know if it's working properly?

A. It can take anywhere from 10-28 days for the first batch of kombucha to show signs of culturing (e.g. the formation of a baby scoby, brown stringy particles, etc.).  The dehydrated cultures generally spend the first 7-21 days rehydrating before the actual culturing process begins.  The overall length of time is influenced by several factors.  The first is room temperature.  If at all possible, try to keep the kombucha someplace that stays between 70 and 78 degrees 24-hours a day (it's okay to move it if necessary to achieve the appropriate temperature just try not to move it too often or you can miss the development of the baby culture).  Cooler temperatures (even if just at night) will slow the process down.  During the summer months, remember to consider drafts caused by air conditioning units which may affect the temperature where the kombucha is sitting.

The second factor is the type of vinegar used.  When we originally tested the dehydrated cultures we tested the nine most commonly available types of vinegar (e.g. apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, wine vinegar, rice vinegar, etc.) and allowed the kombucha to sit in a room kept at around 74 degrees.  At that temperature, baby cultures began forming after 10-21 days.

Kombucha cultures are generally fairly reliable and have only a 1%-2% failure rate (closer to 2% during summer months when they may be exposed to extreme heat during transit).  If you have any concerns that your culture is not working properly, please let us know.

Q.  Why would I need to strain the finished kombucha?

A. Most people will strain their kombucha tea prior to drinking it to filter out the yeast particles (brown and stringy) as well as any baby kombucha cultures which may be forming (often the consistency of a jelly blob of sorts). Click here to view our plastic mesh strainer set which is perfect for this task.

Q.  My kombucha has been fermenting for a period of time and is developing a cloudy layer on top.  Is this normal?

A. Yes.  The cloudy white layer is the beginning of a new baby kombucha culture.  The formation of a new culture is a sign that your batch of kombucha is fermenting properly.

Q.  My kombucha has been fermenting for a period of time and is developing brown stringy particles.  Is this normal?

A. The brown stringy particles are yeast particles and are harmless.  They are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process.  You can strain them out of the finished kefir if desired.

Q.  My kombucha culture sank to the bottom of my container, is floating sideways, rose to the top of the liquid, etc.  Is this normal?

A. Depending on a number of factors (including humidity), the culture may sink, float or sit sideways.  Any of these is normal and will not effect the brewing process.

Q.  The new baby kombucha culture seems to have detached from the container opening.  Will this mess up the fermentation process?

A. Having the baby culture detach from the container opening is common if the jar is bumped or moved.  It does not effect the fermentation process.  If you continue the culturing process, a new baby culture will begin to form on top of the liquid but again, does not affect the culturing process itself.

Q.  I've been storing a batch of finished kombucha for a few days and it seems to be developing a jelly-type mass on top.  Is this normal?  What is it?

A. The jelly-type mass is the beginning of a new baby kombucha culture.  Even after the main kombucha culture is removed, the kombucha remains full of living yeast and bacteria which continue to ferment slowly on their own.  Consequently idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture.  These cultures start out as a jelly-type mass and eventually form a full blown culture.  If you leave a batch of finished kombucha long enough, it will eventually form a full scoby on the top just like it did during the initial fermentation process.  You can remove and use this culture just like any other culture.  If you accidently consume the culture (easy to do when it's still in the jelly-type mass state) it is not harmful.

Q.  One of my kombucha cultures has a hole in it or is only a piece because I had to separate it from mother culture after they fused.  Can I still use it?

A. Kombucha cultures will work just fine even with holes or if they have been torn in half.

Q.  Does the size of the kombucha culture matter in relation to how much kombucha I will be brewing?

A. No, even a small kombucha culture will effectively ferment a full gallon of kombucha.

Q.  My batch of kombucha has developed mold.  What can I do?

A. The most common reason for mold development is improper ingredient ratios (the most common reasons we hear about are forgetting to add the sugar or starter tea) although contamination can also be a factor (could be as simple as a bit of food or soap residue the dishwasher missed).  Once mold has developed, it is very important to toss the whole batch--including the kombucha scoby.  Normally we are all for trying to save cultures but in this case, it would be potentially dangerous to do so.

Q.  My kombucha culture has turned black.  What should I do?

A. A black scoby is a sign of a kombucha culture which has been contaminated or is worn out (takes a long time and many batches to do this).  If your kombucha culture turns black, it should be retired to the compost bin.  Turning black is not to be confused with developing brown or slightly discolored patches.  Yeast build-up will result in brown spots or stringy particles attaching to the scoby and is a normal byproduct of the fermentation process.

Q.  I've been brewing kombucha for awhile and am overrun with kombucha scobys.  What can I do with them?

A. Because a new culture is created with each batch, you may quickly find that you have too many cultures!  If at some point you find yourself with more kombucha scobys than you can use, you can either compost them (they make fantastic compost) or give them away to friends and family (please note: because maintaining proper ingredient ratios is critically important to successfully creating a kombucha which is safe to drink, please be sure to give them a copy of the instructions or refer them to this website to download the instructions so they have all the appropriate information

 
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