Kombucha Series Part 1 - Make Your Own SCOBY

A few days ago I mentioned on Facebook that I get a lot of questions about various aspects of kombucha making.  First of all, keep them coming.  I love getting questions!  Secondly, kombucha is one of my very favorite things in the whole world so talking about it and answering questions about it makes me happy.

Many of the questions I get are from first-timers who want to start fermenting tea into kombucha and yet do not have the very basic materials to start and/or are hesitant about the procedure, troubleshooting, etc.

Kombucha SCOBY

Well, short of saying, “Wait until August 6 and BUY MY BOOK!”, I’ve decided to put together a few posts about the kombucha making process and hopefully answer some common questions around the procedure.

Today’s topic: Make your own SCOBY.

As mentioned in previous posts, a SCOBY is a gelatinous glob of bacteria and yeast needed to ferment tea.  In fact, SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.  It is necessary to have one in order to turn tea into kombucha.

IMG_6660

SCOBYs are not hard to come by if you have a friend who makes kombucha.  Each batch of ‘buch creates a new SCOBY and if your friend is a prolific kombucha brewer then chances are that he/she is overrun with SCOBYs and will gladly give you one along with some starter tea in order to get your new batch going.

However, if you don’t know anyone who brews ‘buch and you still want to give it a go, you will find yourself wondering just how to begin without this essential piece of equipment.  Fortunately there are other resources for you to turn to.

As weird as it may sound, you can sometimes find a SCOBY for sale (or for free!) on Craigslist.  Give it a shot.  You can also order a SCOBY from a reputable online source like Cultures for Health or Kombucha Kamp.  But if you’re like me and you’re cheap and like to save money wherever you can, making a SCOBY at home from scratch is quite easy.  It takes a little bit of forethought, a few materials, and time.

Materials needed:

  • A few cups of raw kombucha – I have always used store-bought, but I have read that using commercially bottled kombucha has an additive that inhibits SCOBY growth.  Personally I have had much success using store-bought, but your mileage may vary.  Also, I use plain (not flavored) kombucha when I grow a SCOBY.  For no reason other than if I am going to buy flavored kombucha, I’ll probably want to drink it.  Plain is plenty tasty, but I love flavored ‘buch.  Plain kombucha has fewer things added to it, obviously, so it makes it a logical choice for me.
  • A few cups of strongly brewed tea – Do not use herbal tea for this.  You must use real, honest to goodness camellia sinensis for this – more commonly known as black tea or green tea.
  • A few tablespoons of sugar – I use regular old white sugar, but you can use evaporated cane juice (Sucanat), or raw sugar.  Do not use powdered sugar, honey, stevia, or any kind of artificial sweetener.
  • A glass jar – Large enough to hold 2 or 3 cups of liquid.
  • A cloth or coffee filter to cover the jar and a rubber band to secure it.

Procedure:

  • Brew the tea using the traditional method.  When it is still hot or warm, stir in the sugar until it dissolves.  I use a tablespoon of white sugar per cup of tea.
  • Set the sweetened tea aside on the counter until it comes to room temperature.
  • Pour the room temperature sweetened tea into the glass jar and add the raw kombucha to it.  Lightly stir.
  • Cover the jar with the cloth or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but will keep bugs and critters out.
  • Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for several days, or up to two weeks.  During this time, a SCOBY will grow in the jar.  It will start out as a thin, milky film on the surface of the liquid and get whiter and thicker as days pass.

Notes and Troubleshooting:

  • As you can tell by the equipment and ingredients list, measurements do not have to be exact.  A few cups of room temperature sweetened tea plus a cup or two of kombucha is about as precise as you need to be.
  • The amount of time it will take a SCOBY to grow depends on the ambient temperature of your house.  Fermentation, generally speaking, goes more rapidly in warmer temperatures than in cooler temperatures.  My place, for example, is generally very warm and things ferment and grow rapidly in my kitchen.  However, my parents’ house is usually very cool and ferments take a bit longer there.
  • There are no hard and fast rules about how thick a SCOBY has to be in order to be fit for kombucha making; however, I allow my SCOBYs to grow to between a quarter inch and a half inch thick before I use them for fermentation – this can take a couple of weeks.  The only reason I have to doing this is because at that point it is solid enough to handle and I know that the bacteria and yeasts are robust and healthy after a few weeks.

IMG_6662

  • Do not discard the liquid the SCOBY grew in!  This is the starter tea you will need to use when making your first batch of kombucha.  It is full of bacteria and yeast and will keep your SCOBY hydrated and well fed.
  • If you see brown thread-like things floating in your tea or growing off of your SCOBY, do not worry.  This is good!  Little yeasty goodness that will help make your first batch of buch healthy and full of probiotic goodness.
  • Kombucha and SCOBYs smell like feet.  Do not be alarmed.
  • Mold, insect eggs, rancid garbage-like smells mean that something went wrong.  Discard the whole enterprise and start over from scratch.  DO NOT USE!
  • If nothing grows after a week or so, start over using a different kind of kombucha to start.  Get a cup off a friend, or try a different store-bought brand.  As mentioned above, I have never had a problem making my own SCOBYs from store-bought, but you may run into a snag.

Please give this a try if you are considering making your own kombucha.  If you have made your own SCOBY, share your tips and hints and tricks in the comments.  ALSO! I will be doing a weekly post about kombucha making and I want your input!  Leave me a comment.  Email me.  Contact me via Facebook or Twitter.  Let me know what you want to learn about, what your burning questions are, and how I can help you to get going and brewing your delicious delicious ‘buch!

165 Comments

  1. Jamie
    April 18, 2013 1:45 pm

    I have made three attempts at making my own kombucha. Once growing my own scoby, and twice from a friend’s scoby. All three times I have ended up with a moldy batch, which is not common, but do you have any tips? It was mold, because it was black, green, fuzzy and on top.

    • Jill
      April 18, 2013 1:49 pm

      Hm. More details on your procedure might help me troubleshoot this. First of all, what kind of tea are you using? What kind of vessel? Where in your house are you letting it ferment? What is the temperature like? What are you covering it with? Send me an email with your details and I’ll see what I can do to help you out!

  2. Paul
    April 18, 2013 8:33 pm

    So, just use regular old black tea? I’m a huge fan of Barry’s Gold Blend Tea from Ireland. Is that sufficient?

    • Jill
      April 18, 2013 8:37 pm

      Regular old black tea is just fine, Paul. And Barry’s will work well. When making a SCOBY I don’t use fancy tea. I save that for when I’m making an actual batch of kombucha that I’m going to drink.

  3. Sarah
    April 19, 2013 11:07 pm

    Trying this right now with a store bought (locally made) kombucha. Crossing my fingers that this will work. Thanks so much for the instructions!

  4. Alysia
    May 1, 2013 10:59 am

    I’m trying this and it’s been about a week and a half…I’m not getting a thin film at the top but instead I have sort of a…white blob…that’s floating. It’s probably the size of two quarters. Am I on the right track or should I start over?

  5. Lauren H
    June 17, 2013 5:48 pm

    I am very sensitive to caffeine and only drink herbal or decaffeinated tea for medical reasons. Any way this would work with black tea with the caffeine removed?

  6. Todd Weldner
    July 31, 2013 3:07 pm

    Is there anyway to make a scoby from scratch without the Kombucha from a store? Or with out any Kombucha at all.

    • Jill
      July 31, 2013 3:09 pm

      If you can get your hands on some homemade kombucha, that is even better than store bought. And without kombucha at all? I don’t know of a way to do that.

  7. Lisa
    August 7, 2013 2:07 am

    Hello. I received a scoby and starter tea from a friend. Unfortunately the entire batch tipped and drained out. I promptly made sweetened tea with some green tea and a passion fruit green tea. With no starter tea available, I read that you can add vinegar. So I did that too. Do you think this poor scoby and my buch has a chance or should I start over?

    • Jill
      August 7, 2013 6:14 am

      I say give it a chance to prove itself before throwing it away. If it works, great! If not, start over.

    • Roger lambert
      July 24, 2014 2:02 pm

      Hi Clair. I’ve been fermenting vinegar for more than 20 years. The “acetobacter” that ferments alcohol to vinegar makes the “mother”. Adding vinegar that does not have a live culture within will not produce the “mother” that is, unless the culture gets into it naturally. I have plenty of mother and I have started my own SCOBY from scratch using a “small bit” of the live vinegar that I have. If you want to get a live acetobacter going, add a small flower from your garden such as daisy or dandelion. These flowers are natural carriers of the acetobacter. You can always discard the flower once you see a mother started. Its worth a try.

  8. Charlene
    August 14, 2013 1:37 pm

    Have made two batches of kombucha now, which seem to have worked out, I find maybe too vinegary!
    I have gotten 2 scobies in one batch, is this normal.??
    Also I have mine in the fridge in a jar, will this harm scoby?

    Best Regards

    • Jill
      August 14, 2013 10:18 pm

      One SCOBY will grow in to two SCOBYs so after you’ve brewed a new batch you should have two.
      The extra doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge. At room temperature in a container of sweetened tea is fine.

  9. Trisha
    August 14, 2013 9:28 pm

    I’m attempting my very first KT brew, I’m trying to grow my own scoby from store bought (organic) unsweetened/unflavored KT. After about 4 days, I my brew is light yellow/brownish with a thin white layer on the surface, with lots of big white bubbles.
    Is this batch ruined….should I dump it and start over? I’d appreciate any and all advice/help!!

    • Jill
      August 14, 2013 10:18 pm

      Don’t dump it! The thin white layer on the surface is a new SCOBY growing! This is what you want! Big white bubbles means that it’s working. DO NOT DUMP IT!

  10. Rich
    August 18, 2013 10:28 pm

    I made a ginger bug to use to make ginger ale. After I used it to make two liters, I added water to get the jar full again, and put it in the fridge to “rest.” I just pulled it out after a few weeks, and it looks like its growing a scoby. I know i can’t use the “juice” from the bug to make tea, because its ginger. But can i use the scoby??

  11. Haleigh
    August 19, 2013 4:23 pm

    Hi Jill!
    I’m a first timer with making Kombucha and growing my own SCOBY. If I let the scoby grow for more than two weeks is that bad? I’m going out of town but I’d like to get one growing.

    • Jill
      August 20, 2013 6:23 am

      It’s not bad. It will be fine for over 2 weeks. The kombucha you make from it may be a bit sour/vinegary, but the SCOBY will be fine.

  12. Natasha
    August 22, 2013 2:58 am

    Hello to a fellow kombucha enthusiast! I am
    Based in Britain. My uncle in Malaysia really wants a Scoby. Can I post it to him in a tuperware?

    Natasha

    • Jill
      August 22, 2013 6:46 am

      Hi Natasha! I wouldn’t send your uncle a SCOBY. They’re delicate little creatures that require a (mostly) constant temperature to stay healthy. There is no way you can guarantee its environment while it’s being mailed to Malaysia. There are companies that send SCOBYs through the mail, although I’m not sure they ship to Malaysia. Do some investigation and let me know what you find.

  13. Sabrina
    August 23, 2013 2:57 pm

    I just made kombucha and I was so excited to start up again, after 2 years. Anyways I went right by the book but used loose green tea and I think some af the leave powder got on the bottom in my jar and now my kombucha batch is cloudy and I will throw it out. Iam very sad!!! This NEVER happended. Iam now making my own scoby wish me luck

  14. Shannon
    August 24, 2013 3:14 am

    Hi…. I have been googling and trying to find out if I have done this right? Ok so I made my own scoby, and I ended up forgetting about it for quite some time, and it grew to about 1″ thick. Which I thought was good. When I went to actually make kombucha I took off a tiny baby one and made 2 baches!! Ok, so here’s my question, why then do I have a new scoby growing at the top of my jars instead of on the actual scoby that I grew and making a baby one???

    • Jill
      August 24, 2013 6:14 am

      The one growing on the surface IS the baby. The one you grew initially did so in layers that you could separate because that’s how SCOBYs grow on the surface of the tea. Otherwise the mother is the starter SCOBY you begin the batch with, and the baby is the new one that grows on the surface. They do not need to be attached to be mom and baby.

  15. Mike
    August 25, 2013 2:02 am

    I want to make my own kombucha but don’t have access to bottles of kombucha or the chance to get a scoby….. is there a way I can start it all from scratch? I mean someone, somewhere make the first ever kombucha….

    • Roger lambert
      July 24, 2014 2:23 pm

      Hi Mike. I’ll share with you what I attempted. 250ml of water, 1 teaspoon sugar (Dextrose), 1 tablespoon of “live” vinegar and 1/8th teaspoon of bakers yeast. Bakers yeast because its readily available. The idea is; the yeast consumes the sugar and makes alcohol and the live vinegar culture (acetobacter) consumes the alcohol to make more vinegar and the “mother”. My first attempt and after 3 days, there is definitely alcohol being made RE: bubbles from the bottom and a mother appears to be forming in batches on the surface. I’ve been fermenting vinegar for more than 20 years and have the live culture. For you to get a live culture, allow some apple cider vinegar to be left open to the air with a few small flowers from your garden. You should see a mother growing in about a week if all goes well. Use a bit of this liquid for the live culture. I don’t know what the outcome will be a few weeks from now but it looks promising. And I agree with you; somebody somewhere must have made this from scratch.

  16. Charlene
    September 18, 2013 8:30 pm

    I have made 2 batches of Kombacha with great success, my 3rd batch I had to discard because the scoby didn’t look good ( it was looked sick ) didn’t want to take a chance!! The only thing I did different was not let the tea sit long enough , I think the tea may have been too hot?? I did let it sit for 2 hrs once brewed.
    Not going to give up, going to try again!

  17. Sarah
    September 30, 2013 9:27 am

    Hi! I’m a scoby newbie and I tried making my own from store bought ‘buch… Something is definitely growing in there… but on the bottom of the jar… White fluff with little darker spots in it. It doesn’t smell nasty ay all… Is this still going well?

  18. Paige
    October 14, 2013 12:34 pm

    I want to try to grow a SCOBY on my own. But when I do, can I make the SCOBY and tea at the same time? Meaning will I be able to drink the Kombucha tea once the new SCOBY is created? Or is this process of growing a fresh new SCOBY is for that purpose only?

    • Jill
      October 14, 2013 12:52 pm

      You can drink that tea, it will be kombucha; however, when you go to make a full batch of kombucha using your new SCOBY, you’ll need some starter tea. If you drink it, you won’t have any starter tea.

      • Eileen
        August 1, 2014 10:45 am

        I grew my SCOBY and started brewing my first batch of Kombucha. I have some of the tea left where I grew my SCOBY in. Can I drink that or should I save it for the next batch? Can I drink it and then use a little from the kombucha im brewing now as a starter?

  19. Paige
    October 14, 2013 3:08 pm

    Thank you. I bought a SCOBY and have my first small batch waiting now. I just want to try to keep it going so I will always have some on hand. I was going to make a bigger batch and of course leave some starter tea. Thank you again.

  20. Patricia
    October 14, 2013 8:10 pm

    What can I do with extra scobys. Can I keep them in fridge or room temp? Thanks

  21. Patricia
    October 15, 2013 11:25 am

    I have several scobys, I can’t use them all. I put them in a plastic container with tea from starter. Is this ok? I’m new at this so I’m wondering if it should smell like apple vinegar.

    • Jill
      October 15, 2013 11:31 am

      I would keep them in a glass container. Plastic can be toxic to both the SCOBYs and you.

      And it should definitely have a smell to it. Vinegary/fermenty smell is good.

  22. Patricia
    October 15, 2013 11:26 am

    Thanks for the information, so far.

  23. miyo kachi
    October 21, 2013 4:04 pm

    I’m finding your blog helpful and encouraging. In response to some other questions about starting, I am wondering if one could use the mother from a batch of organic apple cider vinegar- or any organic vinegar with mother in it the way one might use the mother from a kombucha? it seems as though it is likely to be the same kind of bacteria?

    • Jill
      October 21, 2013 4:13 pm

      The bacteria may be the same, but the yeast is not. Better to use a SCOBY.

      • Sandra Haley
        February 11, 2014 9:47 pm

        I make my own homemade vinegar from fruit leavings, refined sugar and yeast. Once it ferminted, I strain. And then cover with cloth, and it makes mother, to me it looks like the same as scoby, could It be the same? I have cheated before and used braggs, but most times wild yeast will do the trick. Could making scoby work if I used yeast in the sweet tea to help ferment it?

        • Jill
          February 12, 2014 6:02 am

          Same idea but different collection if bacteria and yeast. It will work, but have a different flavor. Give it a try and maybe you’ll like it even more. I stick to the way described in this post to ensure I have the bacteria and yeast that will make my kombucha reliably ferment and taste the way I want it to.

  24. Richard Tuck
    October 29, 2013 5:35 am

    Hello Jill.

    Ive just brewed my first batch and am confused about whether I should use the mother again or thw new scoby for the second batch. How do you decide?
    Thank you
    Richard

  25. Robyn
    October 31, 2013 11:48 pm

    Hi I am planning to make my first batch of kombucha I have bought a bottle of the drink 330ml it was in the fridge section it says it is organic it has a couple of bits of the culture in the bottle.
    What do I do next?
    Do I put it in a glass jar add the sugar/tea brew as instructed etc. in other words this bottle should be enough to start the home brew process??
    Many thanks Robyn

  26. Adrienne
    November 10, 2013 10:42 am

    Hi, I am growing my first Scoby, it’s been two weeks and I have a very thin broken up layer of white film, with stingy brown pieces under it. It still has sugar on the bottom of the jar and has a very faint smell of puke. Is this normal. I tried to are Rejuvalc with wheat and it had the same very faint smell of puke to me so I threw it out. Thanks

    • Jill
      November 10, 2013 10:52 am

      Hi Adrienne. A few things:
      You shouldn’t have any visible sugar in your jar when you’re growing a SCOBY. When you brewed the tea, you should have dissolved the sugar into hot or warm tea, let it come to room temperature, and then added some kombucha to it.
      From what you describe, the white film and stringy brown bits are a SCOBY trying to grow. These are good signs. I’m surprised it took two weeks, though, but that could be from the sugar not being dissolved in the liquid.
      Also, fermentation does smell weird sometimes, but shouldn’t smell like vomit.
      Perhaps starting over from scratch with dissolved sugar will be a better start.

  27. Michelle
    November 12, 2013 2:56 am

    What is the next step?? The thin layer is on top and I’m waiting for it to thicken, when and how do I start my first brew?? Thanks!

  28. kyla
    December 22, 2013 11:37 pm

    I ordered from kombucha kamp. A baby scoby is forming but there are no bubbles. Does that mean the scoby has gone bad already?

  29. laurie w
    January 8, 2014 10:37 am

    Is ginger bug the same as kombucha? It never has a ‘skin’, but you can perpetuate it by saving a small amount [like sourdough bread starter]. Just wondering. Thanks

  30. Kathy V
    January 16, 2014 7:46 am

    An herbalist friend coached me on starting my first batch of ‘buch. After 1 week, I am seeing the start of a cluster of white bubbles about 1″ in size. Is this the start of a SCOBY? I live in the western part of NYS and it’s winter for sure, so my home stays at about 65 degrees. After seeing the result, I’m presuming the ambient temperature may slow the fermentation process down and am concerned about that. What do you recommend, Jill? Thanks!

    • Jill
      January 16, 2014 8:20 am

      Send me a photo so I can be sure, but it sounds like you have some slow fermentation going. If you can, wrap your jar in holiday lights to give it some warmth. Or store it on top of your fridge.
      It’s not bad that it’s slow, but that seems REALLY slow.

  31. Rosemary
    January 17, 2014 10:06 pm

    Thank you for this information posted here Jill, I have been trying to work out why my Kombucha isn’t making babies and I think it may be from me using coconut flower sugar? Or the room has been too cold?
    The Kombucha drink itself from the mother that someone gave me has been great but no babies. (I did have to bring it on a 9 hour flight and travel with it for a week, not ideal from the start!)
    The last brew unfortunately developed white fluffy mould on the top I think and it was looking very promising as a film at first. The mother dropped to the bottom of the jar.
    There is no mould on the mother scoby, do i still need to through it out?

    • Jill
      January 17, 2014 11:57 pm

      Once it has any mold on it at all, even if the SCOBY doesn’t, is toss it and start over. Mold and kombucha do not mix. I just had to pour a gallon down the drain the other day. So sad!
      Hope this helps.

  32. Rosemary
    January 19, 2014 7:19 pm

    Thanks Jill oh so sad……

  33. Margaret
    January 29, 2014 3:35 am

    Hi Jill!

    I have bought 4 bottles of Kombucha to make my own SCOBYs. The first 2 bottles were GT’s enlighten, I put them into separate quart jars with sweet tea as described in your post. Upon further research I read the Classic GT was better for developing SCOBYs so I bought 2 of those today.

    The first bottle I opened “popped” from the carbonation but the 2nd bottle did not and when I went to pour it into the jar there were 4 baby SCOBYs! I was shocked and thrilled! There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them, in fact they look awesome! I put them in their own jar with sweet tea. Is it safe to use them?

    Thanks!

  34. Titi
    February 10, 2014 3:50 pm

    Ok! So Once the Scoby is formed, we should drink from the liquid and leave some to keep the scoby? Or make another bottle for storing the scoby only? Also, what do we do, when we have too many scobys? What’s the shelf life of a scoby such that it becomes useless?
    Sorry about the too many questions, I don’t want to waste such a precious thing as a scoby.

    • Jill
      February 11, 2014 9:50 am

      You can drink the liquid (it’s kombucha after all) but a better use for it is to help your next batch of kombucha get started. It’s starter tea.
      When you have a collection of SCOBYs, start giving them away to your friends so that they can make their own delicious probiotic fermented tea.
      If kept fed and in good conditions, SCOBYs can last for years. I’m still using the original SCOBY that was given to me years ago by my friend, Liz.

  35. shea day
    February 16, 2014 2:03 pm

    i followed your directions, and…voila! there is a beautiful scoby at the top of my 2 qt. jar. getting ready to do the next step. thanks for the instructions!

  36. Sarah
    February 24, 2014 1:22 pm

    I am attempting to grow a scoby from a store bought bottle of Gt’s. A thin layer formed on top and when I moved the bottle, it floated towards the bottom. Then another layer formed on top, same thing happened and it floated toward the bottom. Now a third thin layer has formed. What is going on? Are these all scoby’s? Is it just a funky layer and isn’t working?

    • Jill
      February 24, 2014 1:39 pm

      I’m not sure what’s going on. How long does it take for one of these films to form on top? What else is in the bottle besides GT’s?

      • Sarah
        February 26, 2014 7:11 am

        It takes a few days for a new layer to form. There is nothing else in the bottle, just three inches of kombucha with all the stringy bits from the bottom and a coffee filter in top. There was a post saying that this way is hit or miss and I figured it was worth a shot. A lot of people who commented on the post said this had worked very successfully for them.

        • Jill
          February 26, 2014 7:40 am

          Did you combine your bottled kombucha with room-temperature sweetened tea? Your SCOBY needs fresh tea and sugar to ferment in order to grow. You should have a cup or two of liquid for the SCOBY to grow in/on. The stringy bits are a good sign!

  37. Sarah
    February 24, 2014 2:40 pm

    It takes a few days for a new layer to form. There is nothing else in the bottle, just three inches of kombucha with all the stringy bits from the bottom and a coffee filter in top. There was a post saying that this way is hit or miss and I figured it was worthy a shot. A lot of people who commented on the post said this had worked very successfully for them.

  38. Pingback: Book Review: “Fermented” by Jill Ciciarelli | Health & Wellness Chicago

  39. Randall
    March 18, 2014 8:40 pm

    my original scoby is brown and my new scoby is a lighter color. Does the darkening of the scoby matter? Thanks Randall

  40. Pat
    March 22, 2014 2:31 pm

    Hi Jill,

    We have followed all of the steps to make a scoby, and after about three weeks there’s only a few bubbles/globs on the surface. Is this typical? I thought after 3 weeks we would have more?!

  41. nala
    March 26, 2014 9:52 pm

    Hey jill. I recently began to try my hand at making a scoby. Accidentally I bought and used raspberry flavored (gt synergy) starter. A scoby grew quite well but it is pink tintish. Will this work or should I begin again with plain gt or just use plain gt for the starter? Thanks!

  42. Chris
    March 27, 2014 1:28 pm

    Hello,

    Two months ago I started a brine to form a SCOBY. I used green tea and white sugar with GT original kambucha as starting ingredients. I kept it in the dark with a filter on top the entire time. After 2 months it has only succeeded in turning the liquid very cloudy, like a milky white. There are also very small white gobbules floating on top. It smells normal. I’m thinking of starting over. Any advice would be greatly appreciative!

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Jill
      March 27, 2014 2:24 pm

      Without seeing it, it sounds like you have a SCOBY growing. It shouldn’t take two months though! Bring it out into the light! Put it on your countertop to see if that speeds things along.

  43. Kathy
    April 3, 2014 8:54 pm

    Hi Jill. I was reading the previous post from Chris. I am on day 10 of growing a scoby. I had the jar in a dark closet and after about 7 days it had some bubbles on top but didn’t seem to be growing anymore. I moved it to my kitchen counter where there is more light and heat and it is has gotten thicker in the last fee days.

  44. Laurie J
    April 5, 2014 9:24 pm

    I was making kombucha all last summer and fall. Then I just let my kombucha scoby sit in a pitcher of tea and it has grown lots of layers over the last few months, remaining untouched. Are these scobys good? Can I restart my continuous brew method? How do you know if a scoby is bad? Thanks!!

  45. Merry
    April 22, 2014 12:09 pm

    Hi Jill… I can’t find the answer to this question anywhere else so I am hoping I can find it here :)

    Have been brewing kombucha for the last 3 months and it has been turning out really well. I got the SCOBY from a friend, it looks like she cut a piece off a bigger one, was probably about 3-4 inches in diameter and an inch thick.

    My concern is that it doesn’t grow a baby on the surface of my tea; it ferments the tea just fine, and has the stringy bits in the tea, and seems to get a little bit thicker, but has yet to grow the babies on the surface of the tea I have heard so much about.

    I follow the standard kombucha recipes, so not sure what I am doing wrong… or am I doing anything wrong?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    • Jill
      April 23, 2014 10:53 am

      I have no idea what it could be. Nothing grows on top? At all? Send me an email with more details – kind of tea you’re using, type of sugar, environment, etc. I’ll see what we can figure out.

  46. Elizabeth
    April 24, 2014 8:08 pm

    Hi!

    So far so good–I made my homemade SCOBY and started my first batch of kombucha. I’m curious, though, what I can do with the leftover tea from my SCOBY batch? Any tips and advice will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  47. Elizabeth
    April 25, 2014 8:38 am

    Thanks, Jill– I already started my kombucha with my starter tea and SCOBY, but I have more leftover. Can I bottle this tea and add flavoring?

  48. Andie Guess
    May 8, 2014 10:05 am

    I have been attempting to grow a scoby. So disappointed. I been at this for 2 months and it is just cloudy in one jar with a film on top. The second jar shows nothing. The first jar I tried to grow a scoby produced a vinegar tasting brew which I drank btw. lol I never produced a scoby though. Then the second batch I added some white vinegar to wit you see I have a jar of cloudiness and a clear jar, just brown tea. :( Should I throw this out and start over?

  49. Alex
    May 27, 2014 2:55 pm

    Hi Jill,

    I have an odd question.
    4 days ago I brewed my starter (4 litres of water, 2 cups of sugar and green tea – from leaves)
    I didn’t leave enough time for the starter to cool adequately before I had to go away for the weekend so I put the starter in the fridge, in a separate container to, but next to, my kombucha mother.
    I’ve arrived home, eager to add the mother, but the starter already smells vinegary and has a film on top.
    Have you any experience of this? Can I salvage the starter?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Jill
      May 27, 2014 6:17 pm

      Maybe there was enough bacteria flying around to start something but it’s unusual that it happened in the fridge.
      I say proceed as normal and see what happens!

  50. lisa
    June 1, 2014 9:12 am

    Good Morning, Jill

    Three weeks ago, I began to grow what I had hoped would be a scoby.

    Today I looked at it. In the back of the jar is this non-uniformed something the color of a scoby. It’s roughly 1/2″, has a small hole near the edge and has things hanging off the bottom of it.

    The smell of the liquid is sweet with a hint of vinegar.

    I had used black tea, organic sugar and plain store bought Kambucha.

    i just looked at the jar again, there are also a couple more smaller things floating at the top.

    Am I on the right track, or should I start again.

    Thank you.

  51. Susan
    June 1, 2014 6:17 pm

    Hi Jill,

    I received a SCOBY from a friend. I have been fermenting this for 2 weeks. Today, when I removed the cover, there was a tiny fruit fly on the SCOBY. I used cheesecloth to cover which may have been the mistake, and the fly may have come from the bananas close by. The SCOBY looks good and has grown. but I didn’t know if I should be concerned.

    Also, I have a couple questions. First, my tea was cloudy and the current kombucha remains cloudy. I used loose leaf black tea and organic raw sugar (completely dissolved). Is the cloudy appearance ok, and is there a way to resolve this in the future? My second question is can the new SCOBY pup grow under the mother if she is floating on top? There seems to be a new loosely connected culture under the mother. I will be happy to forward photos if that would help. Even if I have to discard this batch along with the SCOBY, I want to prevent the same errors.

    Thanks for your help! Susan

    • Jill
      June 1, 2014 8:27 pm

      Be VERY wary of the fruit fly. I would start over at the first sign of insects.
      Also, cloudy tea: not a problem. In fact it’s a sign of yeast growth. No worries!
      It doesn’t matter if the mother is floating on top or has sunk to the bottom. A new SCOBY will grow. My SCOBYs tend to float and a new layer just grows on top making the original mother very thick. If you want up separate them out, you can either just peel the younger SCOBY away from the mother (like layers on a biscuit) or cut the big SCOBY apart into chunks.

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  53. Jaime
    June 14, 2014 11:10 pm

    Do you have to use white sugar? Can you use coconut sugar, homey, maple syrup, etc? Thanks :)

    • Jill
      June 14, 2014 11:17 pm

      Coconut sugar, yes. All others you asked about, no. White sugar does work very well, but if you’re not into that there’s a whole sugar section in the guide and in Fermented.

  54. Chris Moore
    June 18, 2014 9:28 pm

    My Scoby seems to be celebate. I think I’m making some nice Kombucha, but alas, no baiy scobies. Thoughts?

    • Jill
      June 18, 2014 9:48 pm

      No thoughts until I have more info. How did you start? What tea, sugar, kombucha did you use? How are you storing it?

      • Chris Moore
        July 4, 2014 11:22 am

        I was given a Scobie in approx. 2 cups of previously made Kombucha. I brewed 1/2 gallon of green tea and added 1 cup of white sugar. Cooled it down to room temp and added the SCOBIE and additional kombucha. Stored my batch it a 1/2 gallon glass jar with a thin wash cloth over mouth of jar. Left it on the counter for 8-10 days and proceeded to bottle. I have made 3-4 batches so far, and still no babies.

        • Kim
          July 20, 2014 11:05 pm

          This happened with my 1st batch too. I also received a scoby from a friend with starter tea. I’m just starting my second batch, I think I will try and brew it longer to see if I get a baby. I’m also trying to grow a scoby from store bought kombucha.

        • Chris Moore
          August 4, 2014 7:48 pm

          Any Thoughts? My friend says I need to talk to the scobie more…

  55. Sasha
    July 5, 2014 2:39 am

    I did the GT Original thing and have 3- 1cup jars going, all have been going for a little over a week,ckoser to two weeks. I used Salada tea and organic sugar. They all have a clear gelatinous thing growing, they are rather slimy and have the whispy brown things growing under them. Thing is, they are staying clear. I tasted the one jar and it’s sweet and hint if vinegar, but also kind of a syrupy/thick taste/texture (still pleasant flavored), but nothing like the thinner GT kombucha . Should I just let them go? I thought I’d have better thicker scobys by now.

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  57. Sasha
    July 17, 2014 8:59 am

    Ok, cool. I was worried because even now, there is no change and it’s nearing a month and they are still clear jelly. I am debating on making a gallon jar with new sugar tea and just dumping all 3 baby scobys in that jar with one cup of the starter I have now. Maybe adding them to a fresh batch will get them kickin’, what do you advise?

  58. Kaydia
    July 24, 2014 11:36 pm

    Hi jill, such a insightful post!
    I am so new to making my own mother. Where I’m located I only was able to get my hands on GT KT with ginger (it had the least added ingredients, just raw kt and 100% ginger) I couldn’t find an original plain one. It’s been about 5 days and it looks like it’s forming. But will it be a true “mother” scoby since I used a ginger flavored KT to start? Also will the tea reserve I use to make my 1F ‘buch tea be ok using it if it has the ginger in it? Thanks so much in advanced

  59. bruce
    July 29, 2014 12:40 pm

    What if you don’t have the starter tea?

  60. Julie
    July 30, 2014 11:51 pm

    I just made my first batch. A friend gave me a scoby and starter. The starter was green teas and hibiscus and rose hip combination. She brewed the tea, added the sugar and sent me home to combine them the next day. I combined them and waited 2weeks. A new scoby grew. The tea was not bubbly and seemed sweet and flat. I reserved 2 cups of the mixture with the scobies.

    My question is why so sweet and why no bubbles?

    • Jill
      August 27, 2014 2:55 pm

      The bubbles come when you allow fermentation to happen in a closed container. The sweetness will abate the longer it ferments.

  61. Renee
    August 1, 2014 3:21 pm

    Since my scoby has died (forgot about it and liquid evaporated and scoby dried up) I decided to have a go at forming my own from bottles of my homemade kombucha. My concern is that the kombucha had strawberries and raw honey mixed in. It seems to be working, and after a week it smells fine and there is a very thin scoby-looking-thing floating on top. (I could email photo if desired.) Does it affect the scoby in any way if it was formed within the strawberry and honey tea? Thanks for any help!

  62. Tricia Clifton
    August 27, 2014 2:33 pm

    Hi! My scobies have been growing for almost 3 weeks, each in a 1/2 gallon jar. They are white and bubbly but isconnected and so thin it practically disrated when I touched it. There is a blob t is thicker on each one. Is it just taking longer or maybe to much tea? This amout is what I was told: 7 cups tea (with 1 tbs of tea leaves) 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup starter tea. What do you think? Thanks

    • Jill
      August 27, 2014 2:51 pm

      Sounds like it just may need more time. How warm is the place where you’re keeping your jar? Warm temps will encourage growth and fermentation.

  63. Melanie
    August 30, 2014 12:38 pm

    Hi Jill…exceptional instructions first timers like me!

    My scoby has grown to abt 3/8s of an inch thick but it’s become concave-like and seems to have lost contact with the fluids below. At least the edges have. I’m wonderingif it’s okay to leave it like this for a few more days when I’m ready to brew? It’s been 10 days so far.

    Thanks again for all the wonderful advice you’ve shared with us thus far…

  64. Melanie
    August 30, 2014 12:57 pm

    Hi again

    I got a bit antsy and shook my jar so the entire disc has slowly descended to the bottom. Sigh. Please let me know if everything will be ok:)

    Thanks again

    • Jill
      August 30, 2014 1:47 pm

      It will be ok! Mine often get weirdly warped and bubble up. Shouldn’t be a problem. At 3/8 inch, I say start a batch and see what happens. Keep me posted!

      • Melanie
        September 10, 2014 5:30 pm

        Hi again!

        I went ahead and brewed a gallon of Oolong Kombucha and it went off without a hitch! Your step-by-steps are so awesome and downright foolproof. Ta very much again:)

        Soo my final question is around bottling of the finished product.
        I am still looking for suitable bottles to use; I live in Canada and it’s taking me a bit longer than anticipated to find safe Grolsch-style bottles.

        I’m wondering if I can just simply strain out the 2 SCOBYs and stick the entire glass gallon jar in the fridge? And simply enjoy my Kombucha directly from the jar? I have one of those flip-top gallon jar covers I can use to cover the jar but it’s not going to be airtight as enough pressure will pop up the opening.

        I’m 9 days into my brew and don’t want it to sit out much longer…

        Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, Jill…

  65. Melanie
    August 30, 2014 5:59 pm

    Okay…tvm Jill

  66. Stacie
    August 31, 2014 1:43 am

    Hi! I’m so thankful for your blog. I received a skoby from a friend and followed directions to make a brew. It sit for a week and it developed a pretty little skoby-eyte. I pulled out the skoby my friend gave me and then I pulled out 80% of the liquid and bottled it. I brewed the sweet tea and it has sit for a week but the new skoby is thin. What has gone wrong?
    Also, you talk about growing a skoby before making your brew. They are separate things?
    I’d love your insight!

    • Jill
      August 31, 2014 7:35 am

      The longer you let the tea ferment, the thicker the SCOBY will get.
      And you don’t have to grow your own. I provided those instructions for people who had no SCOBY to start with.

  67. Jillian
    September 5, 2014 3:05 pm

    Hi! I brewed a batch of tea and let it sit covered overnight to cool… and of course didn’t have time to do anything with it the next day. Is that tea that has been sitting out not good to use now?

  68. Tara
    September 5, 2014 9:39 pm

    Hello!

    I started my scoby brew about 3 weeks ago using a store bought kombucha. A few days ago I checked on it and a beautiful scoby had formed. I placed it back in the cabinet for about 4 days until I could get around to my first batch of kombucha. Today I took it out and the scoby has sunk to the bottom and there is a solid white disc floating on top. Everything “smells” like kombucha. Is it a new scoby?

  69. Melanie
    September 10, 2014 5:31 pm

    Hi again!

    I went ahead and brewed a gallon of Oolong Kombucha and it went off without a hitch! Your step-by-steps are so awesome and downright foolproof. Ta very much again:)

    Soo my final question is around bottling of the finished product.
    I am still looking for suitable bottles to use; I live in Canada and it’s taking me a bit longer than anticipated to find safe Grolsch-style bottles.

    I’m wondering if I can just simply strain out the 2 SCOBYs and stick the entire glass gallon jar in the fridge? And simply enjoy my Kombucha directly from the jar? I have one of those flip-top gallon jar covers I can use to cover the jar but it’s not going to be airtight as enough pressure will pop up the opening.

    I’m 9 days into my brew and don’t want it to sit out much longer…

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, Jill…

  70. Lucy
    September 13, 2014 5:48 pm

    Ok so I have read about kombuncha but never got my hands on a scoby so I haven’t tried it. Well i made some apple cider vinegar and I really think a scoby has formed. Do I just put it into a tea and let it grow? Is this even possible.

  71. Sammy Pineau
    September 21, 2014 6:47 pm

    I just finished making my first SCOBY (two weeks), but when I put it in the batch of 3 1/2 quarts of sweetened black tea plus 2 cups of unsweetened organic raw store bought Kombucha, it sank! Is that okay or should I start over? The SCOBY seemed just right – about 1/4 inch thick and looked just like the pictures.
    I’d appreciate any help you can give me.

  72. Sammy Pineau
    September 21, 2014 11:48 pm

    Thank you, I’m waiting and watching – Can I try to make a new SCOBY using the leftover liquid plus more sugar, tea and some raw Kombucha form the health food store or completely start all over just in case it isn’t fine?
    This is fun and frustrating at the same time.

  73. Adrienne
    October 7, 2014 10:46 am

    My question – I have made several batches now – all great – now this week my 2 gallon jars and one of my qt jars are more of a milky white color- opaque- not the normal kombucha color?? The other qt jars I made at the same time are all fine. Doesn’t smell off, not moldy. Is this a variation of normal, safe to drink??

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  77. Jessie
    February 3, 2015 9:39 am

    Hi Jill!
    I’m glad I found your page and I’m hoping you can help!
    I got hooked on kombucha over the summer while living in OR. I have since moved to MN and haven’t found any local brews as good as those out west so I decided to start making my own. I attempted to make my own SCOBY and started on Sept 18. I used 7C spring water, 1cup sugar, 4 organic black tea bags and 1 bottle of GT Raw Kombucha. I realized in the first few weeks this would be a process as it was growing very slowly. I’ve noted optimal temps for growth are a min of 70-72 degrees. Being in MN our house ranges low-mid 60’s but hasn’t been higher than 67. Anyways, I let it go to see what would happen because it did eventually grow, but not I need to decide to trash it and start over or if I can use it. It’ll be 20 weeks on the 2/5/15 and it looks good! White bubbles, no mold, but it smells like strong vinegar. Can I use it??!! Any thoughts will be most helpful!!
    Thank you!!

  78. Desiree
    February 11, 2015 11:08 pm

    Hi I started a scoby about 4 weeks ago and i still dont have a disk like scoby just bits and blobs floating. It does have a vineagary smell though. At first I think that the room was too cold so I switched it to a warmer room. Do you think I should start over or will it still turn into a scoby.

  79. Maurene
    February 28, 2015 11:31 pm

    Thank you Jill and all the enthusiastic posters for sharing experiences. I’ve been making ‘buch since last July and have had some great batches especially the ones bottles with flavorings. The last two batches I let 2 – 3 SCOBYs slip from the mother/baby jar into the gallon jar with cool sweet tea and It a large patch of bubbles formed on one side – am concerned it’s a sign of alcohol forming. If it has a harsh taste could that also be a sign of alcohol content?

    • Jill
      March 1, 2015 5:43 am

      Make no mistake about it, there will be some alcohol formed when making kombucha. Probably not enough to make you intoxicated but it is always drink at your own risk.

  80. Sonja
    March 3, 2015 11:26 pm

    Jill,

    Thank you for all the great information. I am a newbie to this and about 10 days ago I brewed my first tea (Lipt*n) & added a cup of store bought organic kombucha. I covered it and have been patiently waiting for my scoby to grow. I’ve kept it covered and in a corner on the kitchen counter, there is stuff growing and it does have the fermenting smell but it looks like it might be mold and I’m not sure….suggestions?

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