Kombucha SCOBY Brewing Problems: What Not to Do
SCOBYs are quite hardy — you can make many mistakes when brewing Kombucha without damaging your SCOBYs.
For consistent quality — and to prevent health mishaps — there are some things you just shouldn’t do with your SCOBY, or when brewing Kombucha.
DO NOT DO THE FOLLOWING:
- Create fresh Kombucha from a SCOBY stored in the fridge
- Use Commercial-bought Kombucha to grow a SCOBY
- Create Kombucha without the starter liquid
- Make Kombucha from Dehydrated SCOBYs
- Let talk about these in more detail.
Never Store Kombucha SCOBYs in the Fridge
Let me repeat this: you do not want to store your SCOBY in the fridge. It’s a living, breathing culture of yeast and bacteria and not meant to be refrigerated. Yes, you can shove your SCOBY in the fridge for a few days or weeks and it might well still brew Kombucha, but it will be greatly weakened in the process.
Refrigerated SCOBY’s, if they work all, often brew flat, and thin Kombucha. The Kombucha is prone to MOLD infestations as well. We’ve heard a lot of people trying to refrigerated SCOBYS and in many cases, the Kombucha becomes tainted with mold.
Remember, the health of your SCOBY also directly effects the taste of your brew. Why would you want to make Kombucha that doesn’t taste good?
So do not store SCOBYs in the fridge. Make a SCOBY hotel and put it in a nice dark place. The SCOBYs will sit nice and dormant and only reactivate when you put in sweet tea or take them out to brew a new batch.
Be Careful when Creating a SCOBY from Store-Bought Kombucha
Back a few years ago, it was possible to easily create Kombucha from organic, store-bought Kombucha. However, this changed when Kombucha was recalled from shelves in 2010 for having too much alcohol in them (a couple percent). Whatever manufacturing process changed occurred, there are reports from people who have tried to create SCOBYs from organic kombucha that it no longer works — you get flat Kombucha or mold grows on it.
It’s still possible, yes, but you need to make absolutely sure of the following:
- Not pasteurized
- Completely unflavored
- No extra stuff added
- shows 100% Kombucha on the label
Some of the organic Kombucha brands add extra stuff to them which (reports say), affect your ability to create a SCOBY with it.
Never Brew Kombucha Without Starter Liquid
Yes it’s possible, however the 1-2 cups of start liquid added to the sweat tea create a hostile environment for unwanted pathogens to grow while the SCOBY starts to ferment the tea. If you don’t add the start liquid, there is a chance the Komucha could become toxic or mold can take root. If you forget to add the starter or for some reason don’t have any, then you can substitute white vinegar.
Never Brew Kombucha from Dehydrated SCOBYs
One of the popular methods of buying SCOBYs are to buy them dehydrated.
I do not recommend this. The SCOBY is a living culture and by dehydrating it, you are essentially messing up the environment the culture is used to growing in (by taking it out of the tea mixture) and seriously damaging the culture in the process.
Quite often, people who buy SCOBYs online end up with a bad SCOBY in the first place and when their Kombucha-making attempt yields a bad-tasting product (or a completely failed one), the feel it’s their own brewing mistakes at fault.
But this is not necessary the case if you’ve been handed a bad SCOBY to begin with. And I feel many (or most) dehydrated SCOBYs are inferior and will yield sub-par Kombucha compared to regular SCOBYs.
Yes, you can still brew kombucha from dehydrated SCOBYs
But the following can (and often happens):
- It can take weeks and several batches before your SCOBY returns to normal activity
- You can end up with a permanently damaged culture that does not make good tasting Kombucha
- Mold often develops in the Kombucha brew because the SCOBY is not working like it should
It’s not worth it. If you are going to take the step and order a Kombucha Scoby online anyways, don’t bother with dehydrated ones. Get a living one that comes packaged with starter liquid.