Brewing Kombucha

  • Kombucha Heat Mats are Back




    Heat mats are back, and better than ever!

    As many of our customers know, heat mats have been out of stock for a while. Our original 1-gallon heat mats were made in China, one of the last of our items made outside the US. As practical and affordable as they were, they very often did not last long. In our search for quality American-made heat mats, we found a small company in West Wareham, MA. They not only produce exactly what we are looking for, but do so at a very reasonable price.


    Let us introduce you to the new mats:


    Kombucha Heat Mat, Small - This 12 by 4 inch mat is designed for a 1/2- or 1-gallon glass jar. With the option to add another foot of length to the mat, you can heat an additional vessel when you place the jars on top. Pictured above.


    Kombucha Heat Mat, Large - This 12 by 6 inch mat is designed for a larger brewing vessel, perfect for a 1-gallon crock. With the option to add 1 foot of length, it is perfect for a 2-gallon or 3-gallon crock; with 2 extra feet, it is perfect for a 5-gallon crock.





    Each mat can effectively raise the temperature of your brew by 10°F. By insulating the outside of the mat with a towel, you can increase the temperature by 5-10°F.

    Heating will be essential to your brews this winter, so make sure you've got a heat mat to keep your brew warm!

  • Fruit Flies & Kombucha



    Making kombucha can be a beautiful endeavor. Once you get past the newness of the operation, a new SCOBY forming on the surface is a beautiful sight. There are a few things, unfortunately, that can ruin that sight. One is mold - it's something we have covered quite a bit. The other is fruit flies.


    The number one enemy in the world of unwanted invaders, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is everywhere. In every brew space I’ve ever been I’ve seen these little buggers buzzing around. Even in tightly controlled environments like our SCOBY Lab we see them fly up seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes it seems like they appear out of thin air (I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case). There are tricks to getting rid of them, but even more important is keeping them out of your brew jar.


    What should one use to cover a brew vessel during fermentation?
    Your kombucha wants to breathe fresh oxygen during fermentation - so sealing your jar with a hard lid is out of the question. Therefore we turn to material that is porous enough to let air in, but not porous enough to allow fruit flies inside. Our material of choice is organic cotton. It has a tight weave, that if correctly secured to the jar, will not allow fruit flies to get inside. Other materials with the same weave will also work well. A paper towel, an old t-shirt, or even a coffee filter will work great.




    One material that is commonly used, but should not be, is cheese cloth. Although it is designed for food production, it is too porous. Even if it is layered multiple times. We get emails all the time from new brewers using cheese cloth that have a family of fruit flies hanging out on their culture. When this happens the brew must be scrapped.

    It only takes one


    Once one fruit fly gets in, it's all over



    First, it will quickly lay its eggs which then turn in to maggots


    Full Grown Flys

    After a few days, they will turn into full-grown fruit flies



    The process is quick and before you know it, you have a many flies buzzing around your jar


    But don’t be afraid. With a simple piece of cloth and rubber band, you will be safe from these unwanted but familiar pests!

  • Brew Diagnosis Checklist: What We Need to Help


    Knowing your brew is doing well is vital. That’s why we are here to diagnose any concern you might have. We see hundreds of pictures every week from home brewers all over the world. In order for us to make a sound diagnosis there is a certain set of questions and pictures that will tell us what is going on. Here is a brew diagnosis checklist for you to complete before submitting a query.




    In making sure there is not a problem with a brew we need to see pictures. Luckily, taking and sending pictures is an easy every day activity. The ideal set consists of three images:


    AerialShotKOmbucha1. Aerial shot of entire brew surface showing SCOBY growth, if any.


      CloseUpKombucha2. Close up of surface highlighting any area of concern or general SCOBY growth.



    3. Profile shot of entire brew


    The more pictures the merrier. Don’t feel like these are the only shots you should send if you have the will to send more. In the event that there are still questions after viewing the photos we may request a couple more shots of any area of concern.




    With most inquiries we will ask the same set of questions. The answers will give us a reason for an issue if there is one and will help us guide you to make the necessary changes to your brew set up.


    1. What is the average temperature of the brew while it is fermenting?
    2. How long has it been fermenting?
    3. Where did the original SCOBY (mother, mushroom, culture) come from?
    4. How much starter liquid was used?
    5. What tea/blend and sweetener was used, and what quantity?


    We can almost know everything we need to know just from these five questions. As with pictures though, if there is something specific we need more information on, we will ask.


    As you can see diagnosing a brew is just as easy as brewing. With only a few simple steps we will gladly tell you what’s going on. In 95% of the cases we see, when using a proper set up there is nothing actually going on, just a new brewer needing some confirmation on their brew.

  • Kombucha Brewing: Starting From a Commercial Bottle, pt. 1


    In making kombucha, starting from a commercial bottle of kombucha was not a bad idea 5 years ago but the industry has changed. The day of the small micro-kombucha brewery making unfiltered, raw kombucha is coming to an end.


    These days, many breweries are using additives and filtration processes to help control the fermentation process - a standard practice in the commercial brewing world for established industries like beer and wine. Sure, it can be a relatively inexpensive way to get going, but you may be propagating something you didn't intend. For this reason, it is best to start a batch of kombucha using a fresh, straight-from-the-fermenter SCOBY.


    Think about it like this. A town of 5,000 trying to build a new meeting hall will have a hard time not building more than a room with four walls.


    A town of 5,000,000 will be able to not just build a room with four walls but a whole structure full of rooms, passageways and fun things to do (definitely an amazing kitchen).


    The same can be said for a colony of kombucha microbes coming from a commercial bottle of kombucha (town of 5,000) and a fresh kombucha SCOBY and starter (town of 5,000,000). There is really no comparison. The fresh SCOBY will brew a potent delicious kombucha the first round, in the normal 10-14 days, where as the commercial brew starter may not even form a new SCOBY let alone ferment a perfect batch in 10 days.



    We get photos all the time of peoples brews that have molded after trying to start a batch with a bottle of the popular brands of kombucha.


    Don’t waste your time or ingredients trying to build a colony from a subpar SCOBY. Start with a lab-grown, fermenter-fresh SCOBY and get perfect brews right away. Because let's get real, who wants to wait more than 10 days for their ‘buch?


    Stay tuned for Starting from a Commercial Bottle, pt. 2!

  • Kombucha Tea and Herb Guide


    For brewers new and experienced, use this kombucha tea and herb guide to jump off the tea bag bandwagon and into the world of loose leaf! Loose leaf teas are, across the board, of a much higher quality than those that come in tea bags. And be sure to visit our website to check out our selection of premium brewing teas.


    Kombucha Tea Guide, Kombucha Brooklyn

  • Simple Ways to Keep Your Kombucha Brew Warm


    Warmth is essential to the kombucha process, and there are many simple ways to keep your kombucha brew warm. It will ensure that your brew stays healthy, producing acids that lower the pH to fend off mold. But it will also ensure that you're able to harvest your 'buch without waiting forever.


    The ideal brewing temperature for kombucha is between 70 and 80 degrees. Lower than that range, you are running the risk of allowing mold to form. Higher than that range, you might get finished 'buch more quickly but it will also potentially become vinegar more quickly.


    Kombucha Warmth Kombucha Brooklyn


    It's best to find places in your home that are naturally producing or retaining heat. Beyond that, you can dress up your brew with heat mats, cooler-incubators and clothes to your heart's content. You could even build a box special for fermenting. Any combination of these methods will do wonders for your 'buch and keep you from pulling your hair out in these cool winter months.


    These are just a few suggestions and you are encouraged to branch out and think for yourself based on your home environment. If all else fails, just take it to bed. I won't judge you.


    Happy brewing!


    For heat mats and other kombucha brewing accessories, click here.

  • Kombucha and Mold: What You Need To Know


    SCOBY or Io? Kombucha Brooklyn SCOBY? Or Io, moon of Jupiter?


    Think back to the first time you tasted kombucha. I remember my first bottle, back in 2004. I was visiting a food co-op with a good friend of mine (who I can credit with many of my bizarre but healthy eating habits). He had purchased a bottle and gave me a taste; it was a berry and ginger brew, and it truly was love at first sip. The stuff was effervescent, packed full of ginger intensity and luscious fruitiness. Immediately, I wanted to know more. Many questions arose in my head - What the heck is this stuff? What's this strange mass floating around in the bottle? Why does it smell like vinegar? It says it's probiotic, that's nice, but how is it made? Little did I know at the time that the next decade of my life would be spent in intimate collaboration with this, my new favorite "fizzy lifting drink."


    A few days later, I bought my own bottle, loved it again, and started talking to friends about this strange new beverage. A chef pal of mine mentioned that some coworkers of his had stashed culture to make kombucha in a refrigerator at his restaurant. I jumped at the opportunity to start making it. When he brought the cultures home, they were pretty off-putting - stored in a plastic container, looking like some sort of decaying aquatic animal; smelling like apple cider vinegar, I was skeptical of the possibility of ending up with something safe and palatable.


    SCOBY aesthetics

    The thing that turns most people off about kombucha, if they can get used to the vinegary taste, is its appearance. There are inevitably going to be stringy bits of yeast and clumps of SCOBY in a store-bought bottle. In a raw, living beverage that's completely normal. One of the reasons kombucha is so good for us is due to the probiotic qualities that must be preserved; as a result of not being pasteurized, the culture will continue to proliferate, given the right conditions (warmth), inside a closed bottle. It is this aspect of bottling that caused issues in 2010 when kombucha everywhere was pulled off the shelves. As a result of FDA tests, it was discovered that bottled kombucha from many producers had exceeded the 0.5% ABV limit.


    And during brewing there's a whole other aesthetic that is the growth and proliferation of the SCOBY in the brew jar, on top of the tea. Once you've seen kombucha brewing, you can understand that there's definitely a reason that grandmothers of old were said to keep the culture out of sight of children, lest they be reticent to drink the healthful beverage. I always describe it lovingly - imagine a jellyfish crossed with a mudskipper. Awwww.


    Stringy yeast strands adorning the underside of a SCOBY Kombucha Brooklyn SCOBY letting its hair down (yeast)

    Things you'll see

    You'll be seeing some anomalous things and inevitably start to wonder what's going on. Most shock that new brewers have is at the brown blobs that form in a kombucha brew, which are simply coagulated yeast cells. Often, you'll notice one of these blobs forming just under the surface of your brew, at the edge of the jar. Just think of it as your resident blob!


    Your SCOBY might grow tendrils (Cthulu fhtagn!), which are also yeast, that will hang down into your brewing liquid. Don't be troubled either if you see a big brown spot in the middle of your SCOBY, sometimes cellulose (which makes up the SCOBY) will be thinner in some places, especially when your mother SCOBY floats at the top of the brew jar, and new SCOBY grows around her.


    If your brew is moldy, it is easy to tell. There will be dry, fuzzy spots that will usually grow in concentric rings. There is a wide possibility for the color of the mold, generally, it could be white, blue, black, green etc.


    Mold / Not Mold Kombucha Brooklyn

    Ways to steer clear of mold

    There are very simple ways to keep kombucha and mold separate:

    • Don't skimp on ingredients. Use at least 1 cup of sugar per gallon and 12 grams of actual tea per gallon (white, green, black, oolong or puerh).
    • Don't brew oily herbs with your tea - the volatile oil content of herbs will affect your brew and can lead to mold. Since oil floats in water, and your SCOBY wants to float as well, this can effectively keep your brew from breathing and producing beneficial acids that lower pH and thus keep mold at bay. If you want to use herbs in your kombucha, use actual tea along with it - about 12 grams per gallon.
    • Keep your brew in a warm place. Warm brewing temperatures not only result in your kombucha brewing more quickly, but will make sure your culture can respire and create the acids that keep mold at bay. Cold temperatures are often the culprit with many mold issues.
    • Keep your brew away from cigarette smoke.
    • Always use already-brewed kombucha or vinegar for your starter (required for every brew). For a gallon, 12 ounces of kombucha or 3 TBSP of distilled vinegar are two easy starters you can use.
    • A dry SCOBY will become a moldy SCOBY. Keep your culture in a sealed container if you aren't going to be brewing for awhile, rather than just leaving it in the brew jar to starve - doesn't your mother deserve better?


     If you have mold

    • Don't drink it, discard the culture. Weep and plead with another friendly brewer to give you another culture or to give you some 'buch to drink while you are restarting.
    • Add strange items and take photographs, share with friends or with us on our Facebook 'Buch Brewer's Group.
    • Remember that it's always important to keep a backup SCOBY for just such an occasion. Once you start brewing, put some of the culture in the fridge, submerged in kombucha, to save you from having to order another one if your brew goes south.
    • Don't freak out. Don't stop brewing.


    If you have any questions or want to send photos of your possibly moldy brew, post them to our Facebook page or send them to Happy brewing!

  • Black Tea Kombucha


    Bi Luo High Grade


    Think back to your first memories of tea. What types of images are elicited? For me, I picture a tea bag, being gingerly plunged up and down in a steaming cup of dark red or black liquid. This will have assuredly been a black tea - English breakfast, Lipton, Earl Gray - the ubiquitous facets of Western tea consumption.


    Black or Red?


    But if you’re like most Westerners, the connotation of “black tea” doesn’t really allow for the luxurious, complex experience that fine teas can elicit. More often, we’re conditioned to see black tea as common and unvarying - perhaps simply due to the title. Black is black, after all; monodimensional, uninteresting. In China, however, this variety of fully oxidized leaf (called hong cha or "red tea") contains a diverse array of qualities.


    So named because of the color of the tea’s liquor, the visual variance in the color red bring about an alluring, enigmatic quality that evokes passion, depth and complexity. These descriptors reveal the true nature of a black (red) tea, and the energy felt from these teas I would consider grounding, earnest and powerful.


    There's something about the dark, smooth, pure and strong character of these teas that is simply divine, convincing, and transcendent. Though some characteristics are shared across the board, for example, in teas from China and India, many of the factors that affect the flavor of these teas simply cannot be replicated outside of certain regions, whether it be based on soil, climate, genetics or processing. Today, I'll focus on Chinese black teas.



    Black, or red tea - A fully oxidized tea that generally has dark brown or black leaves. “Black” is a very general way to describe a tea, and in the same way that there are many shades of every color, these teas are just as varied.


    Keemun Gong Fu Kombucha Brooklyn Keemun Gong Fu

    Though not always the case with black teas, they can have an inherent astringency, or bitterness, that can be reduced with the addition of milk and/or sugar (to the chagrin of its producers). Not all black teas will take to milk and sugar successfully, though this is the most popular way to serve black tea in the West, whereas in Asia, if drinking black tea, plain is the most common fashion.


    Black teas are better suited for long term storage than green or oolong teas, and as such were more popular in the West during the early history of European/Asian tea trade.


    Chinese Black Tea


    The archetypal nature of black tea in the West belies the fact that the style's history doesn't seem to be present until being developed in plantations during the Ming dynasty (which ended in 1644). Surprising to me as a lover of black tea, this is not a popularly consumed style among even those who produce it - in China, black tea makes up only about 1/20th of the nation's total tea production - green tea, by far, makes up most of this harvest.


    Black teas can't be said, generally speaking, to contain more caffeine than, say, greens; while caffeine is largely sequestered in young leaves, with black teas there's not a polarizing distinction across the category that would suggest a more highly-caffeinated brew. It's not uncommon to find buds among the leaves, often providing beautiful golden contrast to the dark black or red leaves. The leaves of the sinensis varietal are usually small, with minor variations in shape, especially compared to the black teas of India’s Assam region (although related). Special varietals exist even within this Latin sinensis distinction, as is the case with the well-known Keemun.


    Processing the Leaves



    Raw 1992 Pu-erh, Kombucha Brooklyn Raw 1992 Pu-erh


    A side-note on Pu-erh tea:  Generally speaking, calling a Pu-erh a "black tea" may be semi-accurate but is not generally discussed as part of this category. Now often intentionally aged or simulated-aged, I like to look at Pu-erh tea as leaves that are on a (potentially) very long road to becoming a black tea, or fully oxidized.


    To read more about Pu-erh tea, check out the blog post here.







    Withering is the first step the leaves undergo after being carefully plucked. This process softens the leaves so that they are more malleable and the next step, rolling, is made easier as a result. This action stimulates the oxidizing enzymes that turn the green, withered leaves into a fully oxidized tea with leaves of black, brown, gold, orange and red.


    Next, oxidation is stimulated by covering the leaves with a damp cloth for up to half a day. Compared to oxidation of Indian black tea, this process creates a more mild and less astringent tea. There isn't really a set-in-stone methodology, as all variables are taken into account by the tea handler to produce a fine tea that is the result of much skill and experience. It is the prerogative of the tea artist to elicit fine flavor that showcases the terroir as well as his own skill in shaping the final product.


    Finally, the leaves are dried which slows oxidation. There are various methods used to dry the leaves, but warmth and heat are paramount at this stage to reduce the presence of residual moisture, improving stability.


    Chinese Black Tea Varieties


    The major black teas of China can be divided into a few major types. A short list includes Keemun, Yunnan and Lapsang Souchong. Each has its own characteristic growing region, processing methods and of course, flavor.




    Considered the birthplace of the tea species, Yunnan province in China has a surprisingly short history in making black tea. Since that start in 1939, however, it has become the main black tea producing region in China. Yunnan black tea has soft, lightly-twisted leaves that are broad and can be infused many times and yields a woody, dried apricot, leather and earthy flavor that has a strong finish. Gold-orange buds (the youngest part of a tea plant) are a major part of this tea's leaves and the appearance and flavor of tobacco and pepper is unmistakeable; tiny hairs impart a lingering tenacity on the palate. Teas from the Yunnan region are some of my absolute favorites.


    KBBK black tea




    Keemun tea is made from the small-leafed tea plant that results in a tea that is lightly sweet, with notes of cocoa and a clean and focused maltiness with a strong fruity characteristic - surprisingly fruity. The inherent sweetness of this tea is a quality I adore in teas, tending to weaken my knees, elicit wistful daydreams and strike up wordless conversations with the leaves. It is the only of the red teas that is on China's top-10 list of favorite teas.


    Lapsang Souchong


    The unique Lapsang Souchong is a special black tea that is processed with a step that contributes pine smoke to the tea -  the final drying of the tea is done above smoldering pine embers. It should be noted that the smoky characteristic is not subtle. It can often be sharp in smokiness but is clean and always convincing. While this tea will make excellent kombucha, I find the smokiness to be a little overbearing so will usually "cut" it with another, unsmoked, tea. I've had great success with Lapsang-chamomile kombucha, as well.


    'Buching with Black Teas


    Not to be overlooked is the quality of kombucha that can be achieved through use of the many varieties of black tea. Flavors that can be expected vary widely - malted barley, toffee, caramel, biscuits, coconut, to name a few - and are unique to each tea, but really across the board the stand-out flavor I find that is elicited in black teas is that of apples.


    SCOBYs are absolutely voracious for black tea, and it shows in explosive growth and a reliably quick ferment. Chinese hongcha is just the start of our exploration of brewing with black tea kombucha. Another of the world's major black tea production regions is India, whose abundance of variety is the topic of a future entry.


    Above all, 'buch brewers, remember that variety is the spice of 'buch, and you need not look to post-fermentation flavoring to make spectacular kombucha! Don't feel pinned down to any specific dogma regarding teas, especially the sleeping giant of black teas - varied and complex - which may have previously been hiding behind the Liptons and English Breakfasts of the world. Look around, sip often, and brew constantly - and don't forget to have fun!


    Check out other blog entries about tea here!
    For fine black teas and many others, look here to see what fine teas are available from Kombucha Brooklyn!


  • Home Brewing Kombucha: Think Outside the Box


    There's a lot of focus these days on bottle flavoring and carbonating of kombucha. Especially for those interested in home brewing kombucha, the simple reality is that most people got their start in 'buch through trying store-bought kombucha, making this focus understandable.


    The issue I'd like to address is the effect RTD (ready-to-drink) kombucha has on home brewing efforts.

    Pour KBBK 

    Carbonation - Nice, but necessary?


    One resounding effect the RTD industry has had on nascent home brewers has been the viewpoint that kombucha is an effervescent beverage. I can't disagree that kombucha is highly desirable and refreshing as an effervescent beverage.


    But does it have to be?


    The answer is no. Un-carbonated kombucha is just as much kombucha as is carbonated 'buch. Just like un-carbonated water is still water, the carbonated counterpart still tastes fine and is refreshing.


    Conversely, think about wine. The majority of wine available is not effervescent at all, but does that mean that champagne isn't wine?


    My point is this - as a home brewer, your only responsibility is to yourself, to produce kombucha that you enjoy. To obtain an effervescent kombucha is a fun, often variable process, and a kind of seal of success, but is not necessary. You can flavor kombuchas based on this consideration; one of my favorites is mulled kombucha.


    Is it more important to have good flavor or good carbonation?


    In home brewing I try to put the greatest emphasis on flavor and let carbonation be a lesser concern, at least for home bottling. People with a keg and CO2 system can achieve carbonation very quickly.


    We've all been there before. You are craving a tasty, flavorful kombucha (these are not mutually exclusive) so you head to the RTD aisle at the grocery store. You choose a bottle and go along on your way. Maybe it's too sweet, or perhaps too sour. It might even seem watered down. But hey! It's definitely carbonated.

    The flavor should be spot-on, even if the carbonation isn't.


    And it's clear enough RTD kombucha has hardly stepped beyond the constant flavor additions that make kombucha taste exactly like this or that fruit, herb or familiar beverage. Not to say these can't be delicious - but I'm pretty sure I know what, say, a beet tastes like, not to mention mangoes, or blueberries, ginger, etc. These are tried and true kombuchas that are classics and will always be delicious. We, as home brewers, can choose to accept or reject that same path and forge into uncharted territory.


    What makes 'buch 'buch?


    Tea is the heart and soul of kombucha, KBBK Tea is the heart and soul of kombucha


    Kombucha is based on tea. Not on fruits, vegetables, spices etc. So why cover up your beautiful kombucha with other stuff that makes it taste like something else? Not that it can't be fun, or that it's not tasty. But we have the opportunity to create something totally unique and special.


    Set aside some of your brewing time, vessels, ingredients, etc. to resisting the emulation of any drink you've ever had before. Use the time to explore what makes 'buch interesting, rather than what makes 'buch taste familiar.


    Sugar, water, culture, tea, and time.


    The most important, simplest way to flavor your kombucha is with tea. It's not an optional ingredient. We'd be ignorant if we said we were familiar with, or even heard of all of the amazing varieties of tea that are available to us.

    However, one of the most entertaining aspects of brewing is the use of combinations of herbs and spices, infused and fermented at the same time as the tea.


    More thoughts on home brewing


    Kombucha has only relatively recently become a retail product, and the real legacy of kombucha still remains inside the home. It's where cultures proliferate and change. They absorb our intent, our energy, our hand-selected ingredients. In home brewing, nothing is lost or forgotten, and everything is exactly as it should be, for better or worse.

    Your home-brewed kombucha has a much stronger microbiotic profile and robust nutritional makeup from not having been filtered, piped through machinery, force carbonated and otherwise stabilized to maintain promised shelf-life and alcohol content.


    So please, don't feel required to emulate the RTD sector or to assess your own success in comparing your home brew to others'. Look to the tea, coordinate your steep, prioritize flavor, and success will find you.

  • Fresh SCOBY vs Dehydrated SCOBY, a Brewer's Comparison

    If you're a brewer or kombucha follower, you may have heard about reanimating a dried SCOBY from dormancy to start a new brew. I've been curious, and having seen some dehydrated cultures available on the internet, I wanted to try it out. I bought a retail dehydrated SCOBY online. Thinking about woolly mammoths and Jurassic Park, I got excited to see if it would work.


    Dehydrated SCOBY, left; KBBK SCOBY, right


    The real question, I later discovered, was whether or not it would work for me - there are definitely some culture sources on the web that base their business around the sale of dehydrated SCOBYs - more power to them - but how easy or likely is it to resurrect a SCOBY from dormancy?


    The first KBBK Home Brew Kit, Kombucha Brooklyn The first KBBK Home Brew Kit


    Not being a stranger to dried SCOBY - I've made leather (edible and non-) as well as dehydrated SCOBY snacks (candies) before - I was somewhat tickled to fine a wafer-thin culture when it arrived in the mail. It was by no means substantial, but I know it doesn't take much to get a culture to take hold. Our first home brew kits came with a test-tube-sized SCOBY - granted, for a 32-oz brew - but it was fresh, not dried.


    Brewing from a dehydrated SCOBY - how long will it take?


    A week... A couple of weeks...? A month? If you're able to get a new, fresh SCOBY from this process, then you're ready to begin your actual brew. Our instructions indicated this should be ready to begin 30 days after starting, shown in the image below.


    Just the beginning for this desert SCOBY... Just the beginning for this desert SCOBY...
    Fresh vs. dry SCOBY, day 1 Fresh SCOBY, left; vs. dry SCOBY, right, day 1

    Nothing's... happening...


    I wasn't so lucky. Six weeks into the process, following instructions with the dehydrated SCOBY that I received (I'll call him Dehydro), I still saw no culture growth whatsoever. Keep in mind, this was after a one-month rehydration period and another two weeks waiting for a fresh culture to grow on top of the sweet tea.


    Fresh vs dehydrated SCOBY Kombucha Brooklyn Fresh culture, left, and dehydrated culture, right, after one week


    At the one week mark, I didn't expect to see a significant amount of growth from the dehydrated SCOBY. You can see on the left the KBBK SCOBY going strong with an inch or so of new growth after just a week. Our dehydrated friend still showed no signs of growth. Hang in there, little buddy.


    KBBK SCOBY, left and dehydrated SCOBY, right, after 5 weeks Kombucha Brooklyn KBBK SCOBY, left and dehydrated SCOBY, right, after 7 weeks

    After 7 weeks of "brewing" the two side-by-side, there was still no growth whatsoever from the dehydrated culture. I decided to let the fresh SCOBY continue growing.


    Had I harvested the KBBK SCOBY's kombucha and reset the brew after each week, I'd have had well over two gallons of kombucha. Still no dice from our little desert friend - though, there was another step to take before I could actually start brewing with Dehydro.


    Actually starting the brew, 5 weeks after receiving Dehydro, Kombucha Brooklyn Starting the brew, 7 weeks after receiving Dehydro


    The instructions indicated for me to check the pH after 30 days. I did (albeit far after 30 days - though I don't see why a new culture wouldn't start growing in the sweet tea), and it was at about 3.2. However, I did add 1/2 cup (!) of vinegar, as per the instructions at the start. In 2-3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar is going to drop the pH drastically. So, I surmise the pH was that low from the start since I already added so much white vinegar.


    Moving on, I then brewed more tea and sugar, added another 1/2 cup of vinegar, threw in the semi-rehydrated Dehydro, covered the jar, and prepared to wait again for a new culture to form atop the sweet tea (though very sour as well, with so much vinegar). I crossed my fingers for another few days, weeks, also months...


    Flash forward... to 12 weeks


    Fresh KBBK SCOBY, left, dehydrated SCOBY results, right, Kombucha Brooklyn Fresh KBBK SCOBY, left, dehydrated SCOBY, right (12 weeks)


    SCOBY Rancher snacks, Kombucha Brooklyn SCOBY Rancher snacks

    The KBBK SCOBY has pretty much overgrown itself in the brew jar (this is what it looks like when you don't harvest your kombucha - the SCOBY keeps growing and fills up the jar). That's a good way to make a ton of culture relatively easily - think SCOBY snacks and other kombucha foods.



    Hoping for a Halloween miracle


    Here I am, on All Hallows' Eve, twelve weeks from when I started to try to resurrect Dehydro on the 4th of August. In a mix of surprise and disappointment, I'm hoping the next full moon might reanimate Dehydro. I seem to have failed at playing Dr. Herbert West, at least for this go around...


    Stick with fresh cultures. Especially if you're new to brewing, and even moreso if you want to start a brew and drink 'buch before a few months have passed.

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