Kombucha Troubleshooting FAQ

If you are activating/rehydrating your kombucha scoby and have questions or concerns, click here for comprehensive troubleshooting advice for scoby activation.

Click here for general Kombucha FAQ.


Q. Where can I view the instructions for making kombucha?

A. After you've picked up a kombucha culture for sale at Cultures for Health, click here to view the kombucha instructions.


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

A. For the initial activation batch using a dehydrated culture, there may be no visible signs of culturing. The best way to check on the progress of your brew is to test aroma and flavor. However, you may notice further signs of fermentation:

  • The liquid lightens in color and turns cloudy
  • A haze or baby scoby forms on top of the liquid
  • The aroma and flavor are more vinegary and less sweet.


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. The best way to check on the progress of your brew is to test aroma and flavor. As it cultures, the kombucha should develop a rich, vinegary flavor and a pleasant but sour aroma. Click here for troubleshooting information specific to activating a dehydrated kombucha scoby.



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 kombucha if desired.


Q. My SCOBY 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, 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.


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.


Q. One of my kombucha cultures has a hole in it or is only a piece because I had to separate it from the 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. We do recommend using a culture that is at least 3 inches in diameter.


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

A. Once mold has developed, it is very important to discard the whole batch, including the kombucha scoby. Please contact Customer Support if mold develops.


download our kombucha guide and recipe book


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

A. A black scoby is a sign of a kombucha culture that has been contaminated or is worn out. It takes a long time and many batches before a scoby is worn out. 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. If your kombucha culture turns black, it should be discarded or composted.


Q. Help! My culture has crawly things in it!

A. Best practice due to the ick factor is to toss it. However, if there are only a few, it's probably ok to get rid of what you see, and then rinse well with organic distilled white vinegar before culturing. If there are many little critters, or the few critters have burrowed down into the scoby, it's best to toss it. If it totally grosses you out, toss it to be safe! To prevent pests, always cover the fermenting vessel with some kind of lid. A clean cotton cloth or coffee filter secured tightly with a rubber band is enough to keep flies out. Always keep 4 feet of distance from contaminant sources (garbage, compost, cat box, house plants, etc.).