Once mold has developed on your SCOBY or in your kombucha tea, it is very important to discard the whole batch, including the kombucha SCOBY. Please contact using the Submit a Request button above if mold develops.
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.
Bugs or pests
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.).
Temperature & Ingredients
Check your temperatures. Kombucha needs to brew no cooler than 68ºF and no warmer than 85ºF.
Never increase the batch size faster than instructed. Large batches will overwhelm a baby SCOBY.
Did you use filtered, spring, or distilled water?
High mineral water will dissolve scobys.
Most filters do not remove fluoride, so double check if your water contains fluoride.
pH adjusted, alkaline, or restructured water will kill cultures.
Did you use plain white or organic sugar?
Kombucha can only be activated with white or organic cane sugar.
Honey may be used on later batches, once you have extra SCOBYs.
Did you use black or green tea?
Kombucha can only be activated with plain black tea. Green tea can be used after activation. Read the label to be sure there are no added ingredients.
Other types of tea do not have the food necessary for the growth of the culture.
Once you have extra SCOBYs, you can use up to 75% non-Camellia sinensis tea. Do not use teas with oils, such as Earl Grey.
Did you use plain distilled white vinegar?
Raw vinegar will contaminate your brew, and other vinegars do not have the proper pH. There is no substitute for the plain distilled white vinegar.
Does the kombucha have a breathable cover which has been moistened with vinegar daily during the activation and 1st few batches?
The culture must have air to form a SCOBY.
The vinegar prevents contamination from other sources.
Was the brewing container washed with plain soap and rinsed well?
There is no need to sanitize kombucha equipment. Avoid any bleach or anti-bacterial products.
Is the kombucha brewing in an appropriate environment?
Especially when new, keep other cultures, laundry, compost, garbage bins or pet supplies at least 4 feet away.
Do not place the SCOBY in a bathroom, laundry room or other humid environments.
Did you leave enough time?
The initial batch does need the full 30 days to rehydrate. After that, batches may take anywhere from 7-30 days to brew. Making a batch too soon will not allow the starter tea to drop in pH enough to make a safe brew.