Kombucha Scoby. All you need to know

Mother to a scoby? All your questions answered.

Brewing kombucha is a labour of love. If you’re new to the brew it can be tricky to know whether you’ve got a healthy scoby and kombucha culture.

Here are all your questions answered by Bertel Haugen, Rude Health’s Head of Product Development & Kombucha Guru.

“Just remember, your kombucha culture is incredibly robust. The acidic environment created by the bacteria ensures that if conditions are right then no harmful bacteria can survive.

It’s almost impossible to kill a scoby. But here are a few troubleshooting tips and tricks to keep your mind at ease.”

– Bertel Haugen

If you’ve not yet started to brew your own kombucha.

My scoby looks weird:

When you buy a scoby from a provider like happy kombucha it is usually a perfectly formed round off white disk. That’s because it has been produced to look good. However when you start brewing yourself, especially using the continuous brew method, you will hardly ever get perfectly formed scobys. They end up looking like something kept in a jar on a Victorian doctors shelf. Don’t worry, it’s not a scoby beauty contest. It’s gonna get ugly.

Just remember that pretty much any look is probably fine.

The only time to be worried is if there is any mould growth. If you see mould, throw the whole thing out (scoby and liquid), give your vessel a good clean and start again.

If you keep getting mouldy scobys then you need to go back to square one. Check that you are using the right measurements, follow the recipe exactly. The main reason mould develops is if your culture isn’t sour enough. Or if you are not giving enough food for the scoby (sugar and tea). Don’t try to use alternative teas or sugars, your scoby won’t survive and thrive.


Is it okay if my scoby has sunk?

Yes, that’s completely normal.


Is it okay if my scoby is really bubbly looking?

Yes, that’s absolutely fine.


My scoby has brown strands hanging off it. What's wrong?

Nothing’s wrong, that’s completely normal.


A new scoby is forming, but it's really thin. Is that okay?

Yes, that’s okay.


My kombucha isn’t getting fizzy

  1. Make sure your kombucha is still a bit sweet when bottling, if it’s too sour it will take ages to fizz up
  2. Try adding chopped up pieces of fresh ginger in your bottles, ginger is very good at building fizz. Other fruit like pineapple and raspberries
  3. Fill your bottles right up.. don’t leave too much space at the top.
  4. Check that the bottles are airtight. Swingstoppers are the best.
  5. Be patient, it might just take a little longer to build fizz. Don’t worry it will happen.
  6. Stop checking or burping your bottles too much. Be patient.
  7. Sometimes it helps to give your brewing vessel a gentle stir before taking kombucha out for bottling. Yeast usually hangs out at the bottom of the jar so this ensures you get some in your bottles. Yeast is what makes your kombucha get fizzy.

Can I use sugar alternatives?

Kombucha is a living drink made with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), therefore it has to be treated like any living thing. With care. The bacteria and yeast like to be in a warm, acidic environment, and they need two things to flourish and do their magic. Tea and sugar. It needs to be real tea (black or green) and real sugar. No herbal tea, rooibos or other tea alternative works. And the same goes for sugar. The yeast can only survive when you feed it real sugar. The purer, the better. So, don’t feed your SCOBY coconut sugar or stevia because it won’t thrive, in fact it will starve bacteria and yeast.


Learn how to make your own kombucha.

You’re in rude health when...you’re effervescent. You’re mother to a scoby. You like big booch and you cannot lie.