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How to Brew Kombucha : A day by day Analysis

How to Brew Kombucha : A day by day Analysis

Day 1:

To the right is my fresh brew! The tea and sugar has steeped and dissolved, and we have added the culture (floating in the background). We will be following it over the next couple days to see how a typical kombucha brew progresses.   As your brew ferments, you will notice changes in the nute (nutritional starter). Most notably will be the formation of the new "baby SCOBY on the surface. This process begins in most brews between twenty-four and seventy-two hours.   Small white patches will begin to form on the surface of the liquid, independent of the SCOBY you put in there. The first few days are an uneasy time for new brewers, and the new growth of SCOBY is often misconstrued as mold. For more info about mold, check here at our Brew FAQ.  

Day 2:

We are still at the dawn of our ferment and must be patient. My starter SCOBY has floated back up which is totally OK ( so is a sunken SCOBY). It is very important during these early stages not to disturb or otherwise agitate the kombucha; one small wave can sink new formations, which slows the primary acidification process and increases the risk of mold.   At this point you may have some questions or just want to know more on how to brew kombucha. What better way to learn-and-brew than dive into a good read? See our selection of brewing books here.   I highly suggest for beginners our company's co-founder written book Kombucha! It's where a good chunk of this blog's body comes from. And for people who would like to expand their know-how on all other things fermented, I suggest The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz; a Michael Pollan / Harold McGee scientific break-down on all that bubbles. True Brews by Emma Christensen, on the other hand, is a beautifully laid out guide on how to make and tastily enhance all that bubbles: cider, soda pop, beer, wine, sake, soda, mead, kefir, kombucha, and fruit wines.    

Days 3-4:

SCOBY formation: As the culture matures, these spots of new growth will become thicker and wider, eventually joining together and becoming one whole party. Wheee! SCOBY Party! Give your brew a sniff - it is important to know the smells as well as the sights of your brew as it transforms.


Day 5:

 See KBBK SCOBY-power in action! that's a lot of growth in just five days. Your brew may not be here just yet, so you may need to give it an extra day or two. So, it has formed it's signature celluloid patty, the SCOBY. If you do not see anything resembling the SCOBY in these pictures, you may be in trouble - ambient temperature could be too low and is slowing the culture's metabolism, or other brewing issues may have arisen. If you see dark patches or strange tentacle looking formations such as in the inset picture above, no need for alarm. This is just spent yeast, a natural bi-product of the fermentation process.  See our Brew FAQ for more info. Again, keep your brew covered! From the pictures it may seem that this is an open-air ferment, but it is just for visual reference.


Day 6:

Taste your Brew: When the new baby SCOBY has spread across the entire surface of your brew and started to thicken, you should give your 'buch a taste. This will usually be in the three- to six-day range but can take longer depending on the strength of your culture, how long you have been brewing in that location, the type of tea and sugar used, and the temperature. Lots of changes have already occurred in your brew at this point and the flavor will give you an idea of how much longer you will want to brew your ferment. Just make sure that if you dip something into your 'buch, it is clean. As long as your brew is healthy and progressing normally, it's always safe to drink from the nute stage all the way through to vinegar. Some ideas on how to get a sip:
  • Stick a straw under the surface of the SCOBY
  • Use a clean shot glass to gently push the SCOBY down and scoop a little from the surface
  • Use a Thief! These are the professional brewers sampler. (Available here)
A pH indicator measures the activity of hydrogen ions in a solution. The more free-floating hydrogen ions there are, the lower pH will be, indicating a higher acid profile. For the kombrewer with pH indicator strips, your buch will be ready on the sweet side at a pH of 3.1 and on the sour side at a pH of 2.7.    

Days 7-9:

Behold, the magic of fermentation! You have just learned how to make kombucha. Millions of microorganisms in the SCOBY are happily feeding off of sugars and tea nutrients, breaking down alcohols, and multiplying. This pro-biotic adventure has come full circle. 

Unfortunately due to an accident, the jar broke before I could take a side shot. The second photo above is from a different brew, but is a similar and healthy SCOBY.

When to bottle: Your brew, although young, is complete. Most one-gallon brews kept around 78ºF will have a nice balance of sweet and sour flavors at nine days. I like to bottle at about seven days in my kitchen when there is a little more sweetness than I would want to drink. This ensures that there will be enough sugar to produce effervescence in secondary fermentation after bottling. If you haven't yet picked up bottling equipment, I highly suggest our Pro-Bottler Package, it's six 32oz Amber Growlers, a brewers must-have Auto-siphon, and a mixed flavor pack with enough goodies to flavor all six of those Growlers.

Whether you bottle your 'buch for some extra bubble or just pour out a cup straight-up, it's time to enjoy the pro-biotic and fizzy goodness that is home-brew kombucha. Feel it's not complete without a snazzy Kombucha Brooklyn Highball glass? Go ahead and deck out your glassware collection. Happy Brewing! Will

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  • Eric
Comments 80
  • Linda A. Weisser
    Linda A. Weisser

    Is there a way this can be posted on Facebook? As I would like to :Share" this with all my friends & families on FB. For I so believe in Kombucha!
    Linda A. W.


    Also wondering what kind of tea you used.

  • diane bolt
    diane bolt

    mine is looking but how can I get that same color as yours ? is it diff color teas?> I use green tea,orange pekoe . organic black, would like to have balance of color>> mine tastes good just looking for lighter color
    thank you for your help

  • C.J,

    I just got a start of Kombucha while waiting to start my first batch do i keep it refrigerated?

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Secondary relies on sugar and a warm environment as much as primary fermentation. Think about the sugar content of your flavorings – If your flavoring is quite low in sugar maybe add a bit of simple syrup to feed the yeast properly. If the sugar content is ok, double check the bottles seal is still airtight (submerge empty underwater) and that the temperature you are fermenting at is around mid seventies. Otherwise, write down how long you are letting it sit (I suggest 3 days) out at temperature, and see how it fizzes, you may need to let it sit a little longer out.

    Be careful! this is now a pressurized container and may explode. A great low-cost way to keep an eye on things is to pour some of the kombucha you are bottling into a water bottle and keep them side by side – as the pressure builds, the water bottle will harden and give you an idea of whats going on inside the glass.

  • Jessie Newburn
    Jessie Newburn

    When I started brewing ‘buch, I’d get some lovely fizz in my second fermentation. I’m about six months into brewing and the fizz has been all but gone these last couple/few months. Any tips?

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi Michelle,
    Totally fine – Sometimes the culture takes a bit longer to get up to speed, especially if cold is a factor. You really want to try and keep that brew in the 70ºF-78ºF or 21ºC – 25ºC range. Any lower, and the brew ferments so slow that it gives plenty of time for mold and other risks to take hold. You can keep it on top of your fridge, in the oven with just the light on, or wrap it up in a scarf while it ferments – or grab a heat mat here:

    Happy to hear you are getting a kick out of the book! Let us know how it goes – If you are at the “day 5 mark” do not worry, you are well on your way to a more matured, and complex kombucha :)


  • Michelle

    Hi, my Kombucha is taking much longer to ferment is that ok? I am on day 9 and am sitting around your day 5 mark! I live in Perth, Australia so I am just coming into winter. I am a first time brewer so am little nervous I will get it wrong.
    I love your book also and can’t wait to try all the awesome recipes :)

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi there! The tea I used was our Tieguanyin High Grade Oolong Tea. The flavor is as amazing as the color.

    And Linda, yes definitely! There should be a set of link buttons between the post and the comments, otherwise you can always copy and paste the URL to your FB post, let it load then delete the text – I find it looks nicer that way.

    Let me know if you all have any other questions!

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi Lena,
    My best suggestion would be to dilute after secondary fermentation – this way your culture’s health (which depends on a certain acid / nutrient / sugar / water ratio) will be unaffected.


  • Lena

    Hello, I am a newbie in home brewing and am just beginning to start my culture! I have a question about secondary fermentation —
    I like my kombucha pretty diluted, is it possible to dilute it before secondary fermentation? Thanks so much!

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi Felicia,
    Yes unfortnuately you’ll need to chuck your batch and start again.
    Fruit flies are pesky little things! Make sure your brew is covered with a cloth no thinner than a cotton T-shirt knit, and is properly rubber banded to the rim so that no flies can sneak in!

  • Felicia

    Help! My brew is surrounded by fruit flies! Do I ditch the whole batch, including the new baby SCOBY?

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi C.J., If you are not brewing right away with your kombucha culture, it is best to keep it in the fridge.

  • crs

    “A kombucha SCOBY (also known as a starter culture, mother, mushroom, etc.) is a necessary component if you wish to make kombucha tea. There are generally three ways to obtain a SCOBY;
    Get one from an acquaintance,
    Purchase one from a reputable source or
    Grow a scoby from a bottle of raw kombucha tea.”
    There appears to be a fourth way: fill an insulated mug with tea and a little lemon; bring to school and lose there for about three months; find in a corner of an overheated classroom; open to discover a gelatinous mass which resembles a jellyfish; set free…
    This method is unlikely to produce kombucha tea but there could be a feral SCOBY on the loose. Hope it’s not angry.

  • Greg Lott
    Greg Lott

    The last 2 brews the jar has been filled with what I assume is yeast strands. However the jar is filled with them from bottom to top, and the brew doesn’t smell right so I dumped it down the drain. I’ve had several successful brews before these but these have me stumped. I use English breakfast tea, white cane sugar, a cup of old brew, plus the scoby.

  • Chris

    Hi Sandra, fruit flies outside your brew jar are normal. Your ‘buch will be ready when it tastes good to you, or generally when there’s a balance of sweetness and acidity. Happy brewing!

  • Sandra

    I also had a question about fruit flies I bought the kombusha Brooklyn starter kit I’ve seen fruit flies on it mostly everyday but I have it covered with the cloth it comes with is there any way my bush is safe to drink its suppose to be ready today :( ??

  • William Donnelly
    William Donnelly

    Hi there Tom,
    Here is our recent blog on carbonation and secondary fermentation! Thanks for writing in.


  • ria

    Hi, I am doing my first batch. It has been about nine days and my scoby hovers at the bottom and it looks like stagnant on top.. is that normal or have I done something wrong??

  • Chris

    Hi Marissa, keep the liquid at the widest part of the jar you’re brewing in. Usually that’s right below the neck, if your vessel has one. Happy brewing!

  • Marissa M
    Marissa M

    Hi! I just started my very first kombucha brew today, but I’m worried I filled the jar too full. There’s a couple inches at the tippy top, but not much more. Should I take out some of the liquid to allow room? Would I need to add more sugar or tea to make up for the loss? Or would it disturb the process too much? (It’s been in the jar for less than 24 hours). Thank you for your help!

  • Dawne

    I am on my seond brew of 3 gallons and just bottled it. I am in Chicago, IL and the temp has been so low/dry, that I let it go a few days more than my first brew, which I might add was suprisingly perfect. I fear that I let my second brew ferment too long as it is very “sassy”, acidic tasting.
    The first brew was the same exact recipe, but less ferm time, but less acidic “sassy tasting”.
    My question is – DOES A BREW, WHILE FERMENTING (THE SCOBY AND SWEET TEA all alone, no infusions before bottleling) GET MORE ACIDIC AS IT SITS, OR DOES IT GET MORE BASIC AS TIME PASSES?". I tested this second brew with pH strips and it was ~ > 3.5.
    Unfortunately, I did not have the pH strips at the time of my first brew being “done”, and go figure, it came out better and I did not test it with strips, just my taste buds, as scared as I was.

    So, does longer ferm = higher pH or lower pH?

  • Keri

    i am growing a scoby from a bottle of raw kombucha, and discovered after 3 days my house is too cold for it to really start growing (68 degrees). I have a reptile mat that I have placed under a plastic container that I have then placed the jar inside of, and a kitchen thermometer reads at 86 degrees in between the space of the jar and the plastic container. Is this too hot for growth? I assume the tea itself is not at 86 degrees but don’t want to kill my baby!

  • Nicole

    I have two SCOBY that originally came from the same ‘mother’ and have been brewing delicious ‘buch in separate small containers for a little over a month. They are both very healthy and growing fast, so much that they are now taking up more than half of their vessels! Today I bought a huge jar (2.5 gallon) and I’m wondering if it is ok to put both of the SCOBYs in the same jar now?
    I live in Costa Rica and it has been tough to find a jar larger than the avarage ‘sauce’ jar sold in stores. When I saw the 2.5 gallon, I jumped to buy it, but now I’m worried that it may be too big.
    So, I have enough bottles around to make 7 ‘second ferments’ at a time. (I keep collecting them from the restaurant next door!) So I could feasibly do a two gallon batch of ‘buch, but is that recommended?
    My other concern is my SCOBY, coming from such a small jar before (less than a liter) will it be able to change over? Should I keep the two separate still? Do I just slowly increase the amount of new tea I put into the large jar with each new batch as my SCOBY grows?
    So many questions!
    I’m mostly concerned about ‘cross contamination,’ is this a valid concern? Or is it ok since they both came from the same mother to begin with they seem like twins ;)
    Thanks for your help! Your blog and posts have been extremely enlightening on this journey!
    Gracias y Pura Vida

  • Mary

    Just bottled my first batch… and wondering what part of the Scoby to save…. It has a thick white skin on top. Thankyou!

  • barbara

    I think i may have started with tea that was too warm under the surface … first time making a larger brew. Day 2and nothing happening on the surface … would this have scorch ed the scoby? testing the surface was only slightly warm and then when i added the scoby and stirred i saw that it was not room temp … but too late. thanks!

  • Shawna

    Hi, I started my first brew last night and forgot to put it in a safe spot so I moved it this morning…should I assume I disrupted the primary acidification process and increased the risk of mold and start over?

    I’m also worried that the tea/sugar mixture may still have been a bit too warm when I added the kombucha and scoby.

    Any insight is appreciated.


  • Andrea

    Can I add acv or gts original to the nute in place of the starter tea ? I added a cup of acv to full bottle of gts and the Scooby is clearish and the buch smells like vinegar, do I have a vinegar culture now?

  • Becky

    Did I need to refrigerate the scoby upon delivery until I was ready to use? I kept it in package for a couple days until I was ready to use today…

  • Kristi

    Is it possible for my KT to brew in just four days? I’ve just started making Kombucha and the first few times I let it ferment 7 days because that’s what I’ve read. But it was so vinegary that it kind of burned my throat when I drank it. These last few brews I’ve only let it ferment 4-5 days max and it tastes great. I guess my question is: Is the KT fermenting long enough to be considered real Kombucha?

  • Robin

    I am a Newbie….house is only about 69 degrees. bought a belt to go around my 1 gallon glass jar – brew got up to 86 degrees…did it kill my scoby? I am on day 2 now and don’t see any bubbles – my scoby is floating on the bottom

  • jennifer

    I recently tried to email some pics of my 5 day old brew to see if it looks like it should at this piont. But my email will not go thro. It is my very first batch. How can I get these pis to u?

    The ~Jen

  • Alexis

    What do you do if your kitchen is hot? Came home and my brew (day 5) is 88 degrees.

  • Barbara Holch
    Barbara Holch

    HI, I just finished my first batch, I let it sit for almost two weeks, but its super fizzy and I love it. I want to start the second batch. Im confused on the Scoby part. My son brews and told me to separate the new Scoby from the bottom half of the original Scoby. It looked new, I put it in the fridge with some of the liquid in the jar while getting ready for next batch. Reading on your site, it sounds like I should use both pieces of Scoby, old and new. While Im learning can you tell me the difference, which one to start the new batch with and what to do with what I thought the older piece was (besides cooking it or eating it). Thanks so much

  • nancy

    Thank you for your information

  • Eric Childs
    Eric Childs

    86 is not to hot to grow SCOBY. I would say its getting a little warm to make tasty ‘buch but SCOBY’s will love it.

    We dont recommend using a store bought bottle to start a SCOBY because you dont know where your colony of microbes will be starting from. IT may be very low and you will not be getting the full strength, diverse kombucha you want. You also dont know what process the commercial brew has gone through. It may have additives or been filtered. We are about to post a blog on the subject take a peak.

  • Eric Childs
    Eric Childs


    When increasing brew vessel size increase the amount of SCOBY you use by the amount of gallons you are increasing to. In your case from 1 gallon to 2.5 you would need 2.5x the SCOBY you had in your 1 gallon brew. Along with SCOBY and almost more important is starter liquid. Remember to use 1 cup of starter per gallon.

    You can take your mother in to any vessel you like. Just be sure to wash the new vessel out well. You will not cross contaminate.

    Happy brewing!

  • Alexina

    Hey there, new to this whole kombucha deal. I was gifted a scoby earlier this summer (June I think) and kinda forgot I had it until about a week ago. Spent all summer undisturbed in my dark cupboard, covered tightly with a cloth. Its a LOT thicker than when I first got it (like a couple inches) and a caramelly brown colour. Smells pungently yeasty (a bit like fresh bread yeast I guess) and there’s no mold that I can see. My question is: is it safe to use at all? My gut is telling me that I’m probably worrying for nothing but I was just wondering if its too old to use. If anyone here could guide me on this I’d really appreciate it!

  • Chris

    Hi Jennifer, try and send again to, but also you can post them to the Facebook ‘Buch Brewer’s Group here

  • Chris

    Your SCOBY is fine up to 116 degrees F.

  • Chris

    Hi Ria, that sounds like something is amiss. What recipe did you use? At what temperature are you brewing?

  • Chris

    Hi Becky, it’ll be fine as long as it doesn’t exceed 116 degrees!

  • Chris

    Two days may not be long enough, depending on the environment, to see new SCOBY growth. Your culture will be fine on warm tea as long as it doesn’t exceed 116 degrees F.

  • Chris

    Hi Mary, use the newest, palest bit of SCOBY if you want to prioritize the healthiest SCOBY.

  • Chris

    Hi Kristi, if it’s brewing at a warm temperature, 4 days may be long enough for your brew. It’s ready when it tastes good!

  • Chris

    Hi Alexina, your SCOBY should be okay to use, and you’ll be able to tell it’s viable when you brew with it and you see new culture growth on the surface of the tea and your kombucha develops a more vinegar-y flavor vs. a very sweet flavor.

  • Melinda

    My scoby has stayed at bottom of jar. Is that a problem?

  • Eric Childs
    Eric Childs

    Barbara, All you need is 1 scoby for a brew. We like to use 2 but it does not mean 1 wont work. Use the top/newest SCOBY in your new brews.

  • Eric Childs
    Eric Childs

    Alexis, although 88 is hot it will not hurt your brew. Cooler temperatures is what you need to worry about. At 88 your brew will be very acidic much quicker then at cooler but it will still be heathy and good to drink. If its to tart for you cut it with some unfermented sweet tea before you bottle.

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