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Kombucha SCOBYs and Mold: A Visual Comparison

Kombucha SCOBYs and Mold: A Visual Comparison


We get quite a few photos sent to us from brewers across the globe, inquiring about kombucha SCOBYs - "Is this mold?" It's usually pretty simple to tell mold from healthy, or just bizarre, brews. Bizarre brews can result from extreme temperature fluctuation, the use of highly unrefined sugars, oily or flavored teas, or too much or too little of any ingredient; however, they won't usually create dry, fuzzy formations on the surface of the brew. Mold will always be dry and fuzzy, and form on top of the liquid in your brew jar. Read this blog post for more thoughts on kombucha and mold. 


Not Mold

The photos below indicate healthy brews in various stages of growth - some may be 3 days of growth, indicated usually by thin, papery culture growing on the surface, to thick cultures with lots of yeast involved. You'll see strands of yeast growing below the surface of the tea, like tendrils, reaching down into the brew - this is completely normal. The opaque, greenish/brownish blobs are yeast too. Often, yeast will collect on one side of your brew jar, just under the SCOBY.

As always, please keep sending photographs of your home brews! We're always happy to receive and assess the brews for you. Happy brewing!

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  • Eric
Comments 5
  • Chris

    That’s right, you can use starter and/or white vinegar, or even water would be fine – the SCOBY is very resilient!

  • Ozzilla

    Unfortunately i didn’t read everything I should have before I started my 2nd batch o’ ’buch. I used my starter scoby from my friend and my baby scoby from my first batch, one each in gallon glass pickle jars. I used a flavored peach tea and a flavored Pom/Raz thinking I could short cut the flavoring process and end up with a tasty brew. Two weeks later I do have a decent tasting brew and no signs of mold.

    I’m wondering if there is a safe way to “wash” my scobys before the next batch to neutralize flavor and avoid cross contamination or if it would be safer to get a new scoby before moving forward? Or since there is no mold should I just do it the right way with a recommended starter tea and white vinegar?

  • Simon

    Thx for the great post! I was worried about my 10 days buch with green blobs but seems like it’s just yeast. Do you get the nice white mother after a few batches?

  • Chris

    Carrie, lack of nutrient makes it difficult for appropriate safe-guarding acids to form. If it is indeed mold, you may be able to use the old mother in order to start a new brew, without the risk of mold. The best way to go about this is to brew as normal with the old SCOBY, using 3 TBSP distilled vinegar as the starter (in lieu of kombucha). Make sure you’re using 1 cup of sugar and 12 g (6 tea bags) of tea per gallon that you’re brewing. Let us know how it goes, and happy brewing!

  • Carrie

    I am only a few days in to my first brew and am worried I am getting mold (it is small, fuzzy, and white :(). I might not have added enough tea – can this cause mold to form? How does the tea work in the process? Is it too late to ‘rescue’ my scooby if I am 4 days in?

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