Skip to content

Kombucha Brewing Tips & Tricks

Kombucha Brewing Tips & Tricks

Making kombucha is incredibly easy, but there can be an occasional hiccup that may leave you wondering what went wrong. For new and seasoned brewers alike; it may take a couple of batches with a new SCOBY to find your rhythm and what works for your particular environment. Fermentation can be a bit tricky, but at least here you’ll figure out what’s normal and how to get the best final product.

Take notes as you tweak your process, and before you know it, you’ll be cranking out bottles of ‘buch for your drinking pleasure on the regular.

Try some of these adjustments to help perfect your brewing process.


My kombucha is too sour. Bacteria and yeast from the SCOBY consume the sugar in the tea throughout the fermentation process, making it less sweet and fermenting it into the delicious kombucha tang we know and love. The longer your kombucha ferments, the more acidic and sour it will become. We like to taste ours periodically during to know when it is ready to our liking, However, if you decide to do a secondary fermentation, keep in mind that it will continue to get more sour. You can add additional sweetener when flavoring, which will also help carbonation.

If during primary fermentation your kombucha sours too quickly, your SCOBY may be out of balance, meaning that the yeast is more active than the bacteria. It is still safe to drink, but to bring the SCOBY back into balance, you may need to move the brewing container to a cooler location, make an effort to take your starter tea from the top for your next batch, wash the SCOBY with diluted spirit vinegar, or add sugar and reduce the tea strength.

My kombucha is too sweet. This is usually an indication of a slowed down fermentation process. Ideally, the slower the process, the higher the quality of the brew. If it’s too slow, move it to a warmer spot in your home, like a running system that generates automatic warmth. Refrigerators, desktop computers, or better still, greenhouses are great places to warm up your SCOBY and jumpstart fermentation. You can also re-activate potentially dormant yeasts by pulling starter from below the SCOBY, using more starter, less sugar, or increasing tea strength.


My kombucha isn’t fizzy. The secret to fizzy kombucha is increasing yeast activity during secondary fermentation. To increase carbonation, use starter from the bottom of your previous batch since there will be more yeast activity at the bottom. You can also double the amount of starter until you see more carbonation or air it out for a few days to let native yeast strains colonize your brew.

My kombucha is too fizzy. If your kombucha is too fizzy, brew it at a cooler temperature and add more sugar to make the yeast happy and bring the SCOBY back in balance. Also try decreasing the strength of the tea, re-starting your fermentation with a clean fermenting jar, or reducing the amount of sugar and fermenting time for your brew.  

SCOBY Problems

Since a SCOBY is a dynamic, living thing, expect that you need to monitor it and adapt your brewing process at first.

My SCOBY is too thin. A new SCOBY will take a few batches to grow if it has been dormant or recently re-activated. If it remains thin, consider adjusting the temperature of your brewing station. If the area is too cold, the yeast and bacteria will “sleep” and fail to ferment the tea. Make sure that you’re using the right tea, too—oils from herbal teas can harm and inhibit the SCOBY. Similarly, make sure that you’re not adding flavors during your first ferment, or using antibacterial soap to clean your kombucha vessel.

My SCOBY is too thick. If your SCOBY is too thick, simply peel off some layers. Your SCOBY will produce a new, younger SCOBY, with each batch of kombucha. Eventually they will merge into one, continuously making your mother SCOBY thicker. We like to gift our extra layers to friends who would like to join our kombucha brewing club.  


Stringy brown bits in my kombucha. These are free floating yeast colonies naturally produced during the brewing particles. They are good for you, but might not be the most attractive thing, so just strain them out using a handheld strainer or a coffee filter. This will slow down your secondary ferment, reduce the boozy component of kombucha and yield a smoother tasting beverage.  

My SCOBY is lumpy. Your SCOBY doesn’t have to win any awards for looks, and there’s a lot of variety in healthy SCOBY’s. A lumpy SCOBY is still healthy and usually corrects within a brew cycle or two.

My SCOBY has holes. If your SCOBY has holes, it’s still healthy, too. This often happens in warmer climates and seasons. To troubleshoot this, make weaker tea and brew it at a cooler temperature.

My SCOBY has mold. If your kombucha smells off, or you find fuzzy mold or fruit flies in it, just toss it out! If you’re sure that is isn’t a natural discoloration, like from the tannins in tea, don’t bother trying to save the kombucha or the SCOBY. You’ll need to start over. Try not to brew your kombucha near garbage, old food, or plants to prevent mold spores from migrating into your brewing vessel. If your SCOBY goes bad you can ask for one from a friend or buy a replacement.

Taking a brewing break. If you’d like to take a ‘buch break and put a pause on your next ferment, you can simply place your SCOBY in some kombucha in the fridge for up to four weeks. We like to use our brewing vessel since your SCOBY will grow to whatever size container you put it in. When you decide to start brewing again, just remember that your next batch may take a little longer to ferment while your SCOBY gets back in the groove.

For more kombucha info, check out our articles on bottling your kombucha and adding delicious flavors. Best of luck on your delicious kombucha brewing adventures!

Kombucha Picks:

Everything Bagel and Cream Cheese Making Kit box on concrete