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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
2/21/12 3:05 A

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Quick update: The move has resulted in a thriving SCOBY! As I sit here, I can actually hear the yeasts fizzing and popping under the towel insulated jar sat beside me on the desk- and I can tell when it's time to decant: the vinegar odour gets overpowering!

I'm now caught up with my stock of full Kombucha bottles under the sink and am once again drinking my daily allowance.

How's everyone else getting on with their fermenting endeavours?

Paul

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
1/15/12 3:11 P

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Moved my Kombucha and Kefir fermenting operation into the living room this morning- they're just too cold in the Kitchen, bless! I've got them both sat on my desk like spoiled kids....

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PETALIA's Photo PETALIA SparkPoints: (83,666)
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12/1/11 8:46 P

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Me, too, Paul! Not kamboucha or kefir, but my tempeh incubating (in the oven) now requires two clip-on lights at 25W for the first 12 hours, then one light for the rest of the time. That's double summertime wattage! If you don't have a good system to bring up the temps, I find light is working well for me. I thought I might need a heat producing bulb ( like those to keep little chicks warm) but no, I need way less. A light bulb might not concentrate the heat in one area, it can be diffused and all. Well you know all about that, photographer that you are:)


WINGS1296's Photo WINGS1296 Posts: 361
12/1/11 2:44 P

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Well it was better than the last 3 batches but still not like before and still not something I would drink. So...I'm waiting for a new scoby since everything in my hotel had also been exposed to the cane juice crystals. I have a friend that is brewing a batch and I think she said it will be ready tomorrow so I should be able to try again soon!

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
12/1/11 2:39 A

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So how do I know it's Autumn? Yes, the leaves are falling, but Norman, the kombucha SCOBY is hibernating, taking nearly a fortnight to ferment! Time to get the heating plate out of the cupboard, methinks,,,, the temperature of the jar was 62F when I checked- about 10F below working temperature! I refuse to turn on the whole house heating just for the kombucha.... the kefir seems to have slowed, too, but not greatly.
Well, at least it gives me the chance to catch up with my KT drinking!

Paul

ps- @Wings- so, did it work? :D


Edited by: PAULDODO at: 12/1/2011 (02:40)
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WINGS1296's Photo WINGS1296 Posts: 361
11/3/11 4:24 P

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Duh! I should have thought of this sooner! I'll run to the store after work and pick up a bag of the white stuff and start a new brew tonight!!! Will let you know if it works!

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
11/3/11 3:58 P

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Ah, yes, Sugar, white, refined! Apparently there are things present in unrefined sugar that can affect the taste and ferment process, so I would definitely go back to the white stuff!

At least we can be assured that most of it is converted.... :)

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WINGS1296's Photo WINGS1296 Posts: 361
11/3/11 3:29 P

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Horrible as in, when I tasted it I had to spit it out. Tasted like what I imagine feet would taste like!

There is a brownish deposit at the bottom and strings throughout. Not as many bubbles as before. Maybe my yeast ratio is unbalanced. I'll give it a whirl and start again.

Just a thought - I don't use regular sugar. I use cane juice crystals. I think I may have used regular sugar in the beginning. Perhaps I should stop at the store and purchase a small bag of regular sugar and try that too. I've swapped cane juice crystals for sugar with everything else and not had a problem but maybe this is one area that I shouldn't....

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
11/1/11 5:07 P

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Wings- when you say 'horrible and undrinkable', what exactly do you mean, tastewise?

I'd go over the basics again: check the quality and amount of tea and sugar you're using, the temperature it's sitting at during the ferment, the time it's taking between making and bottling, and simple things such as the ratio of KT vinegar to sweet tea added to the new ferment, ensuring the sweet tea is absolutely cooled before adding the SCOBY. Also try the new thick SCOBY and leave the older one in the remaining KT as a SCOBY hotel, possibly adding a little fresh sweet tea to it to keep the levels high....

It may take a couple more Ferments to get it straight again, but if the SCOBY is ok, checking all the above should do it. Look for CO2 bubbles happening after a few days to show the yeasts are working- is there a brownish deposit at the bottom after a week?

Keep us updated!

Paul

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WINGS1296's Photo WINGS1296 Posts: 361
11/1/11 3:49 P

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I was going along great with my KT then I don't know what happened. The last 3 batches I made have been horrible and undrinkable. The first one I figured I just let it go too long or had something wrong - not to worry, I just started another batch. But then the 2nd one tasted horrible too. The scoby looked good, it was producing, no mold....so I knew I was going to be gone for a couple weeks so I just left the whole batch sit. 3rd batch - I cleaned out my jar good, rinsed it with vinegar, and the whole process. Used the large scoby that had produced from batch 2 sitting and also pulled another out of my hotel just for kicks. Had lots of vinegary k so I was good to go. Nope - it is horrible too. Frustrated and didn't want to deal with it. So I've left it sit for over a month now too. Interestingly enough - the scoby on top has thickened to about 3/4 inch. The second scoby that was in the jar is still sitting on the bottom. Any suggestions? I'm almost out of good KT and don't want to be without it for even a day. Do I start from scratch and use a new scoby from my hotel and cider vinegar rather than what it currently sitting in my jar? Or do I need to get a brand new scoby from a friend and go from there? Thoughts???

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EVELYNF's Photo EVELYNF SparkPoints: (16,586)
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6/27/11 3:47 P

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Oh my - I should have read this first... I got rid of the whole kit and caboodle yesterday. I didn't want to risk bad bacteria contamination, especially since I am new to this and that top later looked pretty bad - the original scoby also had a dark spot that wasn't there before... Never fear! I will keep trying and persevere!



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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
6/20/11 2:49 A

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I think you're right on all counts! That new SCOBY looks very poorly-I'd carefully take it out of the jar and throw it away, then leave the original in the KT another week to allow the kombucha to get really vinegary, so you can use it to inoculate the next batch- draw it off from the lower middle portion of the jar to avoid sucking up any nasties- I think you may be ok as the original SCOBY stayed at the bottom. Try to find somewhere the temperature can stay constant, such as a dark cupboard in the bathroom or under the stairs, where it can sit undisturbed. I'd say it's almost impossible to get a good, drinkable brew from the first few tries, but it's all a very good learning curve and so worth it in the end!

p

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EVELYNF's Photo EVELYNF SparkPoints: (16,586)
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6/19/11 6:23 P

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I think it was not having enough starter tea and not knowing about adding vinegar to help with that. This was my first brew. I got the scoby from our own msdesertrodent. It looked perfect so I'm pretty sure it was the conditions on my end. My one friend thinks that maybe the heat we had did something to it.

I still have it going, so now there's a layer over the top of the entire jug. I photographed it and will post, it has these mushroom looking things on it. The scoby itself has a layer attached to it and threads coming out of it. Shame because I can see that the tea is carbonated :(



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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
6/11/11 5:29 A

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Meh, I wrote a huge reply and lost it!!

Anyhoo, here's a link to a site that helped me hugely when I had problems. users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balan
ce
/#Less%20Yeast.


It's just a matter of balance and consistency- of sugars, heat, strength of brew, yeasts, bacterias.....all affected by local conditions and influences!

If you want to inoculate your brew with KT, I'd suggest putting out an appeal on the team pages rather than using commercial stuff, but I'm not sure that's not the real problem you have- where did you get your SCOBY from? have you used it before, or was this your first brew? It took me a couple of failed brews before I saw any success, the SCOBY just needed time to settle in and get used to the new place!

P

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EVELYNF's Photo EVELYNF SparkPoints: (16,586)
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6/10/11 10:59 A

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OK I've made the conversions as best I could: I used 2.839 L of water, 3 tbs of loose leaf green tea, 118.294ml of the old KT, and approx 196 grams of sugar. Looks like i might have used more sugar than you.

My scoby is now traveling, it's on it's side up the side of my jar and it does have a thin layer attached to it so I'm thinking it's the baby. I do have green spots on the white ones, so far the scoby looks clean but i haven't inspected it closely. I think I may start from scratch again - can I buy plain kombucha and add a whole bottle to the scoby to give it extra mold fighting power? I have a feeling we have a lot of spores in the house - YUCK!!!

How do you store the extras?

Edited by: EVELYNF at: 6/10/2011 (11:00)

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
6/10/11 3:25 A

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Measurements- like our shared language- don't seem to travel well across the Atlantic! Here's what I use when I make KT:
~4.5 litres almost boiled water into which I infuse 6 tablespoons of loose green tea, using a home made lint bag, which I take out without squeezing after 15-30 mins.
~300g of white sugar added to the cooling tea and stirred well.
~About 400ml of old KT, added once the sweet tea is room temps- I had a bad experience adding vinegar!
SCOBY, inspected and cleaned with old KT and added to the cooled brew above.
Does that sound about the same as yours? I think I make my tea brew a little stronger than yours.

If you're experiencing high ambient temperatures, I'd expect to see an increase in yeast activity, making more CO2 and the brownish deposits on the bottom of the jar, as well as on the mother SCOBY itself, as well as a weaker baby SCOBY. The threads are part of the conversion process- mycelia, I think they're called, if I've spelled it right!

White spots on the top of the brew are normal, but not with green tints! They are usually connected to the mother via threads of mycelia and slowly grow on the surface to make the familiar baby SCOBY- if not, they could be mould. Is your home humid, too? This could encourage 'bad' bacteria and moulds to grow in the jar.

My mother SCOBY floats on the surface, no matter how much I de-gass it! I had a very similar experience to you last year and I persevered for about 6 months before throwing in the towel and picking up another SCOBY from a trusted local source. I now have a SCOBY hotel with many spares!!

So many things to think about!

p



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EVELYNF's Photo EVELYNF SparkPoints: (16,586)
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6/9/11 5:28 P

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HI Paul I'll go over your questions as best as I can, I'm at work so I don't have it in front of me

Does the mould have colour? Anything other than white, cream or light brown would indicate bad things- and your SCOBY should be smooth, not furry!

The spots are floating on the top and are predominantly white, though it looks like there may be a little green in some of them. I can't get a close enough look. I have confirmed furriness in at least one of them. I can't see the scoby as it has been on the bottom the whole time, I don't think it has anything on it but I haven't inspected it yet.

The problem could be a raft of things, from too much heat, not enough old KT/vinegar to sterilize the batch, to an incorrect sweet tea mix. are there 'threads' growing from the mother into the tea?

my house has been up to 79 degrees, part of the US is having a heat wave and we've been keeping the AC at a balmy 78. I'm not sure how much old KT i added to the new mix, maybe 1/3 or 1/2 cup. I used 3 quarts water to 2 - 3 tablespoons of loose leaf green tea I got in Hong kong in 2007, i also used 1 cup organic sugar. There's something definitely growing from the scoby to the top, it looks kind if gross (like an alien) there are more than one of those.

Is there any evidence that a ferment is taking place, such as bubbles or clearer liquid around the SCOBY? The new baby should be growing on the surface, rather than halfway down the jar- is there a clear, thin film on the surface at all? This would be the new SCOBY. How long has it all been standing?

So many questions! My gut reaction would be to throw anything away that's been contaminated by bad bacteria- I'd try again with the old SCOBY, unless it has growths, too?

I can't tell it's at the bottom of the jug

It's sometimes a cruel, hard journey, but it's definitely worth the effort- please keep us informed!

Will do - thanks!!!



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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
6/9/11 3:34 A

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Does the mould have colour? Anything other than white, cream or light brown would indicate bad things- and your SCOBY should be smooth, not furry! The problem could be a raft of things, from too much heat, not enough old KT/vinegar to sterilize the batch, to an incorrect sweet tea mix. are there 'threads' growing from the mother into the tea? Is there any evidence that a ferment is taking place, such as bubbles or clearer liquid around the SCOBY? The new baby should be growing on the surface, rather than halfway down the jar- is there a clear, thin film on the surface at all? This would be the new SCOBY. How long has it all been standing?

So many questions! My gut reaction would be to throw anything away that's been contaminated by bad bacteria- I'd try again with the old SCOBY, unless it has growths, too?

It's sometimes a cruel, hard journey, but it's definitely worth the effort- please keep us informed!

Paul

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EVELYNF's Photo EVELYNF SparkPoints: (16,586)
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6/8/11 8:13 P

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I tried my first batch this week but I think I have mold? It's in dots at the top of the tea and I can't get a close look but I do think they are fuzzy - poop!! The momma scoby's on the bottom and there's definitely something alien looking growing in the middle, baby perhaps? Is there anything I can do to save it/them? I was reading the link and it looks like I may need to add more vinegar to my starter next time since it's possible I have mold spores floating around. but do you think I should try to do what he says or call it a wash and start from scratch again?

Any suggestions??



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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
3/16/11 3:42 P

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Before you throw it, please post a pic of it- if it's ok, we can advise, whereas if it's contaminated it will serve as a record of what a bad SCOBY looks like for others!

If you need another SCOBY, let me know, Mandy. emoticon

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WORKTHEGOAL's Photo WORKTHEGOAL Posts: 13,136
3/15/11 6:06 P

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I'm afraid my loving tender care hasn't paid off - I tried all sorts together with fresh vinegar etc, but this mould is just too strong, it keeps returning - the culture is still floating like a good'n though!!!!

Think its time to discard, I've been playing nursemaid for weeks now...............

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
2/18/11 1:24 P

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Hmmm, yes, because the SCOBY loves things to stay the same once it's settled- and yu thought kids were demanding!

p

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WORKTHEGOAL's Photo WORKTHEGOAL Posts: 13,136
2/17/11 2:20 P

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Thanks Paul,
No vent, fruit or plants?! See what I mean - I know the link said the spores could be airbourne but its a mystery!

I won't give up - its sad cause the baby scoby is trying to grow but its immediately covered in mould within 2 days so I had to scoop it out!

Oh.......... just had a thought! I did put the brew away in the larder for a day a couple of weeks ago............. that has a vent! (I needed the usual 'Little Arab' space in the kitchen to do something) That could be it - Oh shucks!



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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
2/17/11 1:22 P

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One thing to consider- is your fermenting site near a fruit bowl or houseplants or a vent? Could be that spores are migrating over- and I'd also check that you're adding enough KT to do the job.

We'll get you there!

p

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WORKTHEGOAL's Photo WORKTHEGOAL Posts: 13,136
2/17/11 1:02 P

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Yep its definitely surface mould, and since the beginning I continue to add some of the raw kt into the fresh brew too.

If I use some of the fermenting tea and put it aside to continue fermenting, won't that still carry the mould?

I've run out of distilled vinegar now so need to buy more tomorrow.

Think I need to remove my 'Little Arab' from the fermenting and place him in a bowl of freshly brewed tea with a high content of vinegar - just wish I knew where this mould came from.....

M x

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
2/17/11 11:54 A

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Mandy- are you adding a quantity of the raw KT back into the fresh brew? that usually cures mould growth.

Another thought- are you confusing the dark, sometimes blue or brown deposits that occur underneath and inside the SCOBY as mould? It's only mould if it's growing on the surface of the SCOBY, and then it's pretty obviously mould! Just a thought. :)

Rather than using fresh raw KT, maybe keep some aside to continue fermenting and let it turn into vinegaryKT- then use that as an additive? Your SCOBY hotel would be a good place to store it until it's good and sour!

p

Edited by: PAULDODO at: 2/17/2011 (11:56)
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WORKTHEGOAL's Photo WORKTHEGOAL Posts: 13,136
2/17/11 9:05 A

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I've been having mould problems in the last two batches and just read the link below - I'm hoping some additional distilled vinegar will do the trick!

Its a nuisance because I've been doing so well up til now - but according to the link its a common problem with us beginners....................

Will keep you informed.

M x

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
5/5/10 12:52 P

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Glad I could be of service!

I'm twitching to mess with the kombucha right now, but can't for at least a week more! I'm not getting the familiar 'overcooked' vinegar odour, yet, but no doubt it will come. I keep telling myself, 'It's all for the good of the SCOBY'.....

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RANJINI4's Photo RANJINI4 Posts: 3,214
5/4/10 7:21 P

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Will be trying to brew some tea this wednesday-glad to know of the need to make a little weaker tea if need be.

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RMREEVESOLIS's Photo RMREEVESOLIS Posts: 967
5/3/10 5:32 P

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great information! thanks for sharing.

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5/1/10 10:33 P

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Thanks for the link! After reading, I think I've figured out my problem...I increased the amount of sugar going in at the beginning. I will decrease it back to a little under a cup for 3 L of tea and see what happens.

Wish me luck! I'd hate to have to start over. I DO have a couple extra SCOBYs in the fridge, though.

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
5/1/10 5:42 P

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Then DEFINITELY go to this site! He has a solution for everything, it seems- and it sounds like you do have a lack of healthy yeasts and a 'too-strong' bacteria in the SCOBY, although I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Glad to hear you're still fermenting, too!

Paul

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5/1/10 5:14 P

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Huh.
I think I have the opposite problem. As you know, I do the continuous fermentation method. My mother started to split a month or so ago, so I separated it and started a new batch just like normal. But..the resulting tea is weak. Weak, with a decidedly vinegar-y flavour. I threw most of that tea out, and started more. Same deal. I'm seeing new growth on top, (was concerned for a while that it was dead, and growing mold, but it's not).

I'll have a look at your link when I get a little time.

BTW-there's a LOT of the white/tan top part, and a little brown. I didn't change my tea recipe, either.

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PAULDODO's Photo PAULDODO Posts: 1,000
5/1/10 3:28 P

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Well, I've struggled for months, now, with thin and mis-shapen SCOBYs and thought that, by increasing the strength of the tea, or raising the temperature of the ferment, or testing often, that I'd fix it, but to no avail.

So, today I decided not to give up in my search for a solution so I've been on the web most of the afternoon, looking. And finally, I think I have the solution!
users.bestweb.net/~om/kombucha_balan
ce
/#Less%20Yeast

I found this site- . and apparently, I am fermenting at a temperature (78 rather than 73.5) that favours the yeasts over the SCOBY making bacteria, and I make the tea too strong, so I'm taking their advice and making the mixture less yeast friendly by turning off my heater, brewing weaker tea for less time- 5 mins- and leaving this to ferment for three weeks, before throwing the new SCOBY, filtering the kombucha vinegar to remove most of the solid yeasts, then putting it all back in the cleaned jar for another three weeks, before restarting the normal routine.

I can do this! I have twelve bottles of Kombucha in storage so I can use this to drink, if I ration it. I need to reduce the yeast content in the SCOBY and as you know, Norman's health is as important to me as my own- you could say they are linked!

As ever, I'll keep you informed, etc....

Paul

Edited by: PAULDODO at: 5/1/2010 (15:29)
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