Mold on my SCOBY

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Mold on my SCOBY

Postby Dgocowboy on Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:52 am

So friend gave me a SCOBY, and I brewed my sweet tea, cooled it, put it in a gallon jar with the SCOBY and a cup of starter, covered the jar with a cloth, and put it out of the way. The SCOBY wasn't floating on the top, but was down near the bottom, which I thought was ok. A few days later, I noticed a film on the top, which I took as a good sign that a new SCOBY was growing. The next time I checked, though, there were little clumps of what look like mold growing on the new SCOBY.

Should I remove the new SCOBY and see whether another one forms on top? Should I toss the new SCOBY and the Kombucha, and start again with the old SCOBY using different Kombucha as the starter, or is the old SCOBY contaminated, too? I'm new at this, and totally confused. Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby Christopher Weeks on Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:36 am

I want to start by saying that I don't really know. But if you're pretty sure it's mold, what I'd do is take off the new SCOBY and throw it away, but try to keep the brew going. Do you have the cloth tied or rubber-banded to the jar?
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby Dgocowboy on Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:36 pm

Yes, there is a cloth rubberbanded over the top of the jar. Has been there from the start.

OK, I'll toss the new SCOBY. Thanks for the input.
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby WWFSM on Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:30 pm

I had this happen once, right when I started kombucha. I don't know if it was mold or not, but here's what I did and it fixed the problem.

Tossed the new mother away, keeping the original. Rinsed a new kombucha vessel with boiling water, then wiped with white vinegar. Made a kombucha tea as per normal, except 50/50 old kombucha and new sweet tea. When the new mother grew, I went back to normal kombucha making.

If it is mold, some possible causes include antibacterial soap, using flavoured tea like earl grey, and that's all off the top of my head.

Let us know how it goes with yours.
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby Dgocowboy on Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:17 pm

UPDATE: Ok, so I removed the scoby with the mold, wiped the edges of the container with a cloth soaked in white vinegar, changed the cloth that was covering the jar, and waited to see what happened. The old scoby, which had been hanging out near the bottom of the jar, grew a new scoby on the surface of the tea, which remained mold free. After a month, I removed the old scoby and the new scoby (which was quite thin) to a hotel with a couple of cups of kt, and strained and jarred the remainder of the kt for the fridge. I then made a new batch of sweet tea, added the old and new scobys to it, along with a couple of cups for starter, and am letting them do their thing.

The Kombucha from the first batch is delicious. I just wish I had more. Didn't even need to flavor it.

I'm wondering why my scobys don't float, and whether they will continue to thicken while submerged in the tea (while thin new ones grow on top)?
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby pinkraut on Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:43 am

Thanks Dgocowboy and WWFSM, very helpful.

There's another thread that recommends against using any kombucha or mothers contaminated with mold. But, after all, if you can recover the mother to get a new one with no mold, that proves the new mother has killed the bad molds, no?

My mother got quite moldy after a week, but the mold was on top of a skin of new mother so I removed it. Wish I could upload a photo, it was really interesting. :lol:

My mistake was probably brewing tea with chai spices: oily ones like cinnamon, anise, cardamom. I read elsewhere that the oils prevent the mother from breathing...but if that were the case the new film wouldn't have formed under the molds. I think the molds are thriving specifically on the oils.

I will try your method for recovering the old, 'sunken' mother.
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby Jenspeed on Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:31 pm

I ended up with a bunch of moldy batches when I first started brewing and threw everything out. Luckily my friend gave me a giant mother to start, so I had enough for four batches.

My sense of what produced the mold was:
1. My first batch I used a green/mint tea instead of a black tea. Now I use pg tips. I might also not have let the tea cool down enough and killed my scoby.
2. I don't think I got my first batches were warm enough, so the scoby didn't grow. The batch that did work, I put in the oven with the light on. After that I got a heat pad for seedlings.
3. I don't think I sterilized everything as well as I could've

Once I got the whole thing going, it's been super easy and has gone well.
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Re: Mold on my SCOBY

Postby bacteriaguy on Sun May 28, 2017 4:40 pm

Jenspeed wrote:I ended up with a bunch of moldy batches when I first started brewing and threw everything out. Luckily my friend gave me a giant mother to start, so I had enough for four batches.

My sense of what produced the mold was:
1. My first batch I used a green/mint tea instead of a black tea. Now I use pg tips. I might also not have let the tea cool down enough and killed my scoby.
2. I don't think I got my first batches were warm enough, so the scoby didn't grow. The batch that did work, I put in the oven with the light on. After that I got a heat pad for seedlings.
3. I don't think I sterilized everything as well as I could've

Once I got the whole thing going, it's been super easy and has gone well.


Those are all possible reasons. I've noticed that I don't get mold if I keep it very acidic. I use more starter culture from the last batch. I use nothing but black tea and not much of it. Same goes for sugar-- I use white sugar and the lowest amount I can get away with using. And I use two ply coffee filters rather than a cloth to cover my jar.
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