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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Kombucha & Fermented Tea Forum > ugh... why isn't this working...
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:10 PM   #1
Leah
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Default ugh... why isn't this working...

I live in PA (near Philadelphia) and my booch won't bubble.
Questions;
Do I need to keep the bottles at a certain temp? Do they need to be dark?

I've tried all different methods, some with fruit (strawberries), some with juice (concord grape or mint with fresh lime juice), some with added sugar (teaspoon each of white sugar with non flavored booch). My current batch is on day 4 and no bubbles.

It's been a chilly spring and my house stays rather cool. The first fermentation creates a SCOBY (but it's not pretty, white and thick like others I've seen), The temp of my house usually reads around 69 degrees. We are still wearing long sleeves on most days.
Should I have a heating pad for the second fermentation?

It's almost as if the booch comes out of the first fermentation tasting better than after it's bottled. (Yes, I cleaned the bottles in the dishwasher then in a white vinegar rinse to remove at left over soap. I have also boiled the bottles as well. ) I've only had one bottle bubble after 6 days.

Any suggestions?
thanks!

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Old 05-05-2013, 05:25 AM   #2
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Is your booch bottled, but not carbonated?

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Old 05-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #3
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yes, that is correct. It's bottled but not carbonated.

Today I did find one of my testing bottles was more firm (day 5). I use one plastic bottle to test the carbonation by firmness. That bottle felt harder, but not by much. I ferment in glass, and all but one bottle of my booch is in stored in glass for the second ferment.

Maybe it's the ferment? The SCOBY isn't super thick from any batch yet but they are growing, just thin. It's a young SCOBY.

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Old 05-10-2013, 05:49 PM   #4
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Sorry for the late reply, but I haven't visited this forum in a while. I've been brewing for just a year, and noticed after a very successful spring & summer that around Thanksgiving time my baby-scobys were looking very wimpy - translucent for several days longer than normal, not thickening up, not getting nice & white & opaque.

I finally figured out in about January of this year that I needed to sit my one-gallon open primary fermentation jars on a heating pad set on Medium, keeping the batch about about 80-82 deg F. It fixed my problem, so it may help with yours also.

Here in Central Texas, we let the house temp float to around 76-78 deg F during the day to save on A/C costs (but about 72 deg F or sleeping at night). By November the house will stay around 68-70 deg F much of the time. That 8-10 degree swing was enough to affect my scoby formation.

However... I was still getting decent tasting Kombucha even though I was worried about my scoby formation from Nov to Jan. I wasn't having a problem with getting a bubbly secondary fermentation, and I'm a big fan of very carbonated KT. I wonder if it's possible your yeast has died & you might need a new mother. Do you keep your scobys in a "hotel" (jar of KT & scobys) and go a long time between making batches without changing the liquid in the hotel-jar?

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Old 05-20-2013, 03:37 AM   #5
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Leah, can you post your recipe and process? It'll help us know where the trouble might be since temperature is just a minor variable.

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Old 05-20-2013, 04:23 AM   #6
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Generally you want 2-3weeks at close to 70F for carbonation. It can happen at the lower temps but will take longer.

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Old 05-20-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
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Hi All,
thanks for the information and interest. Finally, after 9 days, it bubbled. Turns out patience is what I needed. However, I will add that one entire batch never bubbled. I believe it was because the new bottles I purchased never fully sealed. They had to be tossed. I'm on the hunt for more bottles. (not looking for beer bottles, but I'm sure they would be best.)

I'm keeping a journal of all my steps and reviewing it helped. Seems like the low temps had something to do with it, as well as a weak brew. Everything I've read said to never let the bottled booch stand more than 4 days. It could explode. At four days, I had zero carbonation, so that confused me.

We had an illness in the house so my attention was away from the bottles and by the time I got back to them, they were plenty fizzy! Plenty! And tasty too!

Now that the temp is rising, the batches are coming into their own sooner. I even let one batch go to just about vinegar (which took a very long time in the making) but I will use it as a base for new batches. I find using a strong batch will help the new batch.

My SCOBYs are thicker and stronger as well. Seems to be working out nicely.
I'm going to start experimenting with smaller batches and different flavors.
Would love to hear what others are doing with flavors. I went to a tea store and an herb store. Very excited to try out rose and jasmine!
thanks again!

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