Kombucha too sweet after 30+ days, scoby active

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brukavin

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I recently received a scoby from a friend and began trying to brew kombucha. I used filtered water, 1 cup of sugar, and 6 green tea bags, and a cup of vinegar for starter liquid. The total batch was about 4 quarts. After a few days, I noticed a new scoby growing on the top however when I tried the kombucha it was still extremely sweet.

I have since brewed two other batches and still after almost 40 days the brews are much too sweet to drink. On both batches there is a healthy looking, almost inch thick scoby.

What am I missing??
 

Spaceman

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Are you seeing bubbles form around the edges of the scoby? 40 days is way too long, something is not working here. There's lots of things to consider here, can you attach a picture of your scoby?
 
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brukavin

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Here are the two batches I have (one is green tea and the other is a mix of black and green tea). I noticed some bubbles so I tried to take a picture in each batch. The different color in the middle of the scobies is the mother poking up.

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Spaceman

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So there are two things I see in these pictures. First, you have very few bubbles, even the small ones you took a picture of aren't enough for a normal brew. Second, you do not have any visible yeast gunk floating around (brown bits/strands).

Since you still seem to be getting new scobies with each batch, this leads me to believe that your yeast has gone dormant. This is going to take a little finesse to coax it back to full activity.

Here's what I'd like you to try:
Make a half gallon (2 quart) batch of your normal tea mixture, but use HALF the sugar that you normally would (1/4 cup in this case). Peel one of the freshest scobies off the top of your large one and place that in the batch. Do not add the scoby and starter tea until the temperature of the tea mixture has come back to room temp. We don't want to shock the dormant yeast with temperature extremes. Watch this new batch over the next week or so, look for signs of yeast activity (bubbles and brown bits/strands), and let me know if it is coming back to life!
 
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brukavin

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Ok this makes a lot of sense because I was worried the mixture was a bit hot when I added the scoby (should have mentioned that). I will certainly update you, thanks alot
 

WarmGas

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Also, if lack of yeast activity is the problem - and we are always trying to maintain a balance between the yeast and bacteria in kombucha brewing - then try upping the brew temperature. Colder temps (below 25C, 77 F) favor bacteria. Warming it up a bit may help the yeast jump into action if that is your problem.
 
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brukavin

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Ok so 6 days ago I peeled one of the new ones off the top and made the half gallon batch with half the sugar (1/4 cups) but I don't see any bubbles! Also, let me know if these are the brown strands you were talking about:

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Spaceman

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It is a little hard to tell from the first picture, but that does kind of look like the formation of yeast strands. They aren't necessarily always brown, I have seen similar strands in my batches. Give this brew another week or two, it can take time to get the yeast back to a healthy state again - don't rush anything.

When I get a chance I will take pictures of some of my healthy scobies for reference.
 

Spaceman

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Image 1: Side shot of one of my 5-gallon scobies
Image 2: Terrible image quality but you can see a brown yeast bit forming on the right
Image 3: Better image of picture #2
Image 4: Healthy fermentation going here, you can see the strands coming off the bottom of the scoby

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charles

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I'm currently making a batch of hard tea using Lipton tea in it. I added 15 tea bags 1.7 lbs of cane sugar 12 liquid oz lemon juice and 8 oz honey. It has been fermenting very good used a wine yeast.
 
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brukavin

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So it has been a very long time, and I still am not seeing strands or many bubbles. Should I repeat the half gallon, half the sugar batch?
 
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brukavin

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It is still very sweet! and I cannot check the pH at the moment
 

Spaceman

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It is still very sweet! and I cannot check the pH at the moment
Try adding a cup of distilled white vinegar to the tea. It sounds like neither the yeast nor the bacteria are currently active. The pH spike might get the bacteria going and in turn the yeast.

Do you know what temperature your fermentation is at? Does it remain consistently at that temperature?
 

carolinea

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It might be worth using actual raw kombucha as your starter instead of vinegar. Buy plain GT's raw if you don't have another source. I would also try black tea (I use 8 tea bags per gallon), the tannins tend to help the brew move along. Temperature is also extremely important if lack of yeast is the problem. Put a temperature strip on your jar and make sure it's between 75 and 85 degrees. If it's not warm enough, there are plenty of kombucha heaters out there, my personal favorite is the brew belt (buy on Amazon). Good luck!
 
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brukavin

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So Carolinea you're saying that I should use GTs, black tea, and then should I still add less sugar as others suggested? Thanks a lot
 

Spaceman

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So Carolinea you're saying that I should use GTs, black tea, and then should I still add less sugar as others suggested? Thanks a lot
All the nutrients should be there, adding a bottle of GT's might get it going. Maybe let the GT's get to room temp before adding it so you don't shock the cultures.
 

carolinea

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Brukavin, I would try it first with a regular amount of sugar (1 cup per gallon). The raw GT's should have plenty of bacteria and yeast and providing enough fuel (sugar) is important. I agree with Spaceman to let the GT's get to room temperature before using it. And don't underestimate temperature, even a few degrees can make a big difference. If yeast activity is the problem (which sounds likely), I'd aim for the higher end of the spectrum, 80-85 F. Let us know how it turns out!
 
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brukavin

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So it's only been a few days but it seems like this is doing the trick! There is a new scoby forming (which has been happening) but now there is also bubbles (which was not happening). Thanks a lot for the help, I will keep yall updated
 

carolinea

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That's awesome, glad to hear it's improving! Let us know how it turns out (hopefully less sweet)
 

GregP507

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I started with a scoby, which took a long time to catch before it fermented the kombucha properly. Now I use a bit of the previous batch to inoculate each new batch, and it works great in less than 2 days every time. Nice effervescence and pleasant taste with just the right sweetness. Just as good as the commercially bottled kombucha in every way.
 
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