Organic Kombucha

Kombucha Tea, Cultures, Benefits and Hazards

Trouble Shooting: Spewin Brewer November 21, 2007

So, sometimes you may have little difficulties. It’s natural, just like Kombucha. So, when I first got my GORGEOUS new brewer, i did everything jusssst as I should have, but when I got up the next day, i noticed leaking. LOTS of it.

What did I do? I called Dave. Guess what? I didn’t need too.


9.99 times out of 10, a leaky brewer is due to owner malfunction, not product malfunction. You must must must must MUSSSST put the spigot and washers on as TIGHT as possible. When you have it that tight, tighten it some more. it’s much better to tighten the heck out of it before you brew, or as I did, you’ll end up with:

1. a big ol’ mess

2. troubleshooting/blame session, and

3. a very wet hand.


29 Responses to “Trouble Shooting: Spewin Brewer”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Hey. I’ve got a question. I can’t find the dispenser you have pictured here at It’s a crock right? I can only find plastic buckets w/ spigots. Help me out please!

    ————————— DAVE’S RESPONSE ——————————————————



  2. yumv Says:

    hey nicole! i’m not sure why they’re not up yet! i got mine a bit early to test and review (I LOVE IT!) and i’m sure they’ll be up there for sale any day now. i’ll do a post when they are! hannnng in there.

  3. Garry Says:

    how is the crock pot certified no lead? I just purchased a ceramic pot but it was made in China and am not convienced it does not have lead. Just tossed out my first batch after reading how the acid in the tea will leach out the lead in ceramic, and other materials including toxins in stainless steel. It is recommended to ferment in glass only, according my what is listed on the web. What is your experience and how can you test for the lead?

  4. Rev. Debra Says:

    I have a question for the webmaster: what is “ORAGNIC KOMBUCHA” as it appears at the header of this website?

    I usually get paid to proofread, but I can see that your website needs a little assistance, so just thought I’d ask…

    Hey Thanks for the proof read.. yeah a bunch of people have notified us.. I guess we kind of like it that way, but we will be changing it soon!! Any Blog Guru’s out there that want to redesign this site for some free kombucha?

  5. Suzi Says:

    I am trying to subscribe to your news letter, but each time I type in my email, it says that an error has occurred and that I already subscribe. I have received it in the past along with the 7 day course. Now I don’t receive it any more. Any way…I lost page 4 of the course, so I went out and bought a book. Maybe you have heard of it; Kombucha Phenomenon, by Betsy Pryor and Sanford Holst. They say that one should only brew in a glass bowl and never in ceramic. The SCOBY will actually attempt to detoxify the bowl, thereby leaching cobalt from the ceramic. This is disconcerting to me as I have just bottled my very first batch of Kombucha that I brewed in my brand new continuous ceramic brewing system that I bought from Can you comment on this please? Thanks.

  6. Dave Says:

    Hi Suzi!

    1. Please sign up under another email address OR respond back with your email address and we will try to assist you on our end.

    2. I have that book. Betsy Prior is a pioneer with introducing kombucha to America, however, I found her book pretty basic with a lot of filler… however, as long as you learn a few things it is worth it.

    3. Regarding what to brew in… Betsy is not correct. A better statement should have been Ceramic that contains Lead. Our Porcelain Brewers DO NOT contain Lead.

    4. Happy Brewin’

  7. Suzi Says:

    Thank you Dave. I don’t have any other email. You have my address on the message. Can you not see it? It says Mail (will not be published). I would really love to get your news letter again. If you can figure it out that would be great!
    Thank you for your reassurance regarding the ceramic continuous brewer. I love it, by the way! I was unaware that lead contains cobalt. I already knew that the ceramic brewer contained no lead. Sorry!
    Happy brewin’ to you too!

  8. Suzi Says:

    Hi Dave,
    I brewed my first batch of Kombucha, bottled it after 10 days, and let it stand out of the refrigerator for an additional 2 days to acquire more bubbles. The tea is too sweet and is flat. I haven’t even burped once! Not good. It may be that the temperature in by brewing room is too cold. If the room is warmer, do you think I may succeed next time? My first batch sucks!

  9. Suzi Says:

    P.S. Did I read some where that you sell a special heating pad for the continuous brewer? I’ll buy it today if you think that it might help.

  10. Erin Says:

    Hey there,
    I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my SCOBY/starter tea, and am going to get my brewing container this week. If I’m only planning to brew about a gallon, is there any reason why I can’t brew in one of those glass jugs with a spigot that people use to make sun tea? (With muslin over the top in place of the lid, of course.) Just wondered if any of you professionals could weigh in on this…thanks!

  11. Pam Says:

    I pulled off my jars last Sat…and it was yummy,
    I have been continuely brewing since…but ran into a problem the other evening with a stinky 2 gallons…my culture looked good ontop but underneth it was brownish yellow so I cleaned it off in the distilled water and put it back in the jar, its taking a few days but I think it is still alive…I am using lead free crocks and also 2 gallon jars I got at Smart and Final…they are pretty heavey but they work good…the crocks are good because you can draw off them easily…the jars have no spouts…but I can watch the cultures easily….have a brewteaful day

  12. Michael Says:

    The best and the most “doubtless” containers are the “Glass”. I have been using the one gallon containers with the spigot, used for “Suntea” for many brewings. I have been mentioning this several times in the past, on the other Blog, which were the older version, going up to over 350 entries. Anyway, I have built my own incubator, accomodating two one-gallon jars, and never had any problems at all.

    Remember, the two most impoortant issues are the sterility and the constant temperature of 86.

  13. Michael Says:


    EDITORS NOTE: Just a reminder that the views and opinions expressed in the comments of this blog represent those of individuals and not We sponsor this blog in order to let others express and share their experience and to build a community. All content is for informational purposes only.


    RE: Item 8 posted by Suzi

    My apologies to Dave, answering Suzi’s comments, since they were directed to you!

    1 – If you do whatever you did the first time, the outcome would be identical the second time.

    2 – In my opinion, any food or drink that contain nutrients, including K.T. must be kept under refrigeration at all times, unless tons of preservatives are added, and we don’t want that. Keeping the brew at the room temperature, hoping that something miracle would happen, giving you bubbles, not only unreasonable, but also dangerous, due to the contaminant growth and decomposition and putrefaction of the elements, not suitable for consumption.

    3 – The reason your tea is sweet with no carbonation is because the “Table Sugar” had not been converted to glucose (Which is also sweet), but the glucose must be turned to vinegar, with the by-product of carbon dioxide (Bubbly). So far, you have been drinking sugar water, without any input from the SCOBY. She is in dormant state!

    4 – The main problem is the temperature. SCOBY cannot function in an adverse temperature. If you are cold, you put warm clothes on. No bubble, too sweet, no carbonations are ALL because of the wrong condition. Temperature must be constant 86 degrees, it has nothing to do with the house temperature, or being winter or summer.

  14. Lena Says:

    I need somebody to help me PLZ.
    Where is the baby scoby? I added the mother in the DELUX system and looks like the baby is forming on top of the mom? Is that what is going on. DO I have to separate them ( I’m getting emotional here ;-))

  15. lynn Enneking Says:

    These comments are helpful but I would like to see more answered. I am still waiting for my canister to come. I have brewed two in a gallon jar and, like in one comment, I am getting a brownish gook under the culture. Is it okay? If not what do I do for it?

    Also, It is cooler than it was when I brewer my first gallon and even our home is 68-70. Does this lower temp just mean that it’ll take longer to brew? I ordered the heating pad but it hasn’t come yet. I can hardly wait for my constance brewing system. My husband keeps “stealing my brew”

  16. Michael Says:

    RE: The second paragraph on Item 15 posted by:
    Lynn Enneking

    The brewing temperature must be an optimum one (86 degrees) for obtaining the best result. It is NOT the duration of time, which would help the growth of SCOBY, though it is one of the factors. The 68- 70 degrees in your case, is the culprit, which puts the Scoby is in sort of “semi” dormant at this temperature, causing lots of problems, including potential contamination should it start with even one bacterium or mold, also the trouble with decay, and putrefaction.

    You must have an independent source of the “Controlled” heat and NOT depending on your room temperature or the seasonal temperature variations.

    Consuming any product that is produced under uncertain, improper and adverse conditions could be hazardous to your health. Do not manipulate or deviate from the rules unknowingly, or creating a new “Untested” ones. SCOBY must be either under refrigeration (38 degrees; a dormant state), or 86 degrees for the active mode, harvesting the brew… either- or, and no in between! The most two crucial elements in preparation of the K.T. are: Proper temperature and total sterility.

  17. Lynn Enneking Says:

    Thank you for your quick response to my concerns. I have ordered a heating pad but am told it is on backorder so what do I do until it comes? My brew has tasted and looks real clean. When I do get the heating pad may I put it under the brewing canister directly (also whenever that order is filled) to keep the temp constant? Have a good day!

  18. Michael Says:

    RE: Item 17 posted by Lynn

    Almost all heating units have thermostats to maintain the constant temperature. That applies to the heating unit in your house, water heaters, portable heaters, irons, electric blankets, electric pads for muscle aches etc etc. However, does your heating pad provide you with the 86-degree temperature? Since I am not familiar with such pads the question would be for you to determine, by checking the temperature with a very accurate thermometer. (Do not use the ones used for cooking… they are very inaccurate.) Buy one from the medical supply houses normally used for the laboratory uses. Even if they are calibrated in Celsius, the conversion is simple. just follow the formula. in yur case, 86F= 30 C.
    I have made my own incubator with variable thermostat for making K.T. and yogurt with tow different temperature settings.

    Changing the subject totally … just thought to share: Do not use any cloth made of cotton to cover the jar’s lid, which I hear everybody are using them. Any organic material is vulnerable to contamination… bacteria & molds would thrive on them. especially the moisture absorbing property. That’s why dishrags would smell bad and turn sour. The towels that you theoretically dry your hands or dishes are the dirties part of your household and full of germs! Anyway use the nylon hosieries to cover the jar’s lids… non absobing the moisture and nothing can grow on them, and would even practically last forever, no lints, no shedding…whereas the cotton cloths would disintegrates, and why? Because of bacteria! Cotton can be a source of food, also is able to provide food for bacteria by harboring food embedded into the fibers… even the dead skin from your hands is a food source, causing the growth of mold and bacteria, possibly falling into the brew.

  19. Michael Says:

    Thank you for posting my response/comment…

  20. Daymon Pascual Says:

    I had a problem with the Spigot leaking, not from the seal but right out the spout, I imagine that it was some debris gettin stuck in there. So I made a little cork from a wine cork. Works great and not stinky floor boards.

    ——————- DAVE’S RESPONSE ————————–


  21. Michael Says:

    Daymon Pascual Says: January 5, 2009 at 5:35 am
    I had a problem with the Spigot leaking, not from the seal but right out the spout, I imagine that it was some debris gettin stuck in there. So I made a little cork from a wine cork. Works great and not stinky floor boards.

    My comment: Solving the syptom is “BandAid” approach. The “Seating” is not properly and snugly seated… you are probably right that some debris or strands and pieces of your culture got caught in between, not allowing to seal properly.

    If that were me, I would empty and save the content into a clean container keeping the jar upside down and while pushing down the spigot in the open position, run semi hot water and periodically blow from the nozzle in, Repating this procedure several times until the passageway is clear.

    Check the workability by using water, prior to pouring your K.T. in.

  22. Samantha Says:

    Some times I see brownish stuff under the scoby. What is that? Is it o.k.? When I’m ready to bottle, taking out the scoby, I do throw the brown stuff away. The tea is fine 🙂

  23. Michael Says:

    Samantha Says: January 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm
    Some times I see brownish stuff under the scoby. What is that? Is it o.k.? When I’m ready to bottle, taking out the scoby, I do throw the brown stuff away. The tea is fine

    Comment: Most often the upper part of the SCOBY is beige, and the lower part is darker. It is a common occurrence and should not cause any concern. Do not skim off any part… the more handling the Scoby , the more possibilities of contamination, which renders unnecessary anyway.
    (The new culture, light & on the upper part; the older culture, darker& on the bottom surface)

  24. STEVE Says:

    Dave…there is a company that makes sweet tea (James Tea) they use black tea and 1oz makes 1 gal…can i use this inplace of boiling tea and adding sugar…just make up 4 gal add 20% ktea add scoby?? Will scoby freeze in ride to michigan from you? Its -30 below….what do you do when your scoby gets to big for your deluxe tank? cut it into 4 parts? Can you freeze them?
    steve in michigan

  25. Samantha Says:

    Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your article specially about
    Trouble Shooting: Spewin Brewer


  26. Hey ! I visit your blog iften, and the articles are alway very interesting 😉

  27. louise Says:

    HI Dave,
    Would like to order your continuuos brewing system , but concerned , isn’t the spigot made from metal with a rubber gasket? Won’t this contaminate the tea?. or cause it to pull dangerous stuff from these things.
    Also I checked my tea with a hydrometer and I got an alcholol reading of 5%? I thought this would turn to vinegar not alchohol if left too long.
    Thanks for any info I could get/

  28. heidi keene Says:

    I am on my second batch, fermented 6 days, bottled for 4. It is absolutely flat, no carbonation and tastes insipid. I left my scoby untouched after the first round and just poured new tea in (continuous brewing method).
    Can you advise why it is lacking acid so badly?

  29. Shannon Says:

    after day 6 of brewing I woke up to my scoby laying on the bottom of my glass gallon jar. It never did seem to grow bigger and looks a little deformed now. I am wondering if this happened from the temp not being at 86 degrees and if so what can I do to save it if anything? It smells like vinegar but have not tasted it yet was worried I killed the scoby or have ruined the whole batch. Please help I am a newbie at this!

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