Organic Kombucha

Kombucha Tea, Cultures, Benefits and Hazards

The Great Kombuca Balancing Act February 6, 2011

Filed under: dave,kombucha,kombucha Newsletter,Make Kombucha,trouble shooting — dlindy2730 @ 5:41 pm

This article will help answer many kombucha troubleshooting questions… I could hype it up with a few extra paragraphs, but I would rather have you kids dive in.. (plus I am trying to meet up with friends for karaoke tonight)! So below is Just The Meat (or tofu, for the veggies out there!)…


Dave 🙂

big kombucha cultue


So this is for peeps that want to increase the bacteria found in their k-tea.. which is also the same as decreasing the yeast strands.

Usually a sign of low bacteria is consistently not having a new culture grow (I say consistently because a batch or two of not a new culture is fine, especially if your tea is still fermenting but if a new culture is not forming on top or the existing culture is not growing AFTER SEVERAL CYCLES than most).


The bacteria rely on the yeast for alcohol and glucose. Beyond this they need oxygen and trace amounts of nutrients that they can get from the air and tea. So by supplying alcohol and glucose we can reduce the bacteria’s reliance on the yeast.

Yeast can usually withstand much wider extremes in temperature but we can still pick the optimum temp for the bacteria where the yeast tends to be more sluggish. This bacteria sweet spot tends to be in the 65 to 75 Fahrenheit range.


Use more Green Tea over Black Tea. As much as we love our Kombucha Tea Blend, in this case we would recommend using a straight Green Tea Kombucha Blend. Our personal favorite is Dragon Well Green Tea Kombucha.

Use more acidic starter. You can do this by simply using over ferment k-tea (the longer you let it ferment, the more acidic the starter tea will become). It should be very close to vinegar in terms of taste and smell. Depending on how strong the starter tea is you can use as little as 10% (instead of the normal 15% to 20% we recommend in our basic instructions).

Keep the temperature between 65 to 75 Fahrenheit. We recommend using our kombucha heat mat especially during winter months to achieve this.

Use starter that is taken off the top of any standing ferment to insure you pull from where the bacteria to yeast ratio is the highest.

Squeeze the juice of any new cultures you won’t be saving into the new ferment or where you store your starter. (very nice little secret, shhh…. don’t tell anyone… ok, fine, you can tell people, but let them know you the down low info from thekombucha site around!)

Use weak rather than strong tea strength. Strong tea provides more sterols that the yeast needs to reproduce. If they don’t get these compounds from the tea they must manufacture them their selves and this will slow them down insuring the bacteria remain more dominant. To keep it simple.. you can either cut you current steep time in Half OR use only 2/3rds the amount of tea you currently use. (I would recommend using the same amount of tea and cutting your steep time in half.. this is because green tea is less oxidized than black tea and requires less steeping time in general.. otherwise it will tend to be bitter.. and yes; I am a tea dork!).

kombucha and richord simmons


Use the same techniques above (ie, type of tea, temp, etc)

Start with a portion of newly fermented tea and place it in a fermenting container so that you have at least four inches of liquid depth.

Allow fermentation to continue for 3 more weeks.

At the end of three weeks, if a new SCOBY has formed discard and filter the contents with a paper towel or coffee filter. If you can find a way to syphon just the top clear portion of the liquid this is preferred but it’s not critical because at this point the yeast have mostly died off or gone dormant.

So what we are trying to do is build up the starter tea to have more bacteria than yeast by letting the tea over ferment and then literally straining the yeast out.

Rinse and wipe clean the container. Then replace the filtered liquid back into the container and continue to ferment for another couple of weeks or until the culture gets to approximately a 12 cm (1/2″) in thickness.

Now you’re ready to begin fermenting with your new healthy culture.


Use more black tea.

Pull starter from the bottom of the previous brewed ferment and use plenty of it.

Be conservative on sugar. It’s best to start out with a little less sugar and then add more after the ferment has proceeded a few days. This is because once the yeasts break down the sugar into glucose, if too much is in solution the yeast can become sluggish and reproduce more slowly. Home brewers commonly know this as the “Crab tree Effect”.

Here is a quick exclusive guideline to show you how to “sugar pace” your sugar (again this is just a guideline, but it will give you a better idea of what we mean of “sugar pacing”, to prevent the crab tree effect.

To prevent your yeast from passing out on the job, gradually add the normal amount of sugar over the course of three days. This allows the yeast the chance to keep up with the amount of glucose present in the nutrient solution.

Note: all measurements based on 1 cup of sugar per gallon of tea solution (if making 2 gallons at a time simply double the amount, etc).

* Day 1 – add 1/8th of a cup of the sugar
* Day 2 – add 2/8th of a cup of sugar
* Day 3 – add 3/8th of a cup of sugar
* Day 4 – add the remaining 2/8th of a cup of sugar

Keep the temperature in warmer 75 to 85 Fahrenheit temperature range. We recommend using our kombucha heat mat especially during winter months to achieve this.

Kombucha Baby

Kombucha Baby


Ahhh, the joy of experimenting! Simply get two separate jars, and label one “Decrease Yeast” and the other “Increase Yeast”.. (well you can also name them Charlie and Henry, but you get the idea).

Then follow the suggestions on each separate jar and run your own experiment.

If you want extra bonus points (and be the new celebrated member of our kombucha komunity)… why not pot your results in the comment section below so that you can help others!

Also if you need to pick up some cultures or grab some any one, tow, or ten of our amazingly (yes, that’s a word), huge selection of tea… feel free to check out our Kombucha Tea and Kombucha Cultures.


13 Responses to “The Great Kombuca Balancing Act”

  1. marie Bohanan Says:

    Always enjoy reading your news…creative writer. i get your kombucha from Whole Foods, when I can.

  2. Gene Says:

    Hey, I have been consistently “continuous brewing” kombucha @ about 3% alcohol! I want to get it down to .05%.
    What do I need to do????????
    Tried cutting the sugar with no success.
    Please Help Dave!!

    ======= GETKOMBUCHA RESPONSE =======

    Decrease your Yeast to Bacteria Ratio …. How? Funny you should ask.. I just wrote an article about it on this blog 🙂


  3. Gail Wartell Says:

    Thanks! Recently having issues in crocks that were very happy for a long time. Now I have something to go on. Especially interesting to use the top culture when splitting- I thought it didn’t matter and used whatever didn’t look disgusting. Brewing slowly these days. I can’t wait for spring.

  4. Linda Says:

    I’ve been brewing for over a year now. I had my continuous brew at a great taste – consistently. I was doing one continuous brew and one batch. I decided to stop the batch as I just had too much K-tea. I decided to squeeze the liquid from my old mushroom into my brew. It totally changed the taste and I eventually had to start over from an old scoby I had stored. It has taken some time to get back to the taste I had previously. So I wonder about squeezing out a scoby.
    Your experience and willingness to share is phenomenal! I haven’t found any k-tea site like yours and I have looked at many a youtube video and checked out other sites. Since I have all my equipment and it doesn’t wear out I just buy my tea from you.
    I have a neighbor who is ill and to get enough energy in the morning was drinking close to 10 cups of strong coffee. You can imagine how his physical self was suffering in addition to his illness. I started giving him k-tea and suggested he use that for his energy needs. He stopped the coffee and drinks k-tea instead. Great testimonial to the benefit of k-tea.
    Keep putting yourself out there and being authentic. I believe our need for community will grow as we move through the next years and your site is community building.

  5. Linda Says:

    Everybody’s tea is sluggish except mine, I guess. I have all I can do to get it to go 3 whole days. I am wondering about the ratio of yeast to bact. I added a little more sugar because it tasted too vinegary. My culture has always been one. It doesn’t seem to get bigger, however it ferments fast, so I thought it was ok. What you think, anybody?

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Get Kombucha, Dave Lindenbaum. Dave Lindenbaum said: Fresh Kombucha Post: The Great Kombuca Balancing Act – This article will help answer many kombucha troubleshooting q… […]

  7. Nadine Says:

    Dave or others out there that can help:
    I have been very frustrated with my brewing. I have just brewed 2 batches since buying the kit from you and I have added the heat mat. It ferments but it tastes sweet. And the PH doesn’t get low. A new culture did start on the first batch but now on the second it has not after over 3 weeks of brewing and there are a lot of yeast strands. I don’t like the sweet taste however now it is getting a slight vinegar taste.
    At this point I am not sure what to do. Should I start all over with the original scoby and starter tea from purchased Kombucha?
    thanks for your help.

  8. betty carpenter Says:

    dave, i was happy to come upon “the great kombucha balancing act” as i suspected something wasn’t right with my brew. i started brewing because of stomach problems 3 yrs. ago & the results have been spectacular. lately tho, i have had to resort back to taking hydrocloric acid. i have read the article several times & just get confused (82 yrs old). can you condense or simplfy the directions for me, without choices. betty

  9. Linda Says:

    My culture has not grown much. It is one and after 6 mos of brewing it is still not quite a half inch thick. The top is old, bumpy and dry cause it sticks out of the liquid. The bottom is slimy with a slippery layer with holes in it of gooey brown stuff which I assumed was the yeast. I believe I should cut it but I thought I was not supposed to in the winter time. It’s diameter size is like a cereal bowl. Is it ok to cut it in half? I can’t take the top layer off cause it tears or should I take a knife and cut it lengthwise? That would be hard cause it isn’t very thick. Should I just get a new one? It brews every three days.

  10. Linda Says:

    Additional info. btw, I have watched the longevity dvd several times. I keep wanting to trim the scoby but am afraid to because it doesn’t grow as it is. The brew tastes good. It is now in a new batch and it has lots of bubbles on top surrounding it. Is that an indication that it has plenty of bacteria? So would the size of my scoby for 6 mo. be normal?

  11. gary Says:

    Home brewer here, w/ questions on the balancing act experiment, which I am in the middle of – under the subsection “Growing a Huge Culture”, the instructions don’t clearly say whether a SCOBY should be placed in the fermenting container – I take a fresh fermented batch, put it in another clean container, and allow it to ferment another 3 weeks – with the SCOBY? Then, after 3 weeks, discard any new SCOBY, filter the brew, clean the container, and go another 2 weeks – again, w/ the same SCOBY? Am I basically allowing one SCOBY to grow for more weeks than usual, while decreasing the yeast every few weeks? My experiment is 10 days old (doing both, as suggested, one to increase bacteria and one to increase yeast), and soon I will need an answer to these questions. Can’t wait to hear back, and thanks for all the advice.

  12. shokuh Says:

    Hello. I wish you are good and healthy. Excuse me I have a question about kombucha.I have kombucha mushrum and I produce that juice but i don`t know if I want to keep this juice longer what should I do? because as you know this juice after times and 10 days become acidic. For solve this problem what should I do?plz help me.I mailed you from Iran and I love to increase this amazing mushrum.i want to increase my production industrialy.before your helping I will thank you.

  13. Alice Says:

    Thank you for this!!! It took me a week of searching to figure out why my cultures from my farm werent producing babies…and weak ferments. This was perfect!

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