Mold and Kombucha: Is it Mold? How Can You Avoid It?

mold and kombucha

There’s a 4 letter word that you never want to hear when making your own kombucha… MOLD!

This is probably one of the most common questions that new brewers have during the first fermentation process. But, to be honest, I would venture to say that more often than not, it’s not mold. This is especially true if you use the right equipment and kombucha brewing process.

With that said, it is certainly possible and it does happen. Let’s go through how to tell if it’s mold, what to do if it is mold, and how you can prevent it from happening in the first place.

What Does Mold On Kombucha Look Like? How Can You Tell If It’s Mold?

There are three things that I generally keep an eye on when seeing if it is mold or not.

Mold can take on many forms, but it’s no different than the mold you may find on old bread or cheese.

1) Is the mold on top of the SCOBY?

First and foremost, mold can only be on top of your SCOBY. It will never be in it or below it.

2) Is it fuzzy?

The second thing to look at is if it’s fuzzy or not. You can take a finger across the suspected mold (after washing your hands) and feel it. If it is fuzzy, it’s probably mold. If it is slimy and smooth, you should be in the clear.

3) What color is it?

If it’s green, blue, black, or any variation in between, there is a good chance it is mold.

When Can Your Kombucha Grow Mold?

The first fermentation is really the only time when mold growth in your brew is possible. This is the time when your SCOBY is trying to develop.

If you just started the brew and you see white things floating or stringy bits, there is usually no reason to be alarmed. It’s most likely that your SCOBY is trying to form.

If you’ve gone far enough in the brewing process to want to bottle it, you’ve probably passed the point of it developing mold. This is because the pH of the kombucha has fallen low enough that bacteria and harmful germs will be unable to survive in it.

What Can You Do If Your Kombucha Has Mold? Can Kombucha Be Saved if it Has Mold?

If your kombucha has mold, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to save it. You need to throw out the entire bottle (SCOBY and liquid included), correctly sanitize your brewing vessel, and start again.

Why Did Your Kombucha Grow Mold?

There could be a few different reasons that your SCOBY grew mold. This includes lack of proper airflow, the cloth lid not being tight enough, or having the wrong type of cloth in the first place.

It didn’t get enough airflow

Your SCOBY needs airflow to thrive. If you put it in a closed area, it won’t get the oxygen it needs and it could cause mold to form.

Your cloth isn’t tight enough

If you placed a cloth over your brew but didn’t put a tight rubber band around it, dust and other contaminants could easily get into your brew, which could cause mold.

You used the wrong type of cloth

Never use a cloth with large holes (say no to cheesecloths!). It should be breathable, but you don’t want the holes large enough where dust and other junk can get into it.

How Can You Prevent Mold From Growing On Kombucha?

Brew in a clean environment

This probably goes without saying, but you want to make sure that everything that comes into contact with your kombucha is clean. This includes your brewing vessel, any tools you use, and your hands.

Use a tight-fitting cloth

As I mentioned earlier, you want to make sure that the cloth you use to cover your brew is breathable but also tight-fitting. This will help to keep dust and other contaminants out.

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Keep it in a warm spot

Your kombucha needs to be in a warm spot during the brewing process. If it’s too cold, the fermentation process will take longer, and it could lead to mold growth.

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Ensure a low pH

A low pH is generally unfavorable for mold. The kombucha brew often starts at or below 4.5, and kombucha is considered finished between 2.5 and 3.5 pH. In general, it is difficult for mold to grow where pH is lower than 3.5.

As long as you start with the proper amount of acidic starter liquid (previously brewed kombucha), you should be fine.

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Can You Drink Kombucha With Mold?

No, you can’t drink kombucha with mold.

I mean, you could, but I would highly advise against it unless you want to get very sick.

If your kombucha forms mold, throw it out and start again.

About The Author

Picture of Stephen aka “Kombucha Coach”

Stephen aka “Kombucha Coach”

My goal with Kombucha Coach is to help teach people about kombucha and start their journey into home brewing it themselves.