Taking a Break from Brewing Kombucha

Here’s how to take a break from brewing kombucha without killing your SCOBY, from short pauses to long term breaks (+ how to make a SCOBY hotel).

Anyone who has been brewing kombucha for time will agree…our kombucha SCOBY becomes a bit like a pet. We love it, we nurture it, we might even name it (πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ).

So what can you do to make sure Peggy (err…your SCOBY) doesn’t die while you’re on vacation? Here’s how to take a break from brewing kombucha without killing your SCOBY so she’ll live for years to come!

Brewing kombucha in a closet

Storing a SCOBY between brews (1 week)

Let’s say you bottled your first fermentation kombucha, but you don’t have time to start your next first fermentation batch. You’ll need to make sure your SCOBY is stored properly until you have a chance to start your next batch.

Fortunately, this is super easy – just leave it. Leave your SCOBY and some first fermentation kombucha (i.e. your starter for the next batch) in the jar at room temperature for up to a week. (Learn the best places to store kombucha).

Short term SCOBY storage (2 to 6 weeks)

So you’re going on vacation for a few weeks and don’t want your SCOBY to die while you’re gone. For taking breaks up to 6 weeks, just feed it and leave it.

A normal first fermentation can run for 4 weeks (if the temperature is not too warm), but this can be extended to 6 weeks if needed. Start a new batch of first fermentation right before you go, which will provide enough food and nutrients for the SCOBY to eat while you’re gone.

After 6 weeks, the resulting liquid will be very acidic and vinegar tasting, but this acidity is what will protect the SCOBY from mold. Either discard the liquid or use it as a vinegar in cooking (and of course, keep some to use as a powerful starter for your next batch).

Long term SCOBY storage (6 to 12 weeks)

For taking brewing breaks longer than 6 weeks, your SCOBY is going to want occasional feedings. Brew a fresh batch of first fermentation kombucha as you would with short term SCOBY storage.

Every 6 weeks or so, drain off some of the acidic liquid and replace it with an equal amount of sweet tea (the same ratios of sugar and tea that we use in the master kombucha recipe).

If you are pressed for time, you can add just plain sugar (1 cup per gallon of kombucha), but this should only be done as a last resort, as the kombucha needs nutrients in the tea as well.

If possible, store the kombucha somewhere on the cool side for long term storage, 60-65Β°F (16-18Β°C). This will slow fermentation and allow you to stretch the time between feedings, while keeping the kombucha in a safe temperature range.

Kombucha on a counter covered with a cloth

How to Make a SCOBY Hotel

You may find yourself with more SCOBYs than you can use at once. In this case, you might want to set up a SCOBY hotel.

As the name suggests, a SCOBY hotel is just a jar your extra SCOBYs can hangout until you’re ready to use them.

To make a SCOBY hotel, brew a fresh batch of first fermentation kombucha (with the same ratios of sugar, tea, and starter kombucha as in our master recipe). Cover the SCOBY hotel with a breathable cloth (no lid), then just add SCOBYs to the jar whenever you have extras. Every 4 to 6 weeks, drain off some of the liquid in the SCOBY hotel and replace it with sweetened tea so the SCOBYs can continue to have food and nutrients.

When you’re ready to use a SCOBY from the hotel, simply pluck it from the hotel (along with some of the powerful liquid it’s sitting in, which can be used as a starter). Get the full guide to SCOBY hotels here.

SCOBY hotel
Thanks to our Eatmail subscribers for providing photos of their SCOBY hotels!

Things to never do when storing a kombucha SCOBY

While taking a break from brewing kombucha is easy, there are two things you should make sure don’t happen:

  1. Do not refrigerate your SCOBY. Cold temperature greatly increase the chance of mold and will do more harm than good.
  2. Do not let your SCOBY climb out. Sometimes SCOBYs like to climb up the jar and out of the liquid. If this happens, just swirl it back into the liquid so that it remains in contact with the acidic kombucha. This is its natural protection from mold!

To dehydrate or not?

While some brewers have success dehydrating SCOBYs for long (loooong) term storage, I don’t recommend this. It has a high failure rate and is often more effort than it’s worth.

If you’re taking an extended break, just bottle some strong kombucha from a first fermentation and store it in the fridge. Kombucha (without a SCOBY) will last for many months in the fridge.

When you’re ready to brew again, you’ll have a powerful starter to grow a new SCOBY from.

kombucha scoby on a plate

36 thoughts on “Taking a Break from Brewing Kombucha”

  1. Oh my…I had a HUGE Scoby in my jar when I bottled yesterday! (about an inch thick) I sure wish I had known that I could put her in a hotel!
    I tore off a slab for my new jar and geave the rest to my chickens. Next time I’ll try this.

    Reply
  2. Hi Sarah. I did too many bottle of kombucha and I looked it up on uncle Googs (that what i call Google) on how to take a break and I followed (I dont no who) and that was to make a new batch, which was not to fill my jar, but just to feed my scoby then put cheese cloth over the top and put an air tight lid on it. This was for about 4 to 5 weeks and when I was ready to do a new batch, took it out and started again. Turned out as if I never had a break. Just thought I would share this with you.
    ps. It was summer at the time.

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  3. I’ve been putting my scoby in the frig, but have not seen mold.. however, when I first got my scoby from my friend in Istanbul (it was in her frig), my kombucha had the familiar taste, but, with each batch it got milder and milder and now has hardly any of the familiar flavor, although it gets very fizzy. Any way to get the magic back? πŸ™

    Reply
    • Hmm that’s strange! Perhaps use a bit more starter kombucha to give it more fermenting power, along with a few more tea bags to strengthen the flavor. The fizz is a good sign though – clearly something is happening in there! And I’m not sure if you’re storing it in the fridge currently, but definitely take it out if you are and let it ferment at room temp.

  4. Scooby loves to be fed every seven days. Then I use pineapple pieces to second ferment one to two days on the shelf in the laundry closet. The fizzy is off the charts. When I’m ready for some boocha I just dump a bottle into a quart jar and add a straw. Yummylicious. Love those pineapple tidbits too. Thanks for your free pdf, it really helped take it to the next level. Now this info will be very good as the whole covid thingy has Alaskans running off with everything at Wallies as though they’re not getting anymore. Bout to run out of sugar. Boo

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  5. Hi there and Happy Monday to you : )

    I was gifted a scoby about 3 weeks ago now and its just been sitting in my pantry since then waiting for me to take action. It’s just had a coffee filter sitting over the jar top fixed with a rubber band.
    Do you think I might have to start over? I know it’s probably hard to tell without a photo.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    • So fun that you got 3 new babies! They should be just fine to use. You can start on the first fermentation πŸ˜€

  6. Thank you for this! I started brewing in June and have done probably 4 really successful brews from your guide (amazing!!) but it’s nice to see that just how I’m doing it she can probably last a bit longer between brews so I don’t feel as rushed.

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  7. I was just gifted a scoby a little over a week ago and the indivdual who brought it to me put it in the fridge…. its been in there since because I am just now looking into how to begin my first batch. Should I take this out of the fridge at this point? Also, I think the person told me I have a momma scoby and a baby scoby in this jar… what do I do with two? I am brand new at this obviously.. lol any help would be very much appreciated πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Yep, take them out of the fridge and start brewing with them! I would throw both into the same jar and use them together until you get the hang of brewing (then you can separate them into two jars to have two batches going at once).

  8. Hi, do I throw away the mother scoby as it get too thick and look dirty. It had been used to ferment a couple times.
    Can I separate the baby from the mother and just use the baby scoby for next fermentation?
    Thank you so so much fir your advice.

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  9. I have not been having luck with my 1st batch or even my hotel. Mold has been growing in the past 3 batches. I just added brew tea and sugar to the hotel 7 cup of tea 1 cup of sugar. Temp was fine but I see black mold growing? I had about 3-4 inches of scoby. If I have to chuck it out can I keep the scobies?? HELP

    Reply
    • If there is mold you’ll unfortunately need to throw away everything, SCOBY included. Clean your supplies very very well then try again. Just to be sure, I would add extra starter kombucha (unflavored kombucha) to your next batch to get the acidity high. Acidity will help prevent mold!

  10. My Scoby has got so big and fast, it won’t fit out through the mouth of the jar. I usually take it out to get the liquid out. It’s so think I couldn’t even separate it. Will I damage her if I tear or cut her?

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  11. Hi,

    I made some Scoby’s from store bought quality kombucha last year. Then I stored them in small ‘baggies’ with a little bit of liquid. They were probably stored for around… 5 or 5 and a half months like that. The other day I made a big batch of sweet tea and poured it into a large mason jar, along with the scobys and their starter liquid. They didn’t look mouldy or anything. I wonder if they were dead though?

    Anyway a thin layer of scoby started to form on the top of the tea in the jar, and the old scobys stayed at the bottom. I decanted about 600mls of the stuff off a couple of days ago and it is now undergoing its second ferment. It tasted quite vinegary, and also quite sweet still, after 2 weeks of ‘primary’ fermantation. Do you think it’s OK that I used these ‘old’ scobies like this? I haven’t had any bad reactions from drinking the fresh kombucha, although I msut say I’ve not drunk much of it.

    I can keep you updated on how things go, if you wish. Might throw some light on storing options for scobys.

    Best wishes,

    Charlie

    Reply
  12. Oh boy, I’m learning a lot of things I didn’t know when I made my first batch. I have my scobies in two mason jars in my cabinet with lids on. It’s been 3 months 😳 Do you think they’re okay to use again? I didn’t know I had to feed them 😭

    Reply
  13. After leaving the tea in the first fermentation way too long, would you recommend that I start a new batch with some of that (overly vinegary) first fermentation tea as starter tea, or should I add some new store-bought raw kombucha to add as the starter?

    Reply
  14. Hi, I’ve taken a break from my brewing as I had sooo much, I’ve stored the bottles of brew in cool place, will they be ok to drink now, maybe 6months later. Also I haven’t fed my scoby, she’s just been in what tea was left. Could I start her up again? She looks clean, soft, no mould.

    Reply
    • They may be too tart to drink, but they should be safe to drink if that’s the question! And SCOBY should be fine to use again πŸ˜€

  15. Hi! So grateful to find this website. I took a looong break from brewing kombucha, and I’ve stored all my SCOBY in the fridge for several months now. I’d never have problems brewing with the SCOBY taken from the fridge before, but maybe this time I’ve left them in there too long, the new batch I made doesn’t have baby scoby formed on top after 14 days. There’s no mold or anything and it smells just like kombucha. What should I do to
    revive my scoby? and what should I do with this batch of kombucha?

    Reply
  16. I’ve left my scoby for a long time – maybe 6 months or more – it looks dormant and healthy. I made the scoby like I was going to make kombucha and then just left it all this time. Can I just revive it like it’s in a scoby hotel? Can I use the super acidic kombucha it’s been sitting in?

    Reply

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