Is this mold?
This by far is the most frequently asked question that we receive. We get it. Home brewing can be scary. The idea of having something rot on your counter can take a bit of getting used to. Good news is that it's actually pretty difficult to screw up a batch.. Especially if you follow these simple rules.
The Tea. Organic green and/or black tea is best. Bonus points for being fair trade. We love Chai Baba's Sencha Green and Black Assam. We prefer loose leaf but you can make some pretty delicious brews with tea bags too.
The Sugar. We prefer organic cane sugar. It's best to be consistent with the type of sugar used as changes in the brewing environment can be shocking for the scoby and cause it to react adversely.
The Tools. Metal utensils, 4L food grade brewing vessel, rubber band, cotton/non-porous cloth. Don't use cheesecloth as we don't want to risk a curious fruit fly finding their way into our booch. And most importantly sanitize and rinse everything with vinegar. Stray away from scented anti-bacterial soaps.
We trust you.
Anytime you question the quality or safety of your brew it's best to trust your 'gut' instinct. When in doubt, throw it out. Sometime when a new culture is forming or a mature scoby is growing, its appearance can begin to look a little bit gnarly.. You may see bubbles, dark spots or even dark brown or green dangly legs from the underside of your scoby. Unless you've strayed far from the rules, it's probably okay in most cases. Below are some photos of happy, healthy scobies. Keep in mind there are many variations that are not captured in these pictures.
Mold is pretty easy to identify. It's green, it's furry and often starts off like small spots that begin to multiply or get larger. It most always happens on the surface and occurs when your booch has been exposed to bad bacteria or an unhealthy environment. If you see anything that resembles the photos below, it's best to dispose of your scoby and the contents of your jar and start over. Never compromise your health for something that you are unsure of.
We recently had a home brewer show us a photo of a batch during the second fermentation process that had gone moldy. Rather than using an air tight lid, they had used saran wrap instead. Despite being first time brewers, they knew right away that something wasn't right. It was a simple mistake that cost a batch. So if you are unsure just give us a holler. We are always happy to help out and we love hearing your questions and concerns.
Happy brewing lovelies!
Peace & Love,