Manchurian Mushroom COLONY Also Known as Kombucha Colony Or Scoby

0 Where can I get a Kombucha Culture/Colony? [Here on the page left side Buy Button]

1  Can I ferment Kombucha without adding a colony, by using only fresh Kombucha tea?

1 Scoby

2 Will a Manchurian Mushroom form in a bottle of Kombucha Tea?

3 Does environment have an effect on growing Kombucha colonies?

4 How do I store a Manchurian Mushroom between

5 Can I use more than one Manchurian Mushroom in a fermenting tea?

2 Scoby

6 Can I cut up a large Manchurian Mushroom into smaller pieces?

7 Why is the Kombucha often called a fungus or Manchurian mushroom?

8 Do I put the shiny side up to produce a new Manchurian Mushroom?

9 What can I do with my left over Kombucha that I can't give away?

10 Is it possible for Kombucha to grow within the intestine?

11 How long can one use the parent Kombucha before discarding?

12 What do I do if I get mold in my Kombucha colony?

13 Does the Kombucha have to lay flat in the fermenting container?

14 Can you propagate the same Kombucha colony indefinitely?

15 What do I do if the Kombucha colony is too big to fit in the growing container?

16 Does the parent Kombucha have to float before it forms a new one?

17 Does the Kombucha colony need air?

18 My week old refrigerated colony--in a Ziplock bag-- smells of vinegar, is it all right?

19 Will the yeast in the colony die if left unrefrigerated for long periods of time?

20 Is it all right to rinse off the Kombucha colony with tap water?

21 How do I prevent contaminating the Kombucha?

22 Can you freeze the Kombucha colony?

23 What should I keep, the mother or baby Kombucha colony?

24 Will holes or thin spots affect the Kombucha colony?

25 How do I mail a Kombucha colony?

26 If a Kombucha colony doesn't float, should it be thrown out?

27 Is it safe to use a moldy Kombucha colony?

28 If mold developed while fermenting Kombucha, what would it look like?

29 What are the most common types of molds found on Kombucha?

30 What can I do to help prevent mold growth?

31 What are the names of molds and where are they found?

32 Will the acids in KT give protection from molds when exposed to tobacco smoke?

33 What is the URL for Michael Roussin's Kombucha Research Home Page?

34    Where did Kombucha originate?


1 Can I ferment a Manchurian Mushroom without adding a colony, by using only fresh Kombucha tea?

Yes, you can.

  • Boil 96 ounces water, plus 2 cups extra to allow for evaporation during the 5 minute boiling period. Cover with a lid while boiling. After 5 minutes remove cover and add 1 cup of white sugar. [use measuring cup]
  • Remove pot from heat add 5 -6 regular size tea bags--or the equivalent amount of loose tea--in a tea-ball or tea holder. You can use either black tea, green tea, or oolong tea or a combination of teas. Re-cover the pot and let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bags.
  • Cover and let the tea solution cool to room temperature, then pour into a clean container that will hold 6 quarts/liters liquid . To hasten cooling, fill the kitchen sink with cold tap water, and set in the covered pot of tea solution until cool.
  • When cool add 32 ounces (4 cups) of fermented Manchurian Mushroom Tea to the solution in the container.
  • Cover the jar with an unbleached paper coffee filter, unbleached paper towel, or tightly woven cloth, held up close to the jar with an elastic band. Mark the date on a piece of tape and stick to side of the jar. [Do not cover with a solid lid because air is needed]
  • Place the jar in a warm smoke-free environment out of direct sunlight and leave undisturbed for 10-14 days or until the newly formed  colony is Manchurian Mushroom ready to harvest.

*To ferment a smaller amount of , use a ra Manchurian Mushroom tio of 1:3 [1 part fermented KT starter, to 3 parts prepared nutrient solution].
*The ratio to use for nutrient solution per quart is:  1/3 cup sugar, 2 tea bags, 1 quart water.

2 Will a Manchurian Mushroom colony form in a bottle of Manchurian Mushroom Tea?

Yes it is possible while there is oxygen and some sugar for food.

3 Does environment have an effect on growing Manchurian Mushroom colony?Scoby

You can ferment Manchurian Mushroom in a dark or in a light place.  

4 How do I store a Manchurian Mushroom between batches?

It is best to store a Manchurian Mushroom in a covered glass bowl with some fermented tea added. Be sure the cover will allow air to reach the colony.

5 Can I use more than one Manchurian Mushroom in a fermenting tea?

If you have a large container there is no problem with putting in more than one colony. Many people don't separate the colonies but just let them stack up in the fermenting vessel, while periodically removing the oldest one from the bottom of the stack. However, a single colony is sufficient to ferment Kombucha, additional colonies will just take up volume in your container.

6 Can I cut up a large Manchurian Mushroom into smaller pieces?

Yes. Because of the acidic nature of the colony, using metal may turn the cut edges black, so be sure to use a stainless steel knife or scissors.

7 Why is the Kombucha often called a fungus or Manchurian mushroom?

There are many names for Kombucha, both common and scientific; however, there seems to be little agreement among consumers as to what to officially call it. The colony is composed of yeasts (which are fungi) and bacteria. While the term mushroom is very misleading, people have "nick-named" it that because of the way it grows.

8 Do I put the shiny side up to produce a new Kombucha?

It doesn't matter which side is up. A new colony will form on the surface regardless of where the "mother" colony is situated in the container.

9 What can I do with my left over Kombucha that I can't give away?

If you have extra colonies you can't give away, put them into a blender with some fermented Kombucha Tea and pulverize them into a cream. This cream can be used on the face as a skin cleanser, or, when put on abrasions, it seems to help them heal faster. You can also toss them into your compost bin for use in your garden.

10 Is it possible for Kombucha to grow within the intestine?

No. Although Acetobacter (the main bacteria in Kombucha) often comes in contact with humans--due to its widespread presence in the environment--it does not colonize human skin nor does it inhabit the human body. The optimum temperature for the growth of Acetobacter is below that of the human body.

11 How long can one use the parent Kombucha before discarding?

You can use the parent for three or four months with no problems.

12 What do I do if I get mold in my Kombucha colony?

Some say you can wash the mold off the Kombucha with vinegar, but I would advise that for safety's sake you throw out this batch of fermented tea as well as the Kombucha colony and start again with another Kombucha. Always add a 10% solution of ready fermented Kombucha Tea to each new batch you start. This is done to acidify the fermenting solution at the very start--to deter mold growth.


13 Does the Kombucha have to lay flat in the fermenting container?

No. Sometimes it grows on its side, sitting on the bottom, or floating halfway up in the container. It doesn't make any difference. A new colony will form on the surface no matter where the old one is situated.

14 Can you propagate the same Kombucha colony indefinitely?Scoby

Although the original Kombucha will eventually wear out from age and use, it can be used repeatedly for quite a few months--as long as it remains in healthy condition. The life-span of a particular colony probably varies with use and feed-stock as well as growing environment, etc.

15 What do I do if the Kombucha colony is too big to fit in the growing container?

Just trim it to fit the new container using a sharp stainless steel blade.

16 Does the parent Kombucha have to float before it forms a new one?

There is not much difference whether the Kombucha colonies float or sink. Its density is close to that of water or a little heavier, so when undisturbed, the gas out of fermentation will keep it afloat on or near the surface until someone disturbs it and releases the bubbles underneath, then it will sink. A new Kombucha will start on the surface whether or not the parent is floating or has sunk.

17 Does the Kombucha colony need air?

Yes. The bacteria and yeast which make up Kombucha are aerobic.

18 My week old refrigerated colony-Scoby-in a zip-lock bag-- smells like vinegar, is it all right?

Yes. However, it has recently been established by lab tests conducted by the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™, that some plastic components in Ziplock bags will be leached into the contents of the bag during long-term storage.

19 Will the yeast in the Kombucha colony die if left unrefrigerated for long periods of time?

The following advice is provided by Carl Mueller, a former member of the Kombucha mailing list. "I state the following based on my knowledge and experience brewing wine and beer. I feel that this is applicable here because a lot of what has been previously stated i.e., sterility, alcohol production, etc., are the same. Yeast will die in a fermented liquid after the food source has been exhausted--a process known as drying out. Yeast is also killed from long term exposure to alcohol, although the amount we make in the tea in small. When a batch is allowed to stand at room temperature for long periods of time all the food sources for the microbes are used up, and some will die, others may go into a suspended state in a cyst and survive, which ones I don't know, and from what I have seen stated, I wonder if anyone else might know.

Allowing the tea to stand for long period of time causes another phenomenon to occur, and that is oxidation. This occurs in wines when the surface boundary of CO2 dissipates, and oxygen is absorbed. While the yeasts are active this is constantly produced, keeping the oxygen out. I keep hearing everyone refer to the colony breathing, but what is taking place, is the release of pressure from CO2 production. If it isn't released the container will rupture. Oxidation will cause an off-flavor to occur in the tea as oxygen reacts with the alcohol that is present."

20 Is it all right to rinse off the Kombucha colony with tap water?

No. Chlorine can cause damage to the Kombucha colony. The best way to clean your colony (to remove the brown stringy yeast etc.,) is to simply bathe it in some of the kombucha ferment it came out of. This practice will also serve to maintain the pH of the colony. Washing it in water--even cooled, boiled water, could change the pH and make it susceptible to mold growth.

21 How do I prevent contaminating the Kombucha?Scoby

Be sure to thoroughly clean your hands (or use latex gloves) and the equipment used in fermenting the colony. This is very important.

22 Can you freeze the Kombucha colony?


By Günther W. Frank , author of the book, Kombucha - Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East ISBN 3-85068-337-0

One is also often advised to deep-freeze the culture in the freezer during a break in production, together with a little of the ready-fermented beverage. To do this, the culture can be heat-sealed into a freezer bag or else put into a screw-top jar. When using screw-top jars, they should be left open at first so that they won't burst, and the lids only screwed on tight once the culture has been shock-frozen. The lids should be removed again before thawing, so that a vacuum does not form above the liquid.

Prof. Dittrich (1975, p. 70) writes about the influence of cold on the general development of micro-organisms: "Compared with heat, it is virtually ineffectual. Reproduction is certainly very much slowed down by low temperatures, but death by freezing is hardly possible. This is of course in line with natural conditions, for whereas boiling heat hardly ever occurs, freezing of the substrate containing bacteria (e.g. earth) for months on end is the rule, even in our latitudes."

Prof. Henneberg (1926, Vol. 1, p. 6) confirms this: "In general, cold does not kill fungi. Bacteria, yeasts, mold spores can remain viable in ice for a long time. Even a temperature of - 113 Centigrade (about 235 Fahrenheit) does not kill yeasts."

In my opinion, one has to be careful when freezing the culture that it does not suffer any damage due to the freezing process. If the temperature sink so slowly during freezing that the culture remains for a very long time in the critical zone of 0 Centigrade to -5 Centigrade (32 to 41 Fahrenheit), this can damage it. This temperature range is critical because long sharp ice crystals slowly form during this time, and they destroy the cell walls. Crystals need time to grow. If they are not given this time, they cannot form. So it all depends on the culture being frozen to sleep very quickly - if possible, shock-frozen. It may therefore be advisable to turn on the fast-freeze equipment or flick the super-frost switch and get the temperature right down ready before you put the culture in. Because of the speed of freezing and the intense cold, the critical zone of low temperature is passed through so quickly that large ice-crystals with their dangerous sharp edges and points cannot form. Rather, only small crystals develop which cannot injure the cell walls and the structure of the culture.

When thawing out the culture, the block of ice should be laid in fresh nutrient solution. In my experiments with frozen Kombucha cultures I have observed the following (the cultures were frozen from 8 days to 3 months): At first the cultures lay as if dead on the bottom of the fermentation container, and I thought they had frozen to death. Then little bubbles gradually began to rise - sign that the yeasts were beginning to work and that carbonic acid was being produced. Only after some delay - about 14 days after thawing out the culture - could I observe a thin skin beginning to form on the surface of the tea. This told me that now the bacteria had taken up their production of cellulose, from which the skin is formed. After a little while a beautiful culture had formed again, although it seemed to me to be rather more jelly-like than usual. These processes happened much more quickly in control glasses.

For a long time I could not explain the reason for this delayed development, and wondered whether some of the micro-organisms had not been destroyed or damaged by the freezing process after all, and the remaining bacteria and yeasts must first build themselves up again. Then I came across the following statement in Dr. Helga Schroeder's book "Mikrobiologisches Praktikum" (Microbiological Practice - 1975), which could account for my observations: "If a nutrient solution is inoculated with bacteria, then growth does not begin in the 'typical' exponential way, but goes through a more or less marked phase of delay. This initial phase is called the latent period. The length of time it takes is influenced among other things by the age of the inoculum (Note: the substance which is added; old cells go through a long latent period) and by the composition of the milieu (when the composition of the nutrient solution in which the inoculum is cultivated and the one which is to be inoculated is the same, the latent period is shortened)."

The above-mentioned exponential growth means the phase during which the bacteria divide so quickly and so well that at certain intervals a doubling of the number of organisms takes place: one bacterium divides, and two cells are formed. They grow and divide in their turn, so that after the second division there are four cells. The number of cells are therefore doubled at every division. This system of constant doubling causes the quickest growth and in all cultures only lasts for a short time. We should otherwise soon be up to the ears in Kombucha culture.

I suspect that the micro-organisms need the long starting phase, as explained above, because of the complete contrast of the change in their living conditions. This should be understood, and concessions made for the culture if you think it should be frozen. Some people have even thrown the culture away because they thought it was dead after they had thawed it out.

Enjoy your Kombucha!

Greetings from Germany,


23 What should I keep, the mother or baby Kombucha colony?Scoby

It doesn't matter. There is no advantage to using one or the other. Each will produce a new colony when put into a feeding solution.

24 Will holes or thin spots affect the Kombucha Scoby?

No. Thin spots or holes or if the parent colony tears while being separated from the baby, doesn't mean there is a problem with the Kombucha. However, if the colony smells "off," and tears or falls apart very easily, throw it out and use a different one in your next batch.

25 How do I mail a Kombucha Scoby?

Günther W. Frank, author of Kombucha-Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East, suggests the following method: "I mail Kombucha colonies like this: I put the colony, including about 9 ounces of ready fermented beverage (very important!) in a plastic bag--like one use for deep freezing food in a deep-freeze. Then I seal the bag with a bag sealer. This bag I put into another bag, which I seal again. So it is double sealed. For mailing, I put the double sealed bag into a box and fill the inner space with Styrofoam flocs. Thus, I send colonies round the whole world, and they all arrived in good condition."

26 If a Kombucha colony doesn't float, should it be thrown out?

John A. (Jack) Barclay -- a member of the Kombucha mailing list, stated the following : "Someone was told that if the Kombucha colony doesn't float to the top within a day or two, it should be thrown out. Not so. Whether the Kombucha floats or sinks or rests somewhere in the middle is a function of the density of the Kombucha compared to the density of the liquid. The density is affected by the amount and kind of sugar, temperature, water hardness, kind of tea etc. Each Kombucha will be slightly different in density depending on where and how it was grown and how dense the cellulose matrix is and the number and size of air pockets in the matrix. Which normally can't be seen with the naked eye, but affect whether the Kombucha colony sinks or floats. It has often been recommended that if one can't figure out where the new Kombucha is when looking at it, weigh the mother Kombucha to the bottom and the one that forms at the surface is the obvious offspring."

27 Is it safe to use a moldy Kombucha?

Absolutely not! Do not try to salvage a moldy colony, throw it out along with the tea it was growing in. Chances are very good that the mold has already infiltrated into the colony itself. Sterilize the equipment and start over with a Kombucha colony from another source. throw it out

28 If mold developed while fermenting Kombucha, what would it look like?

Mold is usually hairy or fuzzy looking--like the mold on cheese, bread, or fruit--and can be either black, green, yellow, gray, or white and usually grows in circular patches. throw it out


29 What are the most common molds found on Kombucha?

According to Michael R. Roussin, Director of the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™ "the two molds which are found most often to be growing on Kombucha are: "Penicillium notatum," and "Aspergillus niger."

30 What can I do to help prevent mold growth?

Here are some possible causes and prevention tips posted over the Kombucha Mailing List by Ariana Estelle-- Author of the kombucha booklet, Kombucha 101-A Kombucha Primer.

CLEANLINESS is of utmost importance

  • A good rule of thumb is to use the same hygiene you would use when preparing formula for a newborn baby. Make sure all of your utensils and the work area have been washed with hot soapy water and rinsed well. If you have a dishwasher, this will make your job a lot easier. If you (women) have acrylic nails or overlays, it would be a good idea to wear latex gloves. As you well know, a tiny little area can "lift" and moisture can collect under the nail/overlay. What a great place for germs or mold. If you've ever suffered with the dreaded "nail fungus," you know what I'm talking about. Even if you do wear latex gloves, wash your hands (gloves on) before working with your Kombucha. A lot of the newer "antibacterial" dish-washing liquids are good for this.
  • For men, and the lucky women with natural nails, scrub your hands with the antibacterial soap, using a nail brush, and be sure to rinse well.
  • Keep the Kombucha work area free of dirty dishes, fresh fruit and vegetables from the market, potted plants, caged birds, and other pets. If you are called to the phone, or the door, be sure to cover the utensils, and Kombucha colonies, with a freshly laundered tea towel, plastic wrap, or paper towel until you get back.
  • If you can, try to use your stainless steel pot for boiling the water for Kombucha preparation only. This way you'll be absolutely sure that there's no microscopic bits of food left in that pan. Ditto for your ladles, spoons, strainers, etc.
  • If you use tea bags, it might be a good idea to use the more popular brand that sells well in your grocery store. If you see a box/can of tea on the shelf, and it's dusty, and has obviously been there awhile, you are asking for trouble. You have no way of knowing how many years- yes "years"- that box of tea has been on the shelf . If the tea has been on the shelf for a year, the vitamins will have disappeared from the tea leaves, and I suspect that the polyphenols, and catechins may also be affected. Remember that a beautiful label, and lovely, descriptive words, have nothing to do with the freshness of the tea you purchase. If, when you open the tea, it has an "old" or "stale" smell, chances are that's just what it is-old and stale.
  • Probably the most important thing you can do to protect your Kombucha from mold is to be sure that you add enough "starter tea" to the batch. The typical batch contains 3 quarts of water; that's 96 ounces, so, 1/10 of that would be 9.6 ounces of fermented KT added to the batch. Be on the safe side and add one and one-half (1 1/2) cups of KT to your growing medium. As an extra precaution, do it this way: after you have placed the Kombucha colony in the cooled growing tea in the bowl/jar, pour the 1 1/2 cups of fermented KT over the colony--this will protect it from the "get-go."
  • If you are using a cloth (tea towel, T-shirt, whatever) to cover your fermenting container, consider switching to paper coffee filters, or paper towels. I have a hunch that many infestations of mold come from a cover that has not been properly laundered, or from dust, etc., filtering down through the cloth during the fermentation.
  • Ferment in a safe place. Try not to place the fermenting vessel on the floor, under the sink, in a shower stall, in the bathroom, in the laundry room, or in the garage.

31 What are the names of common molds and where are they found?

  • A. fumigatus: Is frequently associated with allergic reactions, has a worldwide distribution, and can grow at a temperature range of 12° to 75°C. It can be found on stored grains, stored sweet potatoes, and compost.
  • Alternaria:Grows as a parasite on plant, and plant materials. It causes several diseases of plants, and has been found in the lungs, and in skin infections in man. This mold stays high in the summer as well as the winter.
  • Aspergillus: It is a common soil fungus. It can be found growing on any substance, frequently found in damp hay, grain, sausage, and fruit. It is also used to make the preservative citric acid, and give coffee beans their flavor. Aspergillus: contains species A. funigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, and A. verisiolar.
  • A. flavus:Has a world-wide distribution, and is the species related to aflatoxin.
  • A.niger: Is a useful black mold used in the production of citric acid, and enzymes. It is frequently isolated in flooded areas in houses, and buildings.
  • A. verisiolar:Is the most frequently isolated, air-borne Aspergillus, in North America. It grows on soil, plant parts, paper pulps, and photographic optics. Aspergillus likes soils, decaying leaves, asbestos containing materials, and stored grains.
  • Aspergillus: Spores of Aspergillus are common components of the aerospora. Aspergillus can cause disease in humans, and has been liked to mycosis infections, allergic reactions, and toxicosis resulting from the ingestion of foods (grains, peanuts) containing aflatoxins.
  • Cephalosporium: A common soil inhabitant.
  • Cladosporium:(Flavum and Herbarum): Cladosporium is the most common airborne mold, occurring from temperate zone, to the tropics. This genus contains the species Homodendrum, and Dematium. Occurring year round indoors, and outside, it is found on creosote treated wood, face cream, dead, or diseased plant tissues, in soils, on foodstuffs, paints, textiles, and wood pulp. Some species have even been isolated from human, or animal, organs. Cladosporium is everywhere, all the time.
  • Curvularia:Is a species of the genus, Helminthosprium. It is associated with air, soil, plants, vegetables, and grains. It is similar to Alemaria, but is not usually found on indoor plants. A few species can create disease on plants. If found indoors, it usually has originated from an outdoor source.
  • Drechslera:Is of the genus Helminthosporium. The species are most commonly associated with plants, but can also be found airborne, and in soil. They can cause disease on growing plants, and predominate in spring, summer, and fall.
  • Epicoccum:Normally a soil organism, also can be found on decaying vegetative material, plant leaves, and uncooked fish.
  • Fomes:Found on rotting wood.
  • Fusarium:It grows as a parasite on green plants, such as peas, beans, cotton, tomato, corn, sweet potato, rice, and also, on decaying plants.
  • Pullularia:It is normally found in soil, It is also on decaying vegetation, plants, and caulking compound.
  • Geotrichum: Found in sour milk, and milk products, cheese, and pickles. *Helminthosporium: Found on cereal grain plants, such as corn, wheat, oats, and rye.
  • Hormodendrum:Found on decomposing plants, leather, rubber, cloth, paper, and wood products. Spores are released in great numbers after rains and damp weather.
  • Monilia: Is a mold which can be found in indoor air. It is a fast growing mold, appearing on fresh-cut corn, trees, and fresh potting soil. This mold is not to be confused with the yeast Candida albicans.
  • Mucor: Normal soil inhabitant. Found around barns, and barn-yards where it grows on animal waste.
  • Penicillium: Normally a soil inhabitant, but grows easily on fruit, bread, cheese, and other foods.
  • Phaeospaeria-Leptoshaeria: Found in marshy woody areas. Predominantly out after a rain.
  • Phoma:Grows on paper products, such as books, and magazines, certain paints, and green plants.
  • Phizopus:Grows on a variety of plants, breads, cured meats, and root vegetables, indoors.
  • Rhodotorula: Found in water, and in air.
  • Sporobolomyces:Wood decay on forest trees.
  • Stemphylium:It grows readily on damp paper, damp canvas, damp cotton, as well as decaying plant material. It can grow in any damp place, such as bathrooms, and basements.
  • Streptomyces: Is airborne bacteria, and a member of the Actinomycetes group. This group is important in the production of various antibiotics. Streptomyces occur infrequently in air, usually in soil, and may be associated with hay, vegetation composting, animals, and humans.
  • Trichoderma:Found mainly on decaying wood, damp cotton, and wool. Also found in damp basements.

See also:

32 Will the acids in KT give protection from molds when exposed to tobacco smoke?

Michael Roussin, Director of the Kombucha Consumer Research Group ™, has the following to say: "On the topic of nicotine and molds, I have to disagree about acids preventing molds on one point. Tobacco smoke is highly alkaline (about 12.0). Ferments that are exposed to tobacco smoke, get an alkaline layer on top of the new culture, which quickly grows common molds. Even ferments with a pH below 3.0, will grow a mold on a new culture in a room where tobacco is smoked. If you smoke, find a room where you can grow Kombucha that is a no-smoking area. Keep the door closed, and do not smoke when you are around your ferments. We established this in an experiment. Two cultures cut from the same parent, raised in the same nutrient, and with the same starter tea. One was exposed to cigarette smoke, and grew mold. The other was not exposed to cigarette smoke, and grew Kombucha. It is also covered in the books by Frank and Tietze."


Captain TEA,
Dec 14, 2010, 7:40 AM