Where’s the Baby? (the Kombucha baby)

I tried making kombucha years ago. I followed the directions to the letter and a baby (second) SCOBY never formed. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and why my kombucha failed every time. Finally, I just gave up.

About a year ago, I decided to give it another try and I was determined to make it work this time. I checked it everyday, waiting for the baby to form. And . . . no baby. Grrr… What was I doing wrong and why couldn’t I make kombucha?!

I talked to a friend who was brewing successful kombucha by the gallons. I learned two things. First, a baby is not the determining factor in producing successful kombucha. What?! Do you mean that my kombucha was likely successful all along, but I was looking for a baby SCOBY as the predictor?! *sigh* I tasted my brew and it was delicious!

The second thing I learned is that forming a baby SCOBY is a very sensitive process. Even a bump can disrupt the formation. I had no idea! I started my next batch, put it up in the cupboard over the refrigerator and didn’t touch it at all — not once during the brew time. I also gave my husband strict instructions to STAY OUT of that cupboard.



Bonni started on the cultured foods path quite few years ago, beginning with sauerkraut. Since then, she has cultured yogurt, milk kefir, water kefir, kombucha, a variety of veggies, sour cream and gluten-free sourdough. She is a busy homeschool mom to her daughter, so is always looking for the most efficient and least time consuming ways to manage all of her culturing.

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  1. Dona says

    I am excited to try this. My question is- since I will purchase my kombucha scoby and don’t have any previous batch I understand that I will need to use vinegar. How long or how many times do I need to make kombucha before it brews to taste good? Also, how long should I brew it for the first time or two?

    • Julie FeickertJulie says

      The first batch may or may not taste okay depending on a number of factors (a major factor is that the yeast and bacteria are coming out of hibernation during the rehydration process so they don’t always produce the most consistent taste profile that first batch). By the second batch though, you should have a fairly consistent product. For the second batch, or the first batch after rehydrating, I would recommend tasting the brew using a straw after 7 days. After that it’s just a matter of preference how long you allow the kombucha to brew. Some people prefer a more sweet brew which is acheived with a shorter fermentation period (7-10 days). Some prefer a less sweet brew and will let it go 14-30 days.

  2. says

    I started with a scoby from a friend and have shared many times since. This was by far the easiest way to get started. I prefer about 8-9 days, but don’t mind the zest of longer brew.

    • Shaina says

      That’s awesome! It’s such fun to give away scobys. :) I like the sweetness of a shorter brew, but sometimes I just crave that lovely vinegary flavor of the longer brew.

  3. Amy says

    That’s good to hear. I have been wondering what is wrong with my kombucha as well. When I leave it for a week it seems to only produce a thin film on top….

    I thought that I needed to leave it for the full 30 days in order to have a new thick baby culture and healthy kombucha but it has always been WAY to vinegary tasting.

    So it is okay that it’s only growing a thin baby on top then??

    • Shaina says

      Sometimes it can produce a huge, thick baby, and sometimes it produces almost nothing. I leave mine for about two weeks, and it gets a medium-sized baby most of the time. As a general rule, the longer it goes, the bigger the baby will be. You can definitely use a little baby for a new batch, though, since it will get thicker in the new batch. Don’t worry; your kombucha sounds fine! :)

  4. says

    I just made kombucha for the first time and I didn’t have a baby either, lol. Just some flimsy brownish stuff on top of the baby scoby (as I bought a small baby scoby from somebody online, I guess it’s not matured enough to be a mother..).

    I will see if it grows a baby for the next batch. I wonder if you have rinsed the scoby everytime you made new kombucha? Maybe that’s how you get rid of the thin layer it forms to start making a baby… I didn’t rinse my scoby because I read the brown stuff is (good) yeast.

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