As I delve more into the world of kombucha, I realize it’s more complex than I expected. The cool thing about starting to brew kombucha is that once you’ve started, you can keep going in what’s called a continuous brew. This is the way to keep a steady supply of kombucha without having to suffer the costs of the store-bought brews, which are terrible tasting in comparison.
All it takes to restart the brew after you’ve removed most of it from the jar for bottling is to make a new batch of sweetened tea. Allow it to come to room temperature and top off your jars. Recover them and put them back in their spot and you’ve just started a new batch! No cleaning is necessary, although some people like to start with a clean jar every time. The idea is to save the SCOBY and a few cups of starter fluid, regardless of how you do it.
If you ever want to take a break or just have extra SCOBY’s on hand in case of disaster (mold), you can start a SCOBY hotel! I started one the very first day I started brewing as a sort of kombucha restore disk, just in case I mess up my first brew. If you were given enough starter for this sort of thing, I definitely recommend it. If you were only given a few cups, you’ve gotta brew that and make more before you can start a hotel, for best results.
The photos featured in this article are of my SCOBY hotel, as it stands today. It’s cloudy with yeast and has a thick SCOBY mat on top, but doesn’t really smell like much as it’s pretty much consumed all the sugars and tannin at this point. The pink color is because it was previously used to brew hibiscus tea, called jamaica here (pronounce ha-mai-ca).
So what do you need for a SCOBY hotel?
SCOBY and starter fluid
Sweetened tea, although not totally necessary filter and something to fasten it
There’s a lot of hearsay on the best way to start a SCOBY hotel. From what I can tell, it’s one of those things that everyone does differently. Some people add sweet tea to start, some don’t. Some feed them every month, some don’t. I’ve not fed mine yet and it seems healthy.
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How long they can go without a feeding is dependent on many factors. Some people have reported leaving them for a year, to use them to start a batch with no issues. They can last 4-6 months without feeding from my understanding, they’re just significantly less active. If you live in a colder climate, you can leave it for a lot longer than in a warmer climate.
There are many reasons to start a SCOBY hotel. Many start them as a sort of breeding grounds for new scoby and starter, in large jars. Many start them before they go off traveling, in hopes of making ‘booch when they return. Whatever your reason, do your research before you do as there are many things to consider, and I really cannot even begin to cover them here.
While I’ve not yet needed my hotel, it’s nice having it there as a sort of insurance. I inspect it every so often to check it’s health, but from what I can tell it’s just fine.
The idea is that the SCOBY eventually runs out of food and just goes dormant. Many people keep their hotel in the fridge or in a cellar, where temperatures are fairly cool as it promotes the scoby going into a dormant state. It’s not advised to store it below 45 degrees Fahrenheit though, so long term fridge storage isn’t the best way to go.
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If you live in a warm climate like I do, you’ll probably need to feed your scoby hotel every so often, as it’s not really easy to make it go dormant here. Considering I’m still in the process of brewing here, it’s not a huge deal for me to dump half a cup of sweet tea in with it every so often. It already is significantly much less odoriferous than my live brew, and it was covered for more than a week, which holds the odor in a bit.
So there you have it, a simple run down on the continuous brew and starting a scoby hotel. If you were wondering what to do once that brews finished, this is it. It’s a very cyclical symbiotic process that I find pretty interesting, at the end of the day. So I’ll just keep feeding it and it’ll just keep feeding me.
Stay tuned, as I share some of the science behind the kombucha health claims as well as unique ways to use the brew and it’s SCOBY mat. This has been an extremely fun and interesting adventure, that I advise anyone do regardless of climate. In a cold climate? Get a heating mat!
Anyway, thanks for reading and supporting, until next time! Happy Brewing!
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