Why Such Growth?

When I started my last batch, I grabbed a “resting” scoby from my scoby hotel. In doing so, I disturbed the scoby that had been growing of the surface, pushing it down with the rest. This means that the current scoby growing on the top of my hotel is all new. In less than one week, I have 1/4 inch of growth!

As far as I can tell, this is not normal. It seems like my Kombucha farm is unusually productive when it comes to producing cellulose in the form of a scoby. But why? I’ll try to evaluate each variable:

  • Distilled water – since the water contains nothing, it seems unlikely that this is promoting growth. Perhaps the lack of chlorine/flouride/etc means growth is less inhibited than for other people, but considering the variety of water being used, this seems unlikely
  • Tea – I’m not the only one using bagged tea, though I do think that it is uncommon to use decaf tea. It does seem to be very rare to use tea that’s been steeped for 4 or more hours, so perhaps that’s a defining factor. However, since the hotel doesn’t get any fresh tea of it’s own (aside from the inaugural batch), I think this indicates that there are still a lot of culture-supporting nutrients left in the kombucha when I stop brewing. This should mean that 2 family-size bags is more than necessary.
  • Starter culture – I don’t have much info about where my donated culture came from, or if the source experiences the same degree of scoby growth.
  • Temperature – The hotel has spent a couple weeks in my laundry room, with a heating pad nearby (not on the hotel, but on the jars of active brews). I estimate the temperature has consistently been in the low to mid seventies, which is at the lower end of the 68-86 degree optimal range, so this shouldn’t really be promoting rapid growth.
  • Residual contaminants – The jars have all been run through the dishwasher before use, but came to me as 1-gallon pickle jars that had been repurposed for storing herbs. Maybe there was a growth-promoting substance still in the jar when I started using it?

Is there a variable I should be considering? Have any ideas what could be at work here?

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