Started the kombucha culture on January8th...just like in culturing yeast from the dregs of a bottle conditioned beer, it takes a bit of time to get going. I'd say I had a cohesive mother formed after stepping up three times, increasing the volume (and container) each time. I leave her covered with a tea towel (took it off for the picture). its kinda funky looking, but I suppose I would expect it to be. The bacteria are pumping out some serious acids...I haven't taken a pH reading, but it stings the nostrils ...in a good way.
Now that the mother looks big enough, I made ~1 gallon of sweetened green tea, dumped out most of the liquid (pungent stuff), and now have what will be my first kombucha fermenting now. I plan to juice some fresh ginger and lemon to add along with a bit of priming sugar at bottling time. that should be sometime this weekend.