Can drinking Kombucha Tea harm me in any way?
Kombucha tea is safe to drink and even the American Federal Drug Administration has indicated it is safe provided it is prepared in a clean manner (this is the same for any other food or beverage you are planning to consume). Like other food it is possible that the tea can become spoiled. But the risk of this happening is no greater than for any other food or beverage probably even less for Kombucha because it is a fermented beverage which contains some alcohol and is highly acidic. Alcohol helps to inhibit contamination. Millions of people all over the world drink Kombucha daily and only see positive benefits from doing so. (unfortunatley we are not allowed to make any specific health claims but we suggest research Kombucha further to learn more about its purported benefits, you will be amazed by what you find) Kombucha is safer than aspirin. A lot of people pose the safety question about Kombucha because they mistakenly believe it to be a mushroom and they are aware that some mushrooms are poisonous. Kombucha is not a mushroom; it is something more like lichen, a simple plant. Please be aware if you are on any kind of medication that Kombucha may not mix well with your medication so consult your doctor before you start drinking Kombucha.
So in a nutshell what exactly is Kombucha?
Put simply, Kombucha is a fermented tea made using a kombucha starter culture (aka mushroom, mother, scoby,culture etc.), tea prepared with sugar and some kombucha tea from a previous batch (aka starter tea). The mixture is allowed to ferment at room temperature for 5-30+ days. It can be drunk plain or you can flavour Kombucha with fruit, fruit juice or simply a little spring water. Kombucha contains a number of vitamins (particularly b-vitamins) and may have a number of health benefits (see above statement).
What is a Kombucha Scoby made of?
You’re probably familiar with that leathery pancake we call a scoby. Scoby stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. “Symbiotic” means that the bacteria and yeast strains live together in a complex, mutually supportive community, supporting and depending on each other. The scoby is sometimes called the mushroom, because it resembles the smooth, thick body of a mushroom.The specific bacteria and yeast strains in the kombucha are what make it act the way it does, and what produce the fizz and very distinctive flavour kombucha is known for.
All Kombucha Scobies are different but below is a list of the specific yeasts and bacteria that you would expect to find in a Kombucha Scoby:
Acetobacter: This is an aerobic (requiring oxygen) bacteria strain that produces acetic acid and gluconic acid. This Yeast is always found in any Kombucha Scoby.
Saccharomyces: This includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol, and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha.
Brettanomyces: Another type of yeast strain,commonly found in kombucha and produce alcohol or acetic acid.
Lactobacillus: A type of bacteria that is sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha. It produces lactic acid.
Pediococcus: These bacteria produce lactic acid and slime. They are sometimes, but not always, found in kombucha.
Gluconacetobacter kombuchae is a bacteria that is only found in kombucha. It feeds on nitrogen that is found in tea, and produces acetic acid and gluconic acid as well as building the scoby mushroom.
Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis is another yeast strain that is only found in kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the mushroom body.
Kombucha also contains many other nutrients, particularly various acids and esters that give the drink its characteristic tang and fizz. Included in these components is gluconic acid, which is the primary difference between the makeup of kombucha and the makeup of apple cider vinegar!
The actual bacteria, sugar, and acid content of kombucha depends on many factors, including the culture you begin with, the type of tea used, the type of sugar used, the strength of the tea, the type of water, the length of time brewing, the temperature at which it is cultured, and more,what is common to all kombuchas is gluconic acid, acetic acid, and fructose.
Can i really make Kombucha at home that tastes the same as the Kombucha i buy in the shop?
Kombucha is simple and easy to make at home and with practice and experimentation with the type of tea used, the brewing time, the type of sugar used, additives (ginger, fresh fruit and fruit juice.) you really can make kombucha that tastes amazing at home and for a fraction of the cost.
Do Kombucha Scobies contain gluten, or diary and are they suitable for vegetarians?