Kombucha

Woodgyer, Alan AJW ALAN%NZCDC at LINCOLN.CRI.NZ
Tue Dec 6 14:18:31 EST 1994


Kombucha is a concoction made from fermenting tea and sugar with
"tea fungus".  Other names for the "beverage" are Japanese or
Indonesion tea fungus, teeschwamm, wunderpilz, hongo, cajnij,
fungus japonicus and teewass.

For some reason, here in New Zealand it goes by the name of
Manchurian Mushroom!

A useful reference is: "Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods",
editor-in-chief Keith H Steinkraus; associate editors Roger E
Cullen, Carl S Pederson and Lois F Nellis; assistant editor Ben K
Gavitt, 1983, published by Marcel Dekker, inc, New York and
Basel. (Reviewed in Scientific American Nov 1983, pp 30-31.)

The fermentation is a mixed one involving Acetobacter sp.,
probably A. xylinum plus various yeasts, usually only two.  The
latter can include Saccharomyces sp., Torulopis famata, Pichia
membranaefaciens, Candida guilliermondii, C. obtuse and Kloeckera
apiculata.  

A sample of kombucha I examined contained S. cerevisiae and
Torulaspora debrueckii.  I suspect that the microbial flora of
the concoction varies considerably from batch to batch.  This
would be very dependant on the cleanliness of the procedure and
the hygiene of the person involved.

The "literature" circulating with the New Zealand "bug" makes
some incredible claims - it supposedly lowers blood pressure,
fades your wrinkles (but not your jeans), restores hair growth,
darkens grey hair, strengthens the eyesight and contributes to
longevity!!  It's even been recommended "to support cancer
treatments".  In other words, it's the elixir of life!!!

The appearance of the stuff would put me off drinking it!

Hope this helps.

Alan Woodgyer



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