What about Probiotics?
What exactly are the beneficial bacteria found in kombucha? In an article published from the Journal of Food Microbiology, it was found that the following probiotics are generally found in kombucha--although the actual amounts and types of organisms in the culture can vary widely, based on geography, preparation, temperature, climate, local bacteria in the environment, and yeasts present.
* Gluconacetobacter-An anaerobic bacteria unique to kombucha. It feeds on nitrogen from the tea and produces acetic acid and gluconic acid, as well as building the SCOBY.
* Acetobacter-Bacteria that produce acetic acid and gluconic acid, along with the actual SCOBY mushroom. Acetobacter xylinoides and acetobacter ketogenum are two of the usual strains youfind in kombucha.
* Lactobacillus-A type of bacteria sometimes in kombucha lactic acid.
* Saccharomyces-Includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha.
* Zygosaccharomyces-A yeast strain unique to kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the mushroom body.
The different types of bacteria and yeast in kombucha are what make it behave and appear the way it does, including the fizz and its somewhat unique flavor. (And if you see funky looking thins floating around in you kombucha, don't worry about it--just drink up--it's little colonies of healthy yeast and bacteria).
Other, not so beneficial organisms have been found in some cultures as well, and if you are making your own brew, you need to be very careful to keep everything touching the kombucha and the SCOBY very clean. Penicillin, Aspergillus, and Candida are common invaders, and rarely, even more harmful bacteria can take up residence, but those cases are few and far between. However, if you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, it is probably best to avoid kombucha, since some of the yeasts and bacteria may be more harmful to a weakened immune system than good.
How do you know if your home brewed kombucha has unhealthy molds? It's pretty easy to spot. It usually looks very similar to the mold that you would see growing on bread, fruit or cheese. Green, black, or gray--and fuzzy. Just be sure to dump everything if you see mold on it, and start over with a new SCOBY.
Please adhere to very clean standards and avoid contaminating it, to create the freshest kombucha with the most active enzymes and ingredients. Commercially prepared kombuchas lose many of their antioxidants when stored for long periods of time, and some varieties have far less beneficial bacteria in them.
Here is a recipe for basic kombucha:
4-6 black tea bags
1 cup organic granulated sugar
1-2 liters filtered or spring water (don't use tap water as it often contains chlorine and other chemicals which will kill or prevent the frowth of the beneficial bacteria and yeasts.
Large glass container with wide mouth, such as glass iced tea container
SCOBY (you can use a starter from someone else who makes kombucha or obtain a starter from a health food store or online)
Clean dish cloth and rubber band
Be sure you kitchen and utensils are all very clean. Just to be sure, rinse all under very hot water.
Bring water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, remove from heat and add teabags and sugar and let it steep, stirring occasionally with clean spoon to dissolve sugar.
Remove and discard tea bags after about a half hour or so. Let mixture cool to room temp--do not pour boiling hot tea over SCOBY or you may kill the live bacteria and yeasts.
When cool, add to jar with an equal amount of filtered water. Ad SCOBY and cover with clean cloth and rubber band to secure it. Do not add a lid as the fermentation will build up and could explode it!!
Allow the tea to sit or 7-14 days. Less time produces a tea with more sugar and caffeine. More time creates a more sour, fizzy brew, but it will be full of antioxidants, enzymes and probiotics. Much depends on the temperature and storage of the tea.