I was given some kombucha culture the other day. I have tried it briefly before but with little success. It may have been the batch I received but I am also a little more in tune with these ferments now after having kept milk kefir for around five years and recently trying my hand with water kefir.
It intrigues me how such simple ingredients of water, sugar and tea can produce with the help of bacteria and yeast a refreshingly, sweet and sour drink with a fruity fragrance full of health giving nutrients and acids.
The culture feeds on the sugar and, in exchange, produces other valuable substances contained in the finished product: glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, antibiotic substances, 0.5% to 1% alcohol is produced as well as other products.
Kombucha apparently evolved from plant organisms over 2.5 billion years ago and has been prepared and made into a fermented tea drink for over 2ooo years. The principal yeast is Schizosaccharomyces Pombe; others varyingly include Saccharomyces Ludwigii, torula and apiculatus types, Pichia fermentans and Mycoderma. Principal bacteria are Acetobacteria xylinum, Gluconobacter bluconicum and Acetobacter xylinioides; others varyingly include Acetobacter aceti/ketogenum/ pasteurianum
Below is a list of some of the major ingredients found in Kombucha tea:
Various Enzymes, Acetic acid, Carbonic acid, Folic Acid, Gluconic acid, Glucuronic acid, L(+) Lactic, Usnic acid, Amino acids (various), Hydroxy acids (various), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2(Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin, niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin, cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C (from Lactic acid).
In the photo above you can see the original culture in the bottom of the jar and a spiral of organisms as they set about making a new gel culture on the surface of the liquid. Pure alchemy I believe.