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Kombucha fermentation and it's antimicrobial activities

Below you will find studies on kombucha cultures of yeast and bacteria and how it produces antimicrobial compounds for
protection from foreign invaders.  Besides acetic acid, which is produced during the fermentation process, kombucha is thought
to have other factors and compound that may aid in these protective factors.
photo of mold formation mushroom culture
photo of mold
Kombucha Regulations and Hazards From the FDA -
This subject must be addressed to insure that the consumer is informed about the potential hazards from improper brewing and handling of the cultures.
Because folk medicines and herbal remedies, including Kombucha tea, are considered neither a food nor a drug, they are not routinely evaluated by FDA or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  
The FDA does have kombucha regulations, warnings, and information posted in a report on the FDA
web site.  

This report contains information about the hazards of brewing the tea in non-glass containers mostly and a few reported cases where people have been hospitalized from not
following this important step!  FDA studies have found no evidence of
contamination or hazards in Kombucha products fermented under sterile conditions.  
At this time there are no regulations from the FDA for producing kombucha products.  Please note: is not liable or in control of the consumers home brewing process.  


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Kombucha Fermentation and Its Antimicrobial Activity

Journal Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jun;48(6):2589-94

Sreeramulu G, Zhu Y, Knol W.
Department of Applied Microbiology and Gene Technology, TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The

Kombucha was prepared in a tea broth (0.5% w/v) supplemented with sucrose (10% w/v) by using a commercially
available starter culture. The pH decreased steadily from 5 to 2.5 during the fermentation while the weight of the "tea
fungus" and the OD of the tea broth increased through 4 days of the fermentation and remained fairly constant
thereafter. The counts of acetic acid-producing bacteria and yeasts in the broth increased up to 4 days of fermentation
and decreased afterward. The antimicrobial activity of Kombucha was investigated against a number of pathogenic
microorganisms. Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella sonnei, Escherichia coli, Aeromonas hydrophila, Yersinia enterolitica,
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae, Staphylococcus epidermis, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enteritidis,
Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus cereus, Helicobacterpylori, and Listeria monocytogenes were found to be sensitive to
Kombucha. According to the literature on Kombucha, acetic acid is considered to be responsible for the inhibitory effect
toward a number of microbes tested, and this is also valid in the present study.

However, in this study, Kombucha proved to exert antimicrobial activities against E. coli, Sh. sonnei, Sal. typhimurium,
Sal. enteritidis, and Cm. jejuni, even at neutral pH and after thermal denaturation.
This finding suggests the presence of antimicrobial compounds other than acetic acid and
large proteins in Kombucha.
The Yeast Spectrum of the 'Tea Fungus"

Mycoses. 1995 Jul-Aug;38(7-8):289-95

Kombucha'.Mayser P, Fromme S, Leitzmann C, Grunder K.
Department of Dermatology and Andrology, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany.

The tea fungus 'Kombucha' is a symbiosis of Acetobacter, including Acetobacter xylinum as a characteristic species, and various yeasts. A characteristic yeast
species or genus has not yet been identified. Kombucha is mainly cultivated in sugared black tea to produce a slightly acidulous effervescent beverage that is said to
have several curative effects. In addition to sugar, the beverage contains small amounts of alcohol and various acids, including acetic acid, gluconic acid and lactic
acid, as well as some antibiotic substances.

To characterize the yeast spectrum with special consideration given to facultatively pathogenic yeasts, two commercially available specimens of tea fungus and 32
from private households in Germany were analysed by micromorphological and biochemical methods. Yeasts of the genera Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces
and Saccharomyces were identified in 56%, 29% and 26% respectively. The species Saccharomycodes ludwigii and Candida kefyr were only demonstrated in
isolated cases. Furthermore, the tests revealed pellicle-forming yeasts such as Candida krusei or Issatchenkia orientalis/occidentalis as well as species of the
apiculatus yeasts (Kloeckera, Hanseniaspora). Thus, the genus Brettanomyces may be a typical group of yeasts that are especially adapted to the environment of
the tea fungus. However, to investigate further the beneficial effects of tea fungus, a spectrum of the other typical genera must be defined. Only three specimens
showed definite contaminations. In one case, no yeasts could be isolated because of massive contamination with Penicillium spp. In the remaining two samples
(from one household), Candida albicans was demonstrated.

The low rate of contamination might be explained by protective mechanisms, such as formation of organic acids and antibiotic substances.
Thus, subjects with a healthy metabolism do not need to be advised against cultivating Kombucha. However, those suffering from
immuno-suppression should preferably consume controlled commercial Kombucha beverages.
Kombucha mold, mold on kombucha, warnings, hazards, and safety and what the FDA says. How to obtain a healthy culture that is pure and uncontaminated is important when considering starting your own culturing of kombucha or any culture.