Kombucha starts with a mushroom, but this is not a real mushroom it’s actually the skin that forms over the top of fermenting tea after it’s combined with yeast and the bacteria Acetobacter. Once the tea ferments in about one week, it has successfully become the much loved kombucha tea. In order for the tea to ferment sugar needs to be added and the bacteria can be used to ferment other liquids as well.
Scott Cap, a 65 year-old who has been in the kombucha business for ten years, says he would love to see the product prescribed by every doctor in the world for its healing properties. Cap has experimented with fermenting many kinds of liquids including milk, in his kombucha endeavors. “Tea is the best tasting thing for the culture. Any kind of tea works but some doesn’t taste as good,” said Cap who says he has also heard of people using fruit juice in the process.
In addition to picking up a bottle of ready-to-drink kombucha tea in most supermarkets, making the tea at home is a realistic thing to do. This is where Cap becomes involved. His business, Kombucha America, and others like it on the internet, sell kombucha-making supplies to people interested in making it themselves. “The kombucha process begins with a culture. You cannot begin making kombucha tea without it,” described Cap who says that the homemade way makes for better tasting tea.
When consumed, kombucha may react badly in people taking prescription drugs or hormones. Other negative effects such as hepatotoxicity having to do with chemical-driven liver damage and allergic reactions are seen as risk factors, though reliable studies having to do with kombucha tea are sparse. Some benefits that kombucha drinkers commonly refer to include improvements in things such as energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, cancer, digestive problems, hypertension, chronic fatigue and arthritis.
A paper involving FDA regulations on kombucha called “FDA Cautions Consumers on Kombucha Mushroom Tea” was written in 1995. In short, it is states that there has been no evidence of manufacturers contamination but concern that people making it at home might do things that make it unsanitary.
“People blame it for anything because it’s strange and not understood,” said Cap who does not need to insure the cultures he sells unlike the companies who sell it in stores commercially. Cap, who runs the Kombucha business on his own, describes himself as probably the largest provider of the culture on the internet.
As an air traffic controller for ten years, Cap says he is delighted to be able to promote a product that he truly believes in for a living. He says he makes money from selling the cultures on the internet. However, because it’s strictly a one-time sale he’s not getting rich. “There are lots of people selling kombucha. Knowing people are only good for one sell, they try loading consumers up with things they don’t need like ph strips and containers for fermentation,” he acknowledged.