This is an excerpt from the excellent book:
"Kombucha - Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East"
by Guenther W. Frank.
To buy this book
The "Genuine" Kombucha Culture
"Have I got the real Kombucha culture? Where do I get the right culture
from?" These are questions that bother a lot of people, and are forever
To anticipate the answer right away: there is no one clear answer to this
question. Reiss (1987) reduces it to the common denominator: "The precise
combination of the component elements of individual Kombucha preparations
can vary widely, so that it's not so much a case of "the" Kombucha
culture, but of a great number of them."
This view is confirmed by all the other authors. Lindner (1913 and 1917/
18) had already noticed that the composition of the individual cultures
could be very different, particularly with regard to the yeasts.
And Valentin (1930), who experimented with a variety of different strains,
says that the varying results of his researches taught him that there is a
great variety in the individual culture colonies. He describes his results
in the following terms:
"At any rate it must be emphasized that the chemical processes in Kombucha
cultures are dependent on the bacteria available. But it's not just from
the fermented products that one can tell commercially obtainable Kombucha
cultures contain a variety of quite different strains of yeast and
bacteria; even the symbiotic relationship of the individual varieties to
each other varies greatly."
Valentin (1928) even recommends chemists to raise a varieties of cultures
in order to be able to give their customers the appropriate culture to
match the desired taste.
The Russian research scientist Danielova confirms in a thesis published in
1954 ("Morphology of the tea fungus") that the actual composition of the
symbiont varies according to geographical and climatic conditions, and
depends on whatever types of wild yeasts and bacteria exist locally.
The variety of combinations forming the Kombucha culture can possibly be
caused by differing growth of the individual constituents. Depending on
which conditions of growth best suit which constituents of the culture, so
one sort develops better than another.
Because I considered the question of the "genuine" Kombucha culture to be
very important, I consulted Professor Ulf Stahl of the Technical
University, Berlin (Microbiological Research Institute), who was known to
me as an authority in the field of microbiology. Professor Stahl told me
that the opinion of the Microbiological Research Institute is that the
Kombucha culture is composed of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Acetobacter
These constituents are also given by authors worldwide. Dr. Maxim Bing
(1928) gives Bacterium xylinum and the tropical Pombe yeast, as well as
Bact. xylonoides and gluconicum as constituents in pure cultures. The
first two are given a certain prominence.
Dr. Arauner (1929) confirms this: "The Kombucha culture is not a
standardized thing, but a fungal consortium of Bacterium xylinum (former
designation of Acetobacter xylinum) in symbiosis with Pombe yeast."
Prof. Henneberg (1926 b) also mentions exactly the same combination in his
handbook on fermentation bacteriology, and recommends pure cultures of
both these constituents.
A pure or axenic culture consists of a single type of micro-organism. In
bacteriology, often only the descendants of one single bacterium cell
(isolation of single-cell colonies) are referred to as a pure culture
When Prof. Henneberg recommends using pure cultures, he means by that
nothing more than cultivating both constituent part - Bacterium xylinum
and the Pombe yeast - separately, and only then bringing them together.
Preparing the beverage at home, of course, one has to continue working
with the already combined constituents of the culture.
The sum up, one may say: The principal constituents Schizosaccharomyces
pombe and Bacterium (Acetobacter) xylinum are both unhesitatingly attested
in the writings of the experts. An exception to this is Wiechowski (1928),
who considers Bacterium gluconicum to be the principal bacterium and
Bacterium xylinum next in order of importance. Irrespective of these,
other bacteria and yeasts are mentioned as being constituent elements,
whose presence however varies.
Our opinions are like our watches.
Nobody's is exactly the same as
anybody else's, and yet everyone
believes their own to be right.
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