What Is a Kombucha Mushroom?


Quick Answer

The kombucha "mushroom" is actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The colony forms a flat, round sac once it begins to ferment, resulting in an object which resembles the cap of a mushroom.

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Full Answer

Kombucha colonies vary in their precise composition, but often include Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Candida stellata and species of bacteria from the Torula genus. While these microbes are safe for human consumption, sometimes colonies get infected with toxic molds and fungi, which can cause food poisoning.

The colonies are used to ferment tea, which creates a beverage via a process similar to the production of vinegar from wine. A "mother" colony is placed in a fresh batch of tea and sugar. Over the course of a week, the colony breaks down the sugar and other compounds in the tea and produces a daughter colony which floats to the surface of the batch. The resulting beverage has a sour taste.

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