In some of the articles written on Kombucha, several attempts to list the microorganisms in question. According to one report, The Moscow Central Bacteriological Institute identified the gelatinous mass as Bacterium xylinum and within this matrix lived, in symbiosis, Saccharomyces ludwigii, S. pombe, Bacterium gluconicum, B. xylinoides, B. katogenum, Pichia fermentans, Torula species and “other yeasts”. I do not claim to know the validity of these names attested to, but if true, this is one very complex commune of microbes, or one very contaminated culture!
In a recent article in The Mycologist, T. Kappel & R. H. Anken (1993) from the University of Stuttgart-Hoheneheim analyzed some of the metabolites. They reported 1% ethyl acetate, 3% acetic acid, lactate, tartrate, fructose, sucrose, various amino acids, biogene amines (ethyl amine, choline, adenine) and carbon dioxide. The ratios of these compounds appeared to related to the ratio of yeasts to bacteria. Others have reported the presence of folic acid, glucoronic acid, l-lactic acid, usnic acid, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12.
In all of my sources, there is no mention as to the natural habitat for Kombucha. One report states that the Kombucha was in use during biblical times. Another states that its first recorded use as “221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty” and that in 414 AD it was brought from Korea to Japan. Although rich in lore, few articles have bibliographies which would help the curious to track down the sources.