Science vs. the Kombucha Mythos
Most kombucha brewers are aware, to an extent, of the prevalence of hearsay and unfounded rhetoric surrounding every facet of the kombucha experience. The ongoing conversations are what fuels, to a great extent, the content of this particular blog, while also contributing to a modern kombucha mythos.
Power of direct experienceTo be absolutely honest, though, so much content must be experiential due to the simple fact that obtaining actual research on the subject of kombucha can be difficult. The small amount of research that has been done can be difficult or expensive to access. The things we discover in our own experiences, or those of others, are excellent sources. Experiential data holds great weight for home brewers. Sure, it can be useful to cite x or y article that references the 'buch. These impressions will always exist, and the weight we contribute to them is of course a matter of our own willingness to accept or reject these and other sometimes unfounded suppositions. As with any data on the internet, though, check your sources.
Reports that hold saltThere is some excellent data we can all point towards, either to support or helpfully reject some facets of our experiential understanding. Excellent sources include a number of books and scientific papers. One great source we've recently discovered, though, is a portal to all sorts of scientific knowledge previously accessible only to those willing to pay for it. However, we see that the idealization of the free flow of information has issued into a vast majority of science literature being made freely available. An article about the woman behind this democratizing action, and a link to her eye-opening project can be found here. A simple search for "kombucha" on her hub yields quite a number of papers that point to scientifically-tested aspects of our favorite beverage. The ever-useful Reddit also has a section titled Scholar - and, doing a quick search for "kombucha" here can bring up a good amount of scientifically-verified data on the 'buch! Kombucha cohorts over at the Happy Herbalist have compiled a useful page as well, citing some of these studies, which can be found here. Referenced is one of the major studies about kombucha, performed by Michael Roussin, for example. In his research, one of many things he revealed is that caffeine content of teas is not affected by fermentation. It is notable that this research runs contrary to the popular belief that kombucha fermentation helps to mitigate caffeine from the tea's infusion - good information for those with caffeine allergies to know before embarking on a brewing project, but also a great example of the potential of science to debunk a common bit of kombucha mythology.
In conclusionAs with many things in our own lives, the phrase "you decide your own level of involvement" rings loud and clear when we attempt to build up our knowledge base with regards to kombucha. Our own direct experience can be incredibly powerful, but when bolstered by scientific findings, we can come much closer to a full-circle understanding that enriches our brewing experience and propels our lives towards vitality and happiness. Happy brewing!