T95-15                                          Brad Stone
March 23, 1995                                  (202) 205-4144

     FDA has been receiving inquiries about "Kombucha mushroom
tea" -- a product which has been mentioned in media reports
lately for many uses, from inducing a general state of well being
to treating diseases such as AIDS and cancer.  FDA has not
approved this product as a treatment for any medical condition. 
The following information can be used to answer questions:        
     Kombucha mushroom tea, also known as "Manchurian tea" or
"Kargasok tea," is not actually derived from a mushroom, but from
the fermentation of various yeasts and bacteria.  A starter
culture is added to a mixture of black tea and sugar, and the
resulting mix is allowed to ferment for a week or more.
      The product contains considerable quantities of acids
commonly found in some foods such as vinegar, and smaller
quantities of ethyl alcohol.  Because the acid could leach
harmful quantities of lead and other toxic elements from certain
types of containers -- some ceramic and painted containers and
lead crystal -- such containers should not be used for storing
Kombucha tea.

                            Page 2, T95-15, KOMBUCHA MUSHROOM TEA 
     The unconventional nature of the process used to make
Kombucha tea has led to questions as to whether the product could
become contaminated with potentially harmful microorganisms, such
as the mold Aspergillus.  Such contamination could produce
serious adverse effects in immune-compromised individuals. 
     FDA studies have found no evidence of contamination in
Kombucha products fermented under sterile conditions.  FDA and
state of California inspections of the facilities of a major
Kombucha tea supplier also found that its product was being
manufactured under sanitary conditions.
     However, the agency still has concerns that home-brewed
versions of this tea manufactured under non-sterile conditions
may be prone to microbiological contamination.  FDA will continue
to monitor the situation and encourages consumers to consult
appropriate health professionals for the treatment of serious

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004