I have heard of the death that was supposedly associated with it; however, it has been proven that the death was not directly linked to Kombucha. The news article I read was actually from the health department that investigated the death, and they said themselves that it was ruled out as the cause of death (the lady had quite a number of illnesses, such as diabetes, etc.) I am actually on my second gallon. It tastes a lot like a strong cider vinegar. The people who got me started actually like the taste. My husband and I don't *like* it but it is definitely tolerable.
They call it a "mushroom" but it is actually an active (alive) culture that resembles (by looks) parafin wax on the top of home canned jellies, etc. It isn't actually a mushroom. It is called a "scoby".
As for making it at home, cleanliness is HIGHLY STRESSED, as 'unfriendly' bacteria from uncleanliness can cause it to mold and then it isn't good to drink. Although I wouldn't compare my house to the local dump, it isn't exactly an operating room either, but I have had my batches come out fine so far (have made 4 total).
I will let you know how it goes with us as well. I just wanted to see if any of you have had this before.