Origins of Kombucha

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Have you ever thought about where  Kombucha originated from while sipping on a cup of bubbly? Let us share  with you the origins of Kombucha!

We can’t exactly pinpoint the first moment Kombucha was produced or where precisely it wasmade, just like how we can’t identify where the first apple was grown or who grew it! Despite this, we can trace backits origins from stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

According to archaeological evidence, clay pots were found which dated to prehistorical times that were possibly used as fermentations vessels over 9000 years ago. Evidence has pointed that some of these vessels were used in the preparation of alcohol and for preservation of foods through fermentation. There is reason to believe that Kombucha may have found it’s way into one of these clay pots thousands of years ago!

One of the oldest Kombucha origin story ever told, dates back to 221 BCE in the Qin Dynasty. It was said that the then mighty ruler of China, Emperor Shi Huang Di was the first to consume Kombucha as it was believed to grant powers of immortality, otherwise known as “Tea of Immortality” or “Long Life Elixir”. Although, notes documenting the creation of Kombucha did not survive from that era, we know that Kombucha is directly linked to black tea and was first developed in China. Thus it’s likely that people had been making Kombucha there.

The origins of the word Kombucha however was thought to have been linked to Japan. During this period (sometime in 414 CE), Japanese rulers began establishing relationships with the Chinese and Korean empires across the sea. Tea was one commodity that saw trade in both directions and was widely introduced to the local monasteries by Buddhist monks travelling between the countries. At this time, the Japanese already had a health drink called “kombu-cha” made out of dried powdered kelp (“kombu”) mixed with green tea (“cha”) and hot water. To complicate things further, history mentions a Korean doctor by the name of Dr. Komu-Ha who was thought to have brought the magical brew with him on a trip to visit Japanese Emperor Inyoko to cure him of his digestive problems. It does seem a bit too much of a coincidence though especially with his name resembling like Kombucha! ? Perhaps this is where Kombucha got its name from! Because green tea is an excellent source for making Kombucha, it’s very possible that Kombucha was used as a health tonic in Japan from then on.

Soon the bubbly beverage had spread to EasternEurope due to trade route expansions in the early 20th century. It appeared in Russia under the name “Kambucha”, where the people there had a well-established tradition of using fermentation to store foods, like sauerkraut and kvass (a drink made of fermented rye bread). As with China and Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe also have had their tea made with this “mushroom” that was very similar in appearance to Kombucha. It’s likely that there has been some mingling of the history of the two due to the similarity of form and function. With increasing globalization of the world’s economy and migration westward across the Atlantic Ocean, the culinary and medical traditions of Eastern Europe became more well-known and Kombucha’s popularity begin to spread across to the United States.  

Wherever Kombucha came from, one thing is for sure: Kombucha has been around for centuries and that many modern cultures and communities have drank it for its healing properties and health benefits. We hope you have a better understanding of the journey Kombucha has had  from its creation to the very bottles of Kombucha you’re drinking from!

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