The Origin of Kombucha (or the lack thereof)
Tracing Kombucha back to its earliest origins is like looking for an arrowhead and unearthing an entire civilization.
Or…maybe it’s more like following a trail in the woods that you’re certain will take you to the river’s edge, but instead it takes you to the mouth of a cave that turns into a tunnel that ends up at the center of the earth.
Hm. How about this: It’s like playing telephone with tin cans connected by string, and you think you might actually hear what someone is saying at the other end, except that the string is actually a few dozen strings that reach all the way around the world to countless tin cans that have long since been abandoned by the kids who used them.
Alright. Basically, understanding the absolute origins of Kombucha is a rabbit-hole of an endeavor because no one really knows where it comes from or who first started making it or why. All that speculation has generated a host of interesting theories, some of which are rooted in actual historical records, some have aged into legend, while still others might have sprung from the pages of the National Enquirer.
There are a few things about Kombucha’s origins that we do know. It’s been around for at least 2000 years. It migrated from culture to culture, traveling along the Silk Road from Japan to China and Mongolia, north to Russia and then into Europe. It became especially popular in Germany, and eventually made its way to North America, where, most recently, hippies, health enthusiasts, and gut-loving folks like us have gradually increased its popularity to household-name status. This is what’s so incredibly cool about this multicultural, world-traveler of an ancient elixir: it lasted. And it’s still thriving today.
When talking to people about Kombucha and why we believe it literally cultivates health in your body, we like to use a phrase coined by our former staff mixologist and current juice provider, Joshua Pfeil: “Time tested, culture approved.” When something has lasted this long and traveled this far, it’s got to be good.
So what about all those theories and legends and mystical, survivalist stories involving Japanese samurai and Chinese Emperors and Genghis Khan armies? We’re going to tell those stories here.
Think of this part of the blog as a choose your own adventure game of sorts, a magic portal that transports you to ancient cultures and distant lands, tracing the meandering paths of our resilient ingredient friends, Bacteria and Yeast, as they spread their funktional goodness around the globe.