Kombucha - the most ancient soft drink around today?
From 'groovy tea' to 'Elixir of Life' and 'Weibao'... kombucha has been called many names over the centuries and around the world.
So where and when was kombucha first brewed and drunk?
A number of ancient tales and legends provide some clues. It is believed the drink originated in China over 2000 years ago. This doesn't come as a great surprise as both tea and fermentation are important aspects of daily life in China, both today and historically. It is said that the the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, was the first to make and drink kombucha. The drink was thought to have magical health and immune boosting properties and was fabulously labelled an 'Elixir of Life'.
Fast forward to the 1960s and kombucha was a staple in most Chinese families' homes, often referred to as 'weibao' or 'Stomach Treasure' - what a poetic name for a drink!
Another narrative tells the story of a Korean doctor, Dr Komu-ha or Dr Kombu, who travelled to Japan in 414 AD with a magical fermented tea cure for the Japanese emperor suffering from digestive problems. Other stories tell of Japanese samurai warriors carrying kombucha in their belts to give them energy before a battle.
It's likely that the Silk Road trade route brought kombucha to Europe in the early 20th century, mainly to Germany and Russia where it was valued for its suspected healing properties - there are stories of kombucha being used to help wounded soldiers in the first world war. The shortage of tea and sugar after the war subsequently made it harder to brew kombucha in Europe. Luckily, the tradition was still preserved and passed down to us today. Home brewed kombucha became popular in the swinging 60's California, where it was referred to as the 'groovy tea'.
So although we can't be certain of exactly where or when kombucha started, we do know that it's been around for thousands of years and that throughout history people have believed the drink to provide longevity, energy and balance in their lives. We can't promise that kombucha will extend your life, we do think it is an awesome drink though that makes us feel really good!
|Written by Lotta Stanford, Jack's business manager. When she's not doing that, she can be found going for dips in the sea, getting muddy in the woods or foraging in the Cornish hedgerows.|