The Cultural Evolution of Kombucha

December 7, 2017

Kombucha is an ancient drink that has recently soared in popularity. But its mysterious origins are largely unknown. From ancient health elixir to latest health craze, the cultural evolution of kombucha is a fascinating story.


Kombucha’s Origins

No one know for certain what kombucha’s true origins are, but it is widely believed to originate during the Quin Dynasty in China more than 2,000 years ago. According to popular legend, the kombucha tea was known as the “Tea of Immortality,” and widely acclaimed for its health-boosting properties. From there, the tea’s popularity spread to Korea, Japan, and then later to Russia via the Silk Road.

Many legends surround kombucha, including:

  • The drink is named after Dr. Kombu, a Korean doctor, who first brought kombucha as a gift to Japanese Emperor Inyoko in 414 AD
  • Kombucha was given to Samurai warriors to boost their energy in battle
  • Genghis Khan’s army drank kombucha during their conquests
  • Kombucha saved Nobel Prize winner Alexsander Solzhenitsyn’s life during his exile
  • Whole populations of people were unaffected by radiation from Cheronobyl, thanks to kombucha tea

What we know for sure is kombucha was widely used in Siberia during the 19th century, where it was known as “tea kvass.” Back then, kombucha was used as a natural medicine, not as the tasty, refreshing beverage we consume today.

In fact, credit for kombucha’s resurgence in popularity after WWII goes to Dr. Rudolph Skelnar, who gave it to his patients to treat chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.


Modern Kombucha

Today, kombucha is shrouded in mystery and controversy. Despite attempts to discredit its health benefits and to even label it as dangerous, kombucha is enjoyed by millions of enthusiasts. It has even been named, “the fastest-growing product in the functional beverage market,” with sales estimates of up to $1.8 billion by 2020.

With a tangy taste, refreshing effervescence and many delightful flavors and juice blends to choose from, modern kombucha is as delicious as it is good for you. The mysterious cultural evolution of kombucha —  from medicinal tea to refreshing health drink — just makes this special drink more alluring.

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