THE CURIOUS CULTURAL CROSSING OF KOMBUCHA
Ah Kombucha, the fermented tea miracle health drink that’s taken the world by storm. Some people absolutely swear by it, while others can’t deal with its sour vinegar-like taste.
But whether or not you think Kombucha is worth the hype, did you know the craze goes as far back as Ancient China?
Well, it’s mostly just a theory, but there’s strong evidence to suggest that the drink was first invented in the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC, all thanks to one emperor – Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi – and his quest for immortality. China has a long and well-documented history of tea-making and fermentation processes, both of which are needed to make Kombucha, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe that the Chinese “discovered” Kombucha, which was then taken an “Elixir of Life” (not unlike how Kombucha fans see the drink now, really).
However, Kombucha didn’t get its modern name until 414 AD, when, supposedly, a Korean doctor named Kombu brought this “Elixir of Life” to the Japanese Emperor Inyoko, who was so impressed by the drink he named it –”Kombucha” – after him (with “cha” coming from the word for “tea” in Japanese). Others argue that Kombucha is actually a misapplied loanword taken from different fermented tea, as “Kombu” is also the name of a type of Japanese seaweed.
Regardless of its name origins, the Kombucha sensation continued to grow over time, becoming popular among samurais as an energy boost drink for battle, before later spreading across Asia, and then travelling along the silk road until it eventually reached Europe by the 1900s. Kombucha ended up being especially popular during WW1 among Russian and German soldiers for its medicinal properties, later becoming a staple health drink in the Westphalia region post-watertime.
Today, the reasons why people love Kombucha have not changed, as it's still seen as a super health drink, touted as an healthier alternative to beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Nadya Labiba is an Indonesian-Australian currently in her fourth year of Journalism and Languages and Cultures at University of Technology Sydney. Aside from interning at Captain Bagrat, Nadya is an avid community volunteer and a published contributor at Central News. LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadya-labiba-42141a15b/ Instagram @nadrlabiba