A Brief History of Kombucha and It's Health Benefits

At this point, almost everyone has tasted or at least heard of kombucha. Heavily associated with health food stores and hipsters, it has broken into the mainstream and can be found almost anywhere now. It is no secret that we are a bit obsessed with kombucha over at Boochcraft. It is a central ingredient for our high alcohol kombucha and has been a source of inspiration for us since the beginning. In order to continue crafting the most delicious hard kombucha on the market, we want to take a step back and dive into the history of this amazing drink. As we jump into this interesting history, keep in mind, that since this dates back to 200 BCE and there is a lot of information that has been lost and a ton of myth that has wound its way around its origins. We created an easy timeline for you to follow to get some of the key facts and establish a general history of how society enjoyed and evolved kombucha as a beverage with health benefits. So pop open your favorite flavor of Boochcraft and settle in for this journey that dates back thousands of years.  

The Early Historical Origins of Kombucha

200 B.C.E Legend states that Kombucha was originated during the Qin Dynasty, around 200 BCE. It is said that Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi was the first to make this fermented drink. It is well recorded that both tea and fermentation was widely popular in China at this time, so it is logical to believe that this is where Kombucha was first “discovered”. This all happened at a similar time as Great Wall was being constructed and while it was the Emperor's claim to fame, he was also notorious for restricting knowledge, so not much has been left over from Kombucha at this time. 414 A.D. A Korean doctor named, Dr. Kombu comes to Japan and presents what he calls “the elixir of life”. Dr. Kombu brought the beverage to the Japanese Emperor Inyoko during his travels and the emperor was so impressed with the fermented drink that he named it after the doctor himself. The term “cha,” meaning “tea” in Japanese, and was added to his name after discovering its enhancing properties. It is said that the tea was popular among the samurais and gave them a great deal of energy during battle.

Modern Kombucha History

1913 Homemade kombucha is said to have saved a village from an epidemic. When a virus broke out in a rural area of Germany, researches were sent to find a cure. They came across a village near the infected area that seemed to be immune. It was concluded that a homemade kombucha remedy is what kept the villagers from falling ill. 1915 Germany begins to accept and adopt Chinese medical practices. In Germany, kombucha is hailed for its probiotics and ability to boost the overall health of a patient. Dr. Rudolf Sklenar created renewed interest in kombucha in Germany when he used it in his practice to treat patients. He compared the health benefits to that of yogurt and used it often in his treatment plans. 1917 Kombucha began to reach more countries and extended to America for the first time. During World War I, there was a great deal of culture sharing between Germany, Russia, and the United States. 1940 Due to rationing that took place during World War II, Europe could no longer afford kombucha. Sugar was a key ingredient to creating kombucha and it became increasingly difficult for Northern European countries to obtain it. 1944 Kombucha gets its first major mention in an American publication. An article by The New York Times states, “The chemical is a fermentation product of a substance named kombucha, used by the native medicine men of Siberia and Manchuria as a cure and preventative for diseases of old age, such as hardening of the arteries. A sample of kombucha was obtained by Dr. Hermann in 1935 from Soviet scientists.”  1960s Kombucha gains major popularity in California. It is used for its medicinal purposes and it coined “the grooviest tea around town”. It was common to brew kombucha at your own home and then share it with friends and family. 1972 The Summer Olympics, held in Munich saw a resurgence of kombucha among the Soviet athletes. They claimed it was a performance enhancer and that it is rich in organic and amino acids, active enzymes, and polyphenols. The Soviet team went on to win 50 gold medals during these Summer Games. 1981 Homemade kombucha techniques spread throughout hippie communities. This is also the time that the HIV/AIDS crisis breaks and kombucha is used as a medical elixir to help fight the epidemic.

Kombucha Goes Mainstream

1995 America’s first kombucha brand was founded. After discovering kombucha’s effect on cancer during his mother’s fight against breast cancer, GT Dave established the first and largest kombucha brand in the industry.  1996 Len Porizo, a kombucha enthusiast, coins the term SCOBY – the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This differentiated the mucus-like kombucha culture from the liquid kombucha tea. 2007 For the first time, kombucha was offered on tap by tea brand, Aqua ViTea. This revolutionary movement inspired martinis, candies, ale, and more. Opening up kombucha to entire markets that it had never reached. 2011 Kombucha is used for the first time to create a fabric that fashion designer, Suzanne Lee, used to create an entire line of clothes. Using the fermentation process to create nanofibers of cellulose that eventually form into a fiber that can be sewn into clothing. 2012- Today California is introduced to high alcohol kombucha. Brewed locally with organic ingredients, Boochcraft offers an alternative to beer or wine. Kombucha has gained even more popularity and has extended its reach into mainstream circles. It is used for a wide variety of products and can be found in a ton of different places. More research is being done on it to further explore it’s health benefits and properties. Kombucha has obviously had a long journey to become what it is today. Emerging from myths and legends it has steadily been revered as a powerful drink with multiple beneficial properties. Over at Boochcraft we are dedicated to honoring this one of a kind drink and creating the most delicious and nutritious hard kombucha on the market. We stand for quality and take pride in sourcing the best fair trade organic ingredients that guarantee you the best taste. We are honored to be a part of this incredible history and look forward to contributing to it for years to come.