A brief history lesson
So as some of you know, i am doing a bachelors project on creating an alternative to leather, by growing bacterial cellulose from Kombucha. In my first post in the series, i wrote about the relevance of the project, and why both real and fake leather can be harmful for our environment.
In this post i will be writing about the history of kombucha, both in order to demystify the origins of the beverage, and to place it in a context of today.
I need to mention that the origins of Kombucha is not crystal clear. Many different claims of origins exist, ranging from China to Japan and to Russia, meaning that we cannot be completely sure about where it all began. As it is riddled in both myth and mystery, along with the fact that land borders have since changed, the exact location is hard to track down. This is further muddled by the fact that the Russians has a drink called “Kvass”, which somewhat resembles Kombucha in description (yemoos).
Nonetheless, the most consistent origin story does appear to link Kombucha with the far east, with most claims pointing towards ancient China, around 220 B.C, which is what i will be going with (forbes, theatlantic, livescience). Here, kombucha was known as the “Tea of immortality” , and was believed to have a wide range of beneficial properties, hence the name. According to myth, the tea was used to keep the emperor young and healthy , but since he isn’t really around anymore, that kinda answers whether “The tea of immortality” lives up to its name (kombuchakamp, drinkpreneur ).
Travelling to Europe
The very first definitive mention of kombucha comes from Russia and Ukraine, in the late 19th century. Kombucha became popular throughout Europe, as It was brought home from to Germany by Citizens who had been held in Russia as prisoners of war, during the first world war (theatlantic). Many people would have kombucha brewing in their cupboard, which they would share with friends and famiily, as a remedy for all sorts of illnesses
It fell out of popularity during the second world war, mostly due to shortages in the supply of tea and sugar, two fundamental parts of kombucha (forbes). However, once everything was getting back to normal, it quickly rose in popularity once again.
This was partly due to a 1960 Swizz study, comparing the health benefits of the beverage to that of yogurt, and later, in the 1990’es where people believed it to be a cure for nearly everything (Forbes). The beverage came into the public spotlight, first with the aids epidemic, and later with the rise in peoples awareness about probiotics. With people claiming it to cure almost everything, aids and cancer included, it quickly became one of the new icons for health fanatics. “Claimed” health benefits is quite a central word here.
How to trap a Hipster
Today, you'll often find the bearded hipster in his natural habitat, with a macbook under his arm, and a bottle of $6 Kombucha in his hand. If you ask him about it, he will likely rave about his gut bacteria, and how it has entered god mode since his introduction to Kombucha, so you might just want to avoid him. It does however seem to go beyond the common hipster now.
The Kombucha industry is becoming increasingly mainstream with companies like pepsi buying into the health trend. The market is rising, with some reports expecting it to reach $4,46 billion usd by 2024 (grandviewresearch). So if you haven’t heard of it yet, chances are that you will soon enough (well, at this point you have likely read my post, so of course you’ve heard of it, but you’ll likely hear MORE about it is what i mean). It can actually be quite a tasty drink, with a taste that somewhat resembles a good cider, so i do recommend you at least trying it.
At least in Denmark, it is still quite hard to find in stores, but it is extremely easy to make yourself. So if you like experimenting with new types of food, don’t hesitate to give it a shot. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to ask :)
As always, thanks for reading if you made it this far. I hope you’ll have a great day, and are staying warm and cozy.
Until next time.
PS. I tried keeping this post somewhat short, as i am experimenting with the right length of a post. It's pretty easy to ramble on about subjects that catches your interest, so i never know when to stop. If you have any input about it, please feel free to give constructive criticism... Or just tell me that the post sucks, it's a free world, for now :)