History of Kombucha
Kombucha you say? But where on earth does it come from?
Whether you’ve been knocking back the booch for years or are relatively new to kombucha, you may not be too familiar with the origins of kombucha. While its presence in the UK was largely influenced by its popularity in the US and Australia, the history of kombucha spans back much further, so where did it all start? Here we explore the origins of kombucha, how it all started and how the trend continues to grow.
Origins of Kombucha
The history of kombucha is shrouded in mystery and hotly debated, but the general consensus is that this ancient tonic originated in ancient China over 2000 years ago in the Qin Dynasty (220BC). The Chinese people labelled it the “Elixir of Life” – with the wonderful healing properties kombucha is known to have, it is not surprising that people used to drink it to stay healthy and protect their immune system! Some more Kombucha buzzwords you might hear are “Tea of Immortality” & “Wonder Tea”. In the 1960s, kombucha was a kitchen staple in many Chinese homes and often referred to as “weibao” or “weipao” (stomach treasure).
Others claim that Kombucha originated in Japan and that samurai warriors used to carry Kombucha in their belts and drank it before battle as it gave them a vital source of energy! Other legends point to a Korean doctor of the name “Komu-ha” or “Dr. Kombu” who used it to treat the Japanese Emperor Inyoko in 414 CE.
Kombucha in the West
Later on, in the early 20th century, Kombucha became popular in Russia and Europe, where it was used, largely in Russia and Germany for medical purposes and to help soldiers injured in World War I.
Then World War II hit and rations made it very hard for sugar to come by – an important ingredient for fermentation, which meant kombucha was almost impossible to find. Kombucha is made by brewing green tea with raw cane sugar before combining with the all-important Kombucha Culture (or SCOBY) and fermenting to break down the sugars into organic acids, vitamins and ‘good bacteria’.
Then, once the war was over, there was a somewhat revival in the popularity of kombucha. During the swinging sixties, especially in California, households would brew kombucha and then pass the SCOBY along to friends to grow their own, which is how it got the nickname ‘groovy tea’ back in the day!
When did Kombucha come to the UK?
Kombucha only really started to pop up in shops and restaurants in the UK in the last decade or so. Initially it was mainly independent shops and cafes that sold kombucha before the big-name supermarkets began to catch on over the last few years. Those in the know on the other hand have been home brewing their own tasty booch for decades!
The History of Equinox Kombucha
We’ve been brewing our beautiful booch since 2012 and what a journey it’s been! We first discovered ‘the elixir of life’ when backpacking in Asia and couldn’t get enough of it, which is why we decided to open our own microbrewery in Hebden Bridge. Fast forward to now and we’re now one of the leading producers of kombucha in the UK, with countless ‘Great Taste’ awards to our name and an exclusive range with chef extraordinaire Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The popularity of Kombucha today
Kombucha is currently enjoying a resurgence and continues to rise in both popularity and market share in the beverage industry. Many Kombuchas (including ours!) can now be found in supermarkets, restaurants and popular health stores. Kombucha’s explosion in popularity is part of a wider sea-change in attitude towards what we put into our bodies, coupled with a growing interest in fermented foods and the associated health benefits.With more and more people- especially millennials – consciously choosing to adopt a more holistic, nutritious lifestyle, we are incredibly excited for what the future holds, and encourage you all to join the kombucha revolution.
You can find Equinox Kombucha in Waitrose and Co-op, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods Market, Abel & Cole and in a range of pubs and restaurants including All Bar One and Castle Pubs.