A Brief History of Kombucha and Its Origins

Updated: Aug 30

Hello again,

Are you the type of person who always wonders "Where did this come from?" or "How did this happen?". Like my dear husband, you may be the person who will walk under a rope and need to pull it... even if that means a bucket of white paint might fall on your head, you need to know just, well, just because you do! Or, like myself, are you the one who thinks, "Wow, this is amazing!" and just rolls on from there?

Well, most of us are a combination of both types of people. And while so much in our life will remain a mystery forever, let's talk about what we do know. A brief history of kombucha and its origins.

When I started making and drinking my Bucha, I was really only concerned with two things: how do I make it good for me, and how do I make it tasty. And here we are, years later, and we got the good stuff! I did finally come upon the history of kombucha thanks to (you guessed it) my sweet hubby. And guess what? It is interesting! So without further adieu, I present to you the following fun factorium of our favorite fizzy fun drink!

IN IN THE BEGINNING.......... 200 B.C.E Legend states that kombucha 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 the 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 to present 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, 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.

A A LITTLE MORE RECENT........... 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 During World War I, there was a great deal of culture sharing between Germany, Russia, and the United States. kombucha began to reach more countries and extended to North America for the first time.

1940 Since sugar is a key ingredient to creating kombucha, the rationing that took place during World War II made it increasingly difficult for Northern European countries to come by.

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 prevention 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, USA. It is used for its medicinal purposes and it coined “the grooviest tea around town”. It was common to brew kombucha in your own home and then share it with friends and family.

1972 The Summer Olympics, held in Munich, Germany, 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.

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. Join Mom's Bucha and help us to keep making kombucha history together in our own way!

Love, Mom

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All