Just like any tradition that is thousands of years old, the where and when of Kombucha's beginnings are lost in time. Some say that as early as 200 years before Christ walked the earth, the Chinese were drinking a fermented tea they called Tea of Immortality, or Cha Gu. Others say Kombucha originated in Middle Eastern countries, but many claim that Russian peasants were the first to ferment this kind of medicinal tea. By the fifth century A.D., according to some, the drink had traveled to Japan, and became the routine beverage of Samurai warriors.
The first modern recorded history of kombucha dates to the late 18th century. At that time it is clear that Russians regularly brewed and drank what they called "tea kvass," or "cajnyj kvas." Later, during the cold war years, KGB agents investigated two different and isolated communities of rural Russian peoples because of their remarkably good health. The agents discovered that both communities made Kombucha part of their daily diet.
From Russia, Kombucha brewing spread to Prussia, Poland, Germany and Denmark. During the second world war, because of shortages of both tea and sugar, the drink's popularity lessened. However, after the war Dr. Rudolph Skelnar created renewed interest in Kombucha, called Heldenpilz, in Germany when he used it in his medical practice to treat patients with cancer, poor metabolism, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Wherever this special tea originated, it is now known throughout the world. It seems that almost every region of the inhabited globe drinks its own version of fermented tea. Each culture gives a different name to it, but the similarities in kombucha recipes are always there - tea, sweetener, and a starter.
And each country has its own stories about how the tea has appeared to have performed miracles. As a result of these glowing reports, the tea has taken on names such as miracle fungus drink, magical fungus tea, elixir of life, and gout tea.