Kombucha is a very strong, fermented type of black or green tea. It originated in northeastern China, but the word's origin is officially uncertain. The most likely backstory is that somebody borrowed the Japanese word kombucha- but that they screwed it up. Kombucha actually translates into "kelp tea". There's a bit of a difference between fermentation and seaweed. Anyway, kombucha is broken down into kombu, a word describing that kind of kelp that goes into tea, and cha, meaning "tea". Kombu, which also exists as a word in the English language, was earlier spelled konfu or kofu. We're not sure where that comes from, but we know it emerged in the 12th or 13th century from mysterious origins. Cha is one of those universal words (like mama or papa), which sounds the same in almost every language. As for it, it's just a given that cha means "tea". We could delve into a bunch of convoluted linguistic theories about this, but I have to go sleep. This was fun.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.