Kargasok Tea, Part Deux

I am sitting at a business I won’t name but is fairly easily summized if you know your Portland businesses.  Somebody has abandoned an untapped bottle of Kombucha Tea — I suppose bought for an hour of wi-fi access?  I grab the bottle to take a look at the typical spiel of this drink.  From out of the Himalayans, this cured the man’s mom’s cancer, now the elixir is bottled for your purchase.

I don’t know if I should bother with it.  I can basically guarantee I will not like it, but there is a science experiment here.  Compare this quote in quote “raw” Kombucha with what I encountered in one of its various mythical spots of origin — Kargasok, 15 hours up the Ob River from Novisibirsk — under the name “Kargasok Tea”, the home-made fungi fermented in a musky water.  Surviving to become centurians they do, so I hear — though  if they indeed do it may come from the creative way they stuff fish into dishes you never imagined fish could fit into.  Anytime I have shown anyone a photograph of the musty bottle of Kargasok Tea, the reaction was either “That looks disgusting” or “You … drunk … that?”  Also, one man’s ords of wisdom alon the lines of “Don’t drink the water” (when in a quasi-remote place on the globe… probably more to the point, when somewhere you must dart off to an outhouse to do your business).

Since the bottle is clear, meaning one can see the liquid, and something that elicits the reaction of “You drunk that?” is not terribly marketable, even if one cynically thinks something from the far-splung corners of the globe with a natural tinge can be exoticized — the relative “raw”ness of “Raw” Kombucha is something I have to question.

The problem is a science experiment falls apart.  It has nearly been a decade.  I have no real basis for comparison.  It surely is more or less sanitized, but beyond that I’ve got nothing.  There is no point in drinking this.  Leave it there, a product of romanticized Orientalism, as well an odd remnant of an accidental location.


A few days later, I watch a “Crystal Stroker”, the type I imagine this drink’s appeal fits the wheelhouse for, is drinking it, while laying out a batch of tarot cards to read some people’s fortunes.  I trust she is a believer in the power of the Kombucha, and all that represents.  I would like to mind-meld with her just enough to transport my impressions of Kargasok, one of the origin points of that which she is drinking.  I imagine she holds no romantic notion of, say for example, Dix, Nebraska , meaning I wouldn’t see why she would end up with a similar romantic notion of that town in Siberia… Never mind that her drink is all natural and herbal, and I don’t believe it would change her worldview (which is innocuous enough, and seems pleasant), and it’s far from central to anything here, but maybe it’s a small splinter in a small splinter of the picture worth grounding.

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