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A History of the World in 6 Glasses
Transcript of A History of the World in 6 Glasses
The gathering of wild grains became widespread in what is now Egypt stretching to Turkey, and down to the border between Iraq and Iran (Fertile Crescest, Mesopotamia and Egypt). Evidence was found that there were harvesting tools for cereal grains; stone hearths for drying them, baskets for carrying them, and underground pits for storing them.
Humans first adopted farming in the Fertile Crescent. Although the precise reason for why and when it happened the way it did is not known. A theory however is that part of the reason for the adoption of farming was to keep the supply of beer. Humans began to cultivate grains such as barely and wheat, instead of simply gathering and storing wild grains.
The recorded history of beer and everything else began when writing first emerged in Sumer. Mesopotamians saw beer as a hallmark of civilization. This is specifically shown in the world's first great literary work, Epic of Gilgamesh.
Wine was first produced during the Neolithic period, according to archaeological evidence in the Zagros Mountains (modern Armenia and northern Iran). Three factors; availability of cereal crops, presence of the wild Eurasian grape vine, and around 6000 BCE pottery was invented which help make, store, and serve wine.
King Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria hosted one of the greatest feasts in history, to mark the inauguration of his new capital at Nimrud. The king served ten thousand skins of wine, which displayed and demonstrated his wealth. This was a turning point; wine became to be seen as social as well as a religious beverage and became popular throughout the Near East and Mediterranean. This made wine production increase and wine, making wine available over a larger area.
The symposion, a private all-male aristocrat drinking ritual/party in Ancient Greece was invented. This was a ritual that distinguished Greeks’ association with wine from other cultures, because they mixed wine with water before consumption. The ritual began with the serving of food, tables were then cleared and the wine was brought out. As Athenian tradition, three liberations were poured; one to the fallen heroes, one to the gods, and one to Zeus the king of all gods. Then the drinking would begin.
The Romans caught up fast as they cultivated vines just like the Greeks. The italian peninsula displaced the Greeks and became the world’s foremost wine producing region and became the leading power in the Mediterranean. Italy became the new center of trade.
One of the greatest wine tastings in history took place in the imperial cellars in Rome. Galen, the personal physician to the emperor at the time, Marcus Aurelius was present. He was on a mission to find the best wine in the world. Galen’s interest in wine was mainly professional; he used wine to disinfect wounds, as medicine, and wine-based remedies. Galen was attempting to prove a theory about the four humors.
A professor at the French medical school Montpellier, known as Arnald of Villanova, produced instructions for distilling wine. Aqua vitae as they called it seemed supernatural since it has a much higher alcohol content than any drink that is produce by natural fermentation. People saw it as a water of immortality because they claimed it prologued life, cleared away illness, revived the heart and, maintained youth.
European slave traders began to trade brandy (spirits) to African traders for slaves. As they quickly realized that brandy allowed more alcohol to be packed into a smaller space in the ship, and it was less likely to spoil than wine. Africans valued distilled spirits because it was more concentrated than what they had. This became a mark of distinction among African slavers. Brandy was also used as a form of pay for others in this trade like canoemen and guards.
Rum was created in Barbados, made from the waste products of the sugar-production process itself by planters. Rum spread throughout the Caribbean and beyond. It soon became popular among sailors as well. Rum was also used as medicine, and slaves were often rewarded with rum after completing special tasks. As the popularity of rum increased, so did the slaves on the island.
Rum became the “chief barter” on the slave coast of Africa, even for gold. Canoemen and guards were no longer paid in brandy, but in rum. Rum was the result of the convergence of materials, people, and technologies from around the world, producing historical forces. Rum closed the triangle between spirits slaves and sugar. It was the “triumph and oppression of the first era of globalization.”
The Molasses act was put into place in New England. Although the act was not harshly enforced, it was resented. If the act had been forced, it could have caused distillers to cut production and raise their prices, bringing an end to the prosperity in New England; rum, consisting of 80 percent of all exports. Smuggling was basically made socially acceptable, it showed no respect for British law, and the colonists felt they could defy other laws imposed by the British government. As a result of this, the defiance of the Molasses Act was an early step in the road to American Independence.
After the practice of making a liquid drink out of coffee beans was seen as Yemeni innovation, coffee spread throughout the Arab world and reached Mecca and Cairo. Coffee became a social drink instead of sticking to its religious associations. It was sold by the cup on the street, in the market square and then coffeehouses. In fact coffee was embraced as a legal alternative to alcohol and wine by many Muslims.
The first coffeehouse in London was opened by Pasqua Rosee. During the rest of the 1650s and 1660s many parts of western Europe like Britain and Amsterdam began opening coffeehouses across the country. By 1663 London had over eighty-three coffeehouses and by the end of the century there were hundreds of them. Many men met in coffeehouses to discuss business as a coffeehouse was a respectable public place.
King Charles II issued a “Proclamation for the suppression of Coffee-houses”. He declared that coffee produced very evil and dangerous effects. However the proclamation was ignored, undermining the government’s authority. Coffee had become the central to social, commercial, and political life in London. The king issued a further proclamation, but was soon dropped, for not even he could stop the march of coffee.
The Dutch were the first to break the Arab monopoly of coffee. They displaced the Portuguese as the dominant European nation in the East Indies and gained control of the spice trade and briefly becoming the world’s leading commercial power. The Dutch then established coffee plantation in the East India Company. Soon the Dutch were granted the control of the coffee market, and the Arabian coffee was unable to compete on price.
The significance of coffeehouses became apparent in London during this time, as the city consumed the most coffee in the world during this time. Coffeehouses functioned as information exchanges for scientists, businessmen, writers and politicians. Coffeehouses were also associated with specific trades and acting as meeting places.
The first cup of tea was brewed by the second of China’s legendary emperors, Shen Nung, according to chinese tradition. He was credited for the inventions of agriculture, and the plow, and the discovery of medicinal herbs. The legend says he was boiling water when a few of the leaves of the branches of a wild tea bush, landed in the water and made for a refreshing drink.
The latest Chinese knowledge about anything having to do with tea was brought to Japan, by a Buddhist monk named Eisai. The idea of tea ceremony was then created in Japan. Japanese tea ceremony is a very serious and and an almost mystical ritual that can take more than one hour. It has very specific instructions that must be followed step by step. Tea ceremony filtered tea through hundreds of years of accumulated customs and rituals.
The Dutch ship tea for the first time and bring it to Europe. Tea reached France in the 1630s and England in the 1650s. Although it was not until after 1662 when King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza, the daughter of the king of Portugal. By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly everyone was drinking it, regardless their status in society.
The East India Company gets the British to put into place the Tea Act of 1773. The American colonists grew furious, for their prosperity depended on being able to trade without interference with London. In order to smuggle tea from the Netherlands, which was cheaper for them. The colonists boycotted British goods and to the government, as they resented the government’s way of handing the East India Company a monopoly of selling tea. This resulted in the Boston Tea Party of 1773, in which protesters dressed up as indians and tipped 342 chests of tea into the water. This soon led to the American Revolution, resulting in independence.
The East India Company began a large-scale production of tea in Assam, India, in order to rely less on tea from China. The first shipment of Indian grown tea reached London in 1838. The tea merchants were very impressed by its quality, and decided to allow others to establish tea plantations by renting out the land and taxing the resulting tea. Indian tea eventually became cheaper than tea from China and became the largest producer and consumer of tea in the world.
Carbonated water or “soda water” was produced by Joseph Priestley in England. This drink would later be known as the ancestor of Coca-Cola, and any other artificially flavored drinks. Using his laboratory and the brewery, Priestly investigated the properties of mysterious gas. Through some experiments Priestly discovered he could cause the gas to dissolve in the water, creating soda water. The “gas” as we now know, is carbon dioxide.
John Pemberton, a pharmacist who lived in Atlanta, Georgia, invented Coca-Cola, the drink that would eventually reach nearly every place on earth. According to the company’s official version, Pemberton was trying to find a cure for headaches and stumbled upon the ingredients by accident. However the real story is much different. Pemberton like many others, was a maker of patent medicines, who went bankrupt in 1872, but continued to make new patent medicines in hopes one would make him rich. Finally thanks to two extremely popular ingredients at the time, coca and kola. The name was French Wine Coca. However alcohol was prohibited in Atlanta for two years, and thus Pemberton was forced to find a non-alcoholic remedy. He began to work on a “temperature drink” (soda-water), and in May 1886 Coca-Cola was made.
Annual sales exceeded 76,000 gallons. Coca-Cola was being sold in every state in America and thus becoming a National drink. The rapid growth however, was possible because the Coca-Cola company only sold syrup. Candler was worried that by selling the finished product of syrup mixed with soda water in bottles, the taste would suffer during storage.
Bottled Coca-Cola is introduced. This made sales distinctively increase since it opened up entirely new markets, allowing Coca-Cola to be sold anywhere from sporting events to grocery stores. Candler had not been very interested in the idea of bottled Coca-Cola, believing it would fail, but granted the right to bottle the product to two business men. They eventually sold bottling rights to others in return for a big part of the profits. This created a franchise business and made Coca-Cola available in every town in village in the United States.
After the United States was brought into World War II, in 1941, and sent its soldiers out into the world, Coca-Cola followed them. American soldiers were provided with Coca-Cola throughout the whole war, bringing it where they fought, constantly reminding them of home and what they were fighting for. In 1945 the United States was victorious in war. By this time Coca-Cola had been established in every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.
What will be the next beverage to create history......
Beer was widespread throughout the Middle East. Many cultural traditions associated with beer were created and some of them survive to this day.
Beer was given as payment; for a bride’s family from the grooms family, or to women and children after working for a few days at the temple. In particular occasions, scribes, policemen, and soldiers also received special payments of beer, or messengers as a bonus payment.
Beer was also used as payment as shown in the Egypt's Giza plateau. Workers who built the pyramids were paid in beer, usually 3-4 loaves of bread and 4 liters of beer. Managers and higher officials received higher payments of beer and bread.
in Mesopotamia and Egypt
in Greece and Rome
In the Colonial Period
In the Age of Reason
and the British Empire
green and black tea
and the rise of America
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
By: Tom Standage