6GLASSES-PAPER - Justin Gardiner Professor Austin History...

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Justin Gardiner Professor Austin History and Evolution of Global Process 14 April 2008 A History of the World in Six Glasses In Tom Standage’s book, “A History of the World in Six Glasses,” the world’s history is portrayed through the story of six individual drinks, not to be confused with the actual history of the six drinks. Beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola were the drinks to be focused on. The two in which I will explain, compare, and contrast for the sake of this paper, are beer, and tea. These two drinks are an important part of today’s society and, believe it or not, had a lot to do with the progression of their respective mother civilizations, infecting and affecting other cultures along the way. Tea “If the sun never set on the British Empire, it was perpetually teatime, somewhere at least.” -Tom Standage, in response to Sir George Macartney’s quote of 1773. Categorized by Standage as “the drink that conquered the world,” (Standage 175) tea became a beverage consumed on a daily basis in China. The way the legend is outline in the book is “that Shen Nung was boiling some water to drink, using some branches from a wild tea bush to fuel his fire, when a gust of wind carried some of the plant’s leaves into his pot” (Standage 177). He found the concoction to be a delightful and
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pleasing drink. Of course, he goes on to explain that this fable, which is supposedly outline in Shen Nung’s treatise Pen ts’ao , is merely that, a myth that was possibly added later to the Pen ts’ao for there was no record of it in the earliest edition, which dates back to 25-221 CE, the days of the Neo-Han Dynasty. It is also noted that the tea leaf itself was not the mystery, and that it had been used in the past for the refreshing result when chewed, and the healing effect when it is rubbed on wounds. It is the drink that was revolutionary, and not found until a bit later. Pushing forward thousands of years, to the 17 th century is when tea really caught on in the western culture. A woman married to Charles II, known by the alias of Catherine of Braganza, sort of championed the idea of tea, making it trendy to drink in western customs. Though she may have been the first catalyst, it was the impact made by the British East India Company that really set things in motion. At first, during the late 1600’s, tea was scarce and of high value, being imported in very small amounts by Portuguese sailors. Only royalty and high ranking officers in the military could afford it. The first imports of tea by the East Indies Company came in 1669, slowly making tea more widely available. As it becomes more available, the chain reaction enables the price to drop, as it did in the early 1700’s, declining from 6-10 pounds to 4 pounds. During much of this time tea was still put in the luxury item category, having been overshadowed by coffee, due to coffee being so much cheaper. Though in the 18 th century, the mass expansion of tea made it become a necessity for even the poor, becoming cheaper than
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This note was uploaded on 06/07/2009 for the course CULF 1302 taught by Professor Garza during the Spring '09 term at St. Edwards.

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6GLASSES-PAPER - Justin Gardiner Professor Austin History...

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