A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Published: 2021-07-18 08:30:05
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A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage is about six drinks (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola) and how they have affected the world in the past and the present. All of these drinks were invented in different eras, and the inventions of these drinks were affected by what had occurred in the time period. There were many historical eras that are covered in the book. Beginning with the Stone Age, which was the time period beer was created.
The Stone Age is divided into three separate periods- Paleolithic Period, Mesolithic Period, and Neolithic Period- each period was based on the degree of sophistication in the fashioning and use of the tools. During this time period, people got there food and necessities by hunting and gathering. When beer was discovered/created Mesopotamians started farming rather than hunting and gathering. The second time period in which wine was created was the rise of the Greek and Roman empire. This time period was based on strong city-states, and when wine was discovered it became a part of Greek and Roman lifestyles.
Also political classes were partially based on the type and quality of wine you would drink. Having the access to wine showed whether you were rich or poor, it showed your status in social life. The third time period was the Age of Exploration. During this time period spirits were discovered by the distillation (the process of purifying a liquid by boiling it and condensing its vapors) of wine. During the Age of Exploration explorers from around the world would sail on ships in search of new land. They searched for new land they could conquer for their country or to find trading routes as well.
They also explored to spread their religion, to become famous (if they did discover something), and to get some money as well. This is the time period when America was discovered. Spirits were drunk on ships throughout voyages. They were drunk on voyages because sailors would get a sickness called scurvy (which is a sickness caused by the lack of vitamin C), and the spirit that would cure it was called aqua vitae. The fourth time period is the Age of Reason which was the time period coffee was discovered/created. The Age of Reason represented the way man viewed himself, the pursuit of knowledge, and the universe.
The Age of Reason encouraged intellectual freedom, freedom of religious beliefs, and politics. During this period, many people wanted to prove Greek philosophers wrong and rebuild human knowledge. Also during this period, coffee determined social status as well. As coffee grew in its popularity, coffeehouses were being built. Coffeehouses were the place where people could come and talk about politics, news, and gossip. The fifth time period was the Industrial Revolution in England where tea played a major role. Once tea had been discovered people thought it was an interesting drink.
One of the main parts of the Industrial Revolution began in England was because of tea. Many people enjoyed drinking tea, so there was a higher demand for tea. To transport tea to Europe faster, it was brought by steam ships. Also because of the higher demand for tea, people began to make machines that would help pack tea. During the eighteenth century to the twenty first century coca-cola was invented/created and has changed over many years. During this time businesses and industries began to grow, manufactured items and technologies were being invented, and the medical field was making big advances.
In this period, coca-cola was sold in pharmacies and was used as a medicine. Even coca-cola was a medicine, people still drank it because of its taste and how refreshing it was. So eventually coca-cola became a beverage as well. Throughout all of these eras, these six drinks have evolved and changed the world in many ways (both positively and negatively). There are two reoccurring themes throughout this book. The first theme is how the six drinks (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola) have impacted the world. The second theme is that each drink has some kind of medicinal purpose.
Whether the drink did not work as a medicine or it did. Each drink has changed the world in many ways (good or bad). Starting with beer, beer steered people out of the hunting and gathering way of life into the agricultural lifestyle. People grew grains in order to make beer, but eventually in gave the people the idea that can also grow more crops instead of just grain. “Beer drinking was one of the many factors that helped tip the balance away from hunting and gathering and towards farming and sedentary lifestyle based on small settlements”. Beer was also safer to drink than water because water was mostly contaminated.
In the Stone Age, beer became the main drink, and it is still a popular drink today. Wine has also impacted the world in many ways. If wine hadn’t been invented or discovered we would not have vineyard farming today. Wine was a very popular drink during the Roman and Grecian era. In fact wine was the main drink. Greek and Roman men would have get togethers called symposia. The sophisticated, formal, and intellectual atmosphere of the symposion reminded the Greeks of how civilized they were. It reminded that they weren’t just there to drink wine, they were there to discuss many things as well. Wine determined your rank in social class.
As Tom Standage stated “Wine was a mark of status”. Wine became the main alcoholic drink in this time period and it is still popular today. Wine became so popular that it is in certain religions and even served as offerings to gods/goddesses. Spirits have impacted the world by playing a major role in the trade of slaves. During the triangle trade between Europe, Africa, and the East Indies they traded rum (another kind of spirit), iron, sugarcane, and slaves. During this time wine was used as a form of currency to trade between European slave traders, but they soon realized that brandy was better to trade with.
Brandy allowed for alcohol to fit in smaller places inside ships. Also brandy contained more alcohol in it so it stayed fresh longer than wine. European slave started to offer spirits, like brandy, to Africans before they started to trade. . “The connections between spirits, slaves, and sugar were further strengthened following the invention of a powerful new drink made from the waste products of the sugar-production process itself. That drink was rum. ” Coffee has changed the world in many too as well. As coffee became popular it started to become a social drink.
Coffeehouses began to open for people to drink some coffee and just talk about stuff. Because of these coffeehouses it opened the minds of people and let them hear other’s opinions on a certain subject. Eventually these opinions led to discoveries and information that has impacted and changed the world. “Coffee promoted clarity of thought, making it the ideal drink for scientists, businessmen, and philosophers”, stated Standage. Not only do scientists, businessmen, and philosophers drink it, but many people including kids/teens drink it today just to get a boost of energy.
A popular coffee store today is Starbucks, and it is opened everywhere around the world. Coffee is in people’s daily routines/lives. Without coffee the world would be really different, so coffee has changed the world a lot. Tea also impacted the world (especially Europe) because it was also a drink that you could socialize with others and still enjoy a nice cup of tea. Tea was a social drink, but it was more formal than other drinks like coffee or alcoholic drinks. Coffeehouses then began to start serving tea. Tea slowly began to become popular, and like coffee tea opened people’s mind and let them listen to other’s thoughts.
Then ideas began to spread again, and those ideas would then impact the world in some way, shape or form. When tea became popular, China opened up trade routes with Europe and the East, and sparked the trading of other goods through Europe. Tea became so popular in Europe, that people began to have tea time. Without tea, China would not have had major trade routes with Europe and the East. Coca-cola has changed the world in many ways as well. Coke is one of the main drinks all across the globe today. It became one of the first carbonated beverages, which eventually sparked the idea of other people making other carbonated drinks.
Like other sodas, coke was sold in pharmacies and was originally a patent medicine. But as time went on, people began to drink Coke because it was a refreshing drink, and eventually Coke became a normal beverage. Coke isn’t just a normal beverage though because it has impacted the world in the past and still in the present. The second theme of the book is that every drink had a medicinal purpose. “Beer also had a more direct link to health, for both the Mesopotamians and Egyptians used it medicinally,” says Standage. Beer was used as an alternative for water because water was mostly contaminated and it wasn’t very safe to drink.
Beer was a safer option because it consisted of boiled water which was less likely to be contaminated. Beer was also used for medicine because it could dissolve ingredients for medicines better than water. Egyptians began to make medicines with beer in it during 1550 BCE. For example they used “Half an onion mixed with frothy beer was said to cure constipation”, “powdered olives mixed with beer cured indigestion”, and “a mixture of saffron and beer massaged into a woman’s abdomen was prescribed for labor pains”. So Egyptians found many ways to use beer as a medicine.
Wine also had some medicinal qualities. For example when warriors/soldiers were injured wine would be used to disinfect their wounds. A doctor named Galen believed that wine could cure colds as well. “The better the wine, Galen believed, the more medicinally effective it was. ” But once when spirits were discovered, they replaced wine because people believed it worked better than wine. Doctors and other people believed if wine could cure sicknesses so well, then distilled wine (spirits) would have stronger healing powers. People believed this because spirits has a higher alcohol content than wine.
Aqua vitae was a spirit that had a higher alcohol content than any other spirit because it had superior healing powers. Aqua vitae was known to treat: diseases of the brain, nerves joints, revive the heart, calm toothaches, cure blindness, and even protect against the plague. Even though aqua vitae is said to cure all of those things, it actually did not cure any of those problems. All aqua vitae did was intoxicate people easily and quickly. Coffee and tea were not really medicinal drinks. People didn’t really use them often as medicine.
When people would have headaches they would drink coffee to make the pain not as bad because of the effects of caffeine. People drank tea when they had a cold or sore throat to also ease away the pain and suffering. Besides the fact that coffee and tea would stimulate your mind, they did not really have a medicinal use. Coca-cola was originally sold in pharmacies only for medicinal use. The inventor of Coca-cola was John Pemberton. Before coca-cola Pemberton made many medicines in America that were popular. But soon his business began to drop, and he needed to make a new and improved medicine.
How Pemberton made Coca-cola is that he was trying to make a medicine that would reduce/get rid of headache pain. Coca-cola is partially made from the coca plant from South America and it had a stimulating effect on people (because if you chewed them they had a little cocaine). At the time doctors did not know that cocaine was an addictive drug, so they used it in their medicine. Pemberton studied the coca plant for years, and he decided to put the plant in his patent medicine. Then years later he added the kola nut for some flavoring, and soon Pemberton made the concoction we know today as Coca-cola.
“It was nonalcoholic and it appealed as both a soda-water flavoring and a patent medicine”. Because Coca-cola was nonalcoholic and had soda-water flavoring made it very popular. In advertisements, Coca-cola was said to cure: nervous affections, headaches, neuralgia, hysteria, and melancholy. The book has affected me in many ways. For example, when I see one of the six drinks I have read, I now know on how it was created and what time periods it was created. The book also helped me realize that anything can actually impact the world greatly.
Before I read the book, I thought there was no way six drinks could have impacted the world at all. But after I read the book, I thought/realized that these six drinks have impacted the world so much in so many ways. The themes of A History of the World in 6 Glasses are relevant to today’s society. Each drink has changed the world in many ways. For example in Europe, tea was so popular people would have tea time just to enjoy a cup of tea and discuss some things. Tea time still exists in Europe. Wine became so popular that it became a part of many religions and it impacted many religious beliefs.
Many people also drink Coca-Cola and coffee often today. People drink coffee in the morning to get a boost of energy to start off their day, and people drink Coke just as a refreshing beverage or at parties. What would the world be like if these six drinks were not invented? There would be no bars, Starbucks, no tea, and no Coke; honestly this would have been a sad world if these drinks weren’t invented. My opinion about this book in relation to the major points, themes, and author’s point of view is that it was an interesting book, but it was also boring as well.
I thought that the themes of the book were great (especially the theme about each drink having a medicinal purpose). That was my favorite theme because just the subject of doctor stuff makes me very interested. The part that made it boring was that I didn’t really like reading the spirits section because I thought the author would just get off topic on certain points, and there wasn’t anything very interesting in that chapter. But in conclusion the book was good, but I wouldn’t really want to read it again.

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