Tea, Coffee & Chocolate
How We Fell in Love with Caffeine
Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
In her mouthwatering new book, Melanie King offers a concise cultural history. All three beverages hail from faraway places: tea came first from China, coffee from the Middle East, and chocolate from Central America. Physicians and politicians alike were quick to comment in newspapers and popular periodicals on their supposed perils or health benefits. Readers learn that coffee was recommended in the seventeenth century as protection against the bubonic plague. Tea was thought to make women unattractive and men “unfit to do their business,” while a cup of chocolate was supposed to have exactly the opposite effect on the drinker’s sex life and physical appearance. As consumption of these newly discovered delicacies grew, merchants seized on the opportunity by setting up coffee houses or encouraging ever-more-elaborate tea-drinking rituals.
Filled with fascinating and often funny anecdotes—from a goatherd whose flock became frisky after eating coffee berries to a duchess with a goblet of poisoned chocolate, Tea, Coffee & Chocolate shows how the rowdy initial reception of these drinks forms the roots of today’s enduring caffeine culture.