Aug 16, 2008

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 8

The rivalry between tea and coffee is much like the Hatfields vs. the McCoys. I happen to enjoy both beverages despite the commercial wars. St. Arbucks helped to make coffee the #1 hot beverage in the United States. However, thanks to online education, tea is once again rising in popularity.

Adagio Teas offered some interesting comparisons between tea and coffee in their online article, Tea vs. Coffee: The Battle for the Cup, asking, "Can't we all just get along?"

We'll begin at the most logical place: their origins. Both Coffee and Tea have legendary pasts. Tea, as discussed in a previous course, was discovered by the ancient Chinese ruler Shen Nung, when a fateful leaf fell into his boiling water. The similarly serendipitous story of Coffee dates back to the 1400's, when a Yemeni shepherd named Kaldi noticed that his sheep began to act unusually frisky after eating berries from a unfamiliar plant. Curious, Kaldi picked one and popped it into his mouth. Within a few minutes, he was as hyperactive as a kid after Halloween (well, Halloween wasn't practiced in Yemen, but you get the point). He told of his discovery of this stimulating shrub to a nearby town (called "Mocha") and its fame quickly spread.

Amazingly, the history of the two followed nearly identical paths. Coffee and tea were introduced to England within seven years of each other. Both were first enjoyed under the reign of Charles II (nicknamed "Milk and Sugar Charlie" for his fondness for these additions to both the drinks). In 1652, the first coffeehouse opened in England- the same year the first tea samples arrived to the country. Tea, however, became the favorite due to the fact that it was easier to make.

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♫ Karen