Caffeine History: Prehistory
- 500,000 or more years ago
- Evidence suggests Paleolithic man is already drinking tea – camellia sinensis (K. Jelinek, Encyclopedia of Prehistoric Man). Exactly why or in what quantities is unknown, but the assumption is the caffeine or theanine content is the reason.
- 2737 BCE
- Chinese legend has it that tea is discovered by Emperor Shen Nung. This should probably be taken with a grain of salt, as he was also purported to have a transparent stomach (allowing him to watch the effects caffeine and various foodstuffs had on his body) and was reportedly poisoned 72 times in one day.
- 900 BCE
- The Greek historian Homer mentions a bitter drink that is capable of warding off sleep. This was probably strong brewed tea.
Caffeine History: Before 1000 AD
- 222 AD
- Chinese writing mentions tea as a substitute for wine (Dale Pendell, Pharmako Dynamis, 2002).
- Early 800s
- Tea reaches Japan under Emperor Saga and becomes popular.
- 850 AD
- Purported discovery of the coffee bean (and brewed coffee) by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed his animals ‘dancing’ after eating the red berries from a coffee bush. Coffee beans were already being consumed (ground and mixed with fat) in Northern Africa around this time.
- Late 800s to 1000 AD
- Tea becomes the national beverage in China, first tea houses documented.
Caffeine History: 1000 AD to present day
- 1100 – 1200 AD
- Tea plantations appear in Japan; coffee now cultivated in Arabic lands. “Qahwa”, the name for brewed coffee literally means, “that which prevents sleep.”
- 1400 – 1500 AD
- Coffee spreads through Northern Africa and the Middle East. It finds use in religious ceremonies that require long wakeful periods of devotion. In Turkey a man is required to supply his wife with a daily allotment of coffee or be liable to divorce.
- 1600 AD
- The Pope gives his blessing to coffee drinking, removing the sinful taint and making coffee socially acceptable.
- 1657 AD
- First tea sold to the public in England; imported by the Dutch East India Company.
- 1700 AD
- Tea is brought to America by colonists.
- 1773 AD
- Boston tea party in the American colony to protest high taxes on imported tea. The colonies now make a patriotic switch to coffee and tea never again dominates in America.
- 1819 AD
- German chemist, Friedrich Runge, discovers the active agent in coffee and names it kaffein.
- 1886 AD
- The first version of Coca-Cola is sold as a patent medicine. The kola nut ‘flavoring’ contains caffeine.
- 1903 AD
- Decaffeination is invented to extract caffeine from coffee beans. This eventually leads to cheap caffeine (the byproduct) which can then be sold for use in other beverages or medications.
- 1904 AD
- St. Louis World’s Fair – Richard Blechynden introduces “Indian tea”. To make it more attractive on a hot day, he serves it over ice – ice tea is invented.
- 1906 AD
- First mass-production of instant coffee.
- 1940 AD
- The U.S. is now consuming 70% of the world’s coffee output.
- 1946 AD
- Espresso machine is invented in Europe.
- 1960 AD
- Excedrin Extra Strength becomes the first multi-ingredient headache remedy to contain caffeine (along with acetaminophen and aspirin).
- 1971 AD
- Named after the first mate in the novel Moby Dick, the first Starbucks is opened.
- 1995 AD to Present
- Coffee is said to be the world’s most popular beverage, with more than 400 billion cups consumed a year. It is taken daily (in food or beverages) by an estimated 90% of the world’s population.
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