Caffeine History

Caffeine History

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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