Things You Should Know: The History of Drinks

Beverages make the world go round.  They have and continue to shape the world.  The five drinks that were popular hundreds to thusands of years ago are still popular today.  Let’s take a look at them.


Beer was fermented from barley approximately 6,000 years ago by the Sumerians.

It was used to pay people for their work and therefore is known as “the drink of the working man.”


There is uncertainty to when wine started.  However, there is certainty to it being at least as old as beer or maybe even older.

The difficulty in making and storing wine plus the expense associated with it made wine rise ahead of beer in popularity, especially in religious ceremonies as well as with the wealthier class.


Spirits have been sustaining us since the 15th century, starting with European sailors.

Spirits, especially rum, played a major role (maybe more than tea) in the movement for independence by the British American colonies. They were also very important in trading  between African, British, and North American colonies.


Coffee started in the Arab world around the 15th century.

It became an alternative to alcohol and really grew in popularity during the 18th century and the Age of Reason.  It was promoted as the drink that “sharpens the mind” making the coffeehouse the place people went to exchange ideas.


Tea started in China in the 3rd century.

Tea provided energy to the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th century keeping factory workers alert during long hours.  It soon became a popular beverage around cities thanks to its high health benefits.

This is a just a very small snap shot of these five drinks, so if you are interested in diving deeper, I highly recommend you buy a copy of Tom Standage’s great book, A History of the World in 6 Glasses.