The 7 Drinks That Shaped Western Civilization

American writer Tom Standage wrote a book called “History in Six Bottles”. In the book, he divided Western history into six eras, and selected six beverages as their representative elements to analyze the development of Western civilization:

Beer – the iconic product of farming civilization. Beer is the product of human beings shifting from relying on gathering and hunting to living a farming and settled life, and there is a surplus of food. It has witnessed an important productivity leap in human society.

Wine—an important element in ancient Greek civilization, ancient Roman civilization, and Christian civilization. Wine is a symbol of power, wealth, and status. “People of different social status enjoy different grades of wine”, which reflects the hierarchical system and the gap between rich and poor in ancient Western society.

Spirits – a representative element of the colonial period. Strongly linked to historical slavery and exploitation, spirits were a major commodity traded on Africa’s “slave coast”, were the cause of tax riots in the United States, and helped shape early American policy and subsequent domestic order.

Coffee – a representative element of the rational age. Cafes all over Europe were once “the spiritual territory of Western literature and philosophical thinking”, “the birthplace of business innovation”, and “the hotbed of political change”. Coffee is now an indispensable drink in people’s daily life.

Tea – the drink that saw the expansion of the British Empire. Tea drinking originated in China, and the globalization of tea has witnessed the brutal colonial process of Britain from an island country to the “British Empire”. Tea trees were widely cultivated in India, and colonialism began to go hand in hand with industrialization.

Coke – a representative of American values. The rise of the United States’ international status and the development of trade globalization are all in sync with the popularity of Coca-Cola. The symbolic meaning of cola has gradually expanded to represent the values ​​of the entire western world-the capitalist market economic model and its values.

It can be said that behind every drink that “conquers” the world is a production method and value orientation, which is a clear clue in the history of Western civilization, colonization, and aggression.

After reading Standage’s book, I couldn’t help thinking about it—if we abandon the Western perspective and look at it from a global perspective, what kind of drink should be in the seventh bottle?

Some people say that the next drink that is popular in the world and penetrates the world may be a functional drink, which can help people quickly recover their physical strength and become a “lubricant” in a modern society where anxiety and stress are pervasive; The drink of the world will be mineral water, which represents natural health and a return to basics, which is the antidote for curing various ills in modern society.

I do think that the seventh bottle may contain a mixed drink. Today, when global cultures and economies are deeply integrated, it may be difficult to have a “dominant” drink, and there may be more and more drinks like Hong Kong’s Mandarin Duck Milk Tea – milk tea mixed with coffee.

In fact, most of the drinks in the first six bottles are the result of the competition and blending of different human civilizations: coffee originated in North Africa and Arabia, but it began to spread to the world from Europe; although wine is a representative of Western culture, archaeological discoveries have proved it It first appeared in East Asia and the Middle East.

Writer Mo Yan said in a public speech during his trip to Colombia that he was looking forward to meeting García Márquez, the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Mo Yan said that he even thought about the first sentence he would say after seeing Marquez:

“Sir, I drank coffee with you in my dream, but Colombian coffee tastes like Chinese green tea.”

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