Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tea during Wartime

The New York Times (somewhat) recently started to allow everyone (not just paying subscribers) to see their full archives online. Here are two articles on tea during wartime that I found to be interesting:

The first is from 1916. It's about the German coffee and tea supplies being taken over by the state. There great was concern that when coffee ran out, tea would act as a coffee replacement (in addition to a popular drink on its own) and run out soon after.

The next article is from a year and a half later, when England's tea supply was nearly gone. The man interviewed blamed the shortage on exportation to Germany earlier in the war.

Other notes on tea (and coffee) during wartime:

During WWI and WW2, people in the US often drank chickory in lieu of coffee and rooibos in lieu of "true" tea (from the camellia sinensis plant).

Russian samovars have a bloody history. During wartime, samovars were often melted down to make guns. During times of peace, the guns were melted down to make samovars. Somehow this always makes me think of the scene in Lord of War where they talk about how the militia snorts lines of cocaine mixed with gunpowder. Yikes!

The Opium Wars were waged over tea. Tea had caused an enormous trade imbalance between the Chinese and the British, so the British started growing opium in India and importing it to China, despite laws forbidding it. Soon, the nation was addicted and the government was outraged. And then... wars. Two of them, to be precise.

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