Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Native Americans brewed tea a thousand years ago - the vomit drink

Also known as 'black drink', made from toasted holly leaves (photo below) and stems, and six times stronger than coffee.

Inhabitants of Cahokia, a pre-Columbus settlement near where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet in Illinois, drank ‘Black Drink’ from ceramic beakers. (photo below)

Researchers tested the pottery found in and around Cahokia for residues of 'Black Drink' because the vessels were relatively rare.
The study of residues absorbed into eight, unglazed mugs found traces of theobromine, caffeine and ursolic acid which provided a chemical signature of the holly species Ilex.
The vessels with a handle on one side, a tiny lip on the other and carved with symbols of water and the underworld date to about 1050 to 1250 AD.

Cahokia was a city with as many as 100,000 residents and the largest prehistoric North American settlement north of Mexico.

Professor Patricia Crown, an anthropologist at New Mexico University discovered by an earlier analysis that people living in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, in A.D. 1100-1125 consumed liquid chocolate in special ceramic vessels found there.

Europeans were the first to record the use of what they called 'the black drink' by Native American men in the southeast.
This drink, a dark tea made from the roasted leaves of the Yaupon holly (ilex vomitoria) contains caffeine.
Different groups used the black drink for different purposes but for many it was a key component of a purification ritual before battle or other important events.
Its high caffeine content - as much as six times that of strong coffee by some estimates - induced sweating.
Quick consumption of large quantities of the beverage allowed men to vomit (how fun) and that was an important part of the purification ritual.