Six libations that have helped shape our world

Tea

Tea became a daily drink in China around the third century A.D.

Tea played a leading role in the expansion of imperial and industrial might in Great Britain many centuries later. During the 19th century, the East India Company enjoyed a monopoly on tea exports from China.

Englishmen around the world could drink tea, whether they were a colonial administrator in India or a London businessman. The sun never set on the British Empire—which meant that it was always teatime somewhere.

As the Industrial Revolution of 18th and 19th centuries gained steam, tea provided some of the fuel. Factory workers stayed alert during long, monotonous shifts thanks to welcome tea breaks.

The beverage also had unintended health benefits for rapidly growing urban areas. When you start packing people together in cities it's helpful to have a water-purification technology like tea, which was brewed with boiling water 
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