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Fruits of the earth: plants in the service of mankind

The consumption of stimulants

For millennia human history, culture and hospitality have been bound up with the consumption of the stimulants discussed in this book. Within this history, these drugs have given rise to expressions which have come to permeate our language, such as ‘put the kettle on’ and ‘tea for two’.

The locations in which they have been consumed are also recognisable in common parlance, and these ‘coffee-houses’, ‘tea parties’ and ‘brown cafes’ have provided locations where intellectual discussion and growth have historically been staged and fomented.

A selection of Chinese utensils used in tea drinking and preparation, including a copper vessel lined with tin, a cooling case, a kettle, a jug and a ladleChinese utensils used in tea drinking and preparationInternational demand for these goods has seen them dominate trade routes and exchanges and make fortunes for some of those concerned with their production. Others employed in the manual labour of their harvest have not fared so well.

Consumption of these goods is not without consequence and, as the title page to this work states, the author’s treatise will examine ‘the advantages and disadvantages attending the use of these commodities’.

Disadvantages of the consumption of cigarettes were made horribly clear during the 20th century with the ‘highly noxious’ tobacco causing suffering and disease through lung and other cancers.

The fold-out plate shown here illustrates some paraphernalia concerned with Chinese utensils used in tea drinking and preparation, including, a ‘copper vessel lined with tin, capable of containing four ounces’ (fig X). This implement sits on a case into which, the author surmises, ‘the Chinese pour their tea ... to cool the liquor, as that it may neither burn their lips, nor tongue’.

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