72 pages 2 hours read

Tom Standage

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2005

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Symbols & Motifs

Drinking vessels

Standage suggests that one of the reasons wine production developed later than the deliberate production of beer was that pottery was not invented until around 6000 BCE. Thus the vessels available to store particular beverages were an important factor in their development.

In Mesopotamia and Greece, drinks were served from a communal vessel, while in Rome, individual bottles of wine were used to serve people according to their status. In this way, the manner of serving a drink could reflect the broader ethos of a society.

When tea was first imported to Britain in the eighteenth century, it was accompanied by teacups made of Chinese porcelain. This suggests that it was the ritual element of the tea ceremony, as much as the beverage itself, which appealed to the British. The establishment of a crockery industry in Britain put a stop to these imports by 1791, at which point tea’s place in British society was already assured. The use of British, rather than Chinese, crockery suggests that people had come to see tea as something British, rather than something exotic.

Despite Asa Candler’s initial reluctance to bottle the finished product, the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle, introduced in 1916, helped to make the drink more widely available and more recognizable.