Every office has a routine, the way everyone walks in and welcomes the next day of work. It doesn’t matter if there are shifts, set hours or you walk in and out whenever you need to. Everyone in the office follows the routine and we are certain that every office starts the same way.
That is, they all start with the first cup of coffee, tea, herbal flowers or hot shake for body building. We all know this, some say that the only reason they come into the office is the free coffee. Included in this ritual is looking for your mug, the mug with your name on it, your favourite phrase or your favourite picture.
Mugs and how they came to be
The spread of coffee, tea and all the other hot beverages took hundreds of years. Every country on earth has their unique variations and some things that are unique to them. However, somehow through all of this, through boxes of teas being thrown into oceans and beans smuggled across borders, a common trend developed when it comes to drinking these beverages.
The use of pottery to help the transfer, creation and eventual enjoyment of beverages is older than the drinks they hold. Finding the oldest pot, made from clay, is a question for the most dedicated archaeologists. This is because a proper made piece of pottery can last for millennia; they are some of the most important parts of any archaeological find.
So, when we look at the history of us, our mugs tell better tales than most books. This then leaves no question as to why ceramic was chosen to hold the first brews of coffee or why every Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony requires the best looking crockery.
From Europe to Asia, Africa to the America’s the use of ceramic mugs, cups and bowls have been pivotal to us all enjoying the hot beverages that keeps us going. The processes of making these have changed and, yet, somehow stayed the same through the centuries. Using fire to harden clay into pottery is one of the first steps we took to creating what would eventually become porcelain.
Shapes, Sizes and Procedures of making mugs
The history of pottery is linked closely to the history of technology. This is simply owing to high quality glazing, porcelain and ceramics requiring higher temperatures to produce. The creation of higher temperature kilns required improvements in technology and a focus on more refined crafting.
To further complicate the history of ceramics, different parts of the world had more advanced techniques before others. China, owing to rich resources in clay, started creating high quality pottery long before others were even had basic pottery. This created large differences in the types of technology that was being developed in countries across the world.
A simple example of this would be western culture looking for the perfect way to hold drinks, owing to their pottery being low quality, which led them to create glass. This allowed them to create spectacles and other optics, which eastern countries didn’t need owing to them already having porcelain crockery.
When the cultures started to mix things blew up, pottery was spread around the world and everyone was looking for the perfect drink to put in their mug.
Coffee, a longer history than you thought
The history of coffee is long and somewhat veiled in mystery, not because we don’t know from where it came, we know that. The difficult thing with coffee is that it’s hard to know when it really started being used. The popular belief is that the consumption of coffee started in the 1500’s; this is when the first written accounts start. However, there is a chance that the indigenous people of Ethiopia started using coffee beans hundreds of years before it became popular.
It was in the mid 1500’s that the first credible evidence of coffee being used appeared in Yemen, it started as a way to keep the Sufi awake during religious rituals. This led to coffee spreading to most of the Middle-East and staying there for a while. The only way to get coffee was to export from African countries; these countries only ever exported the beans after they had been boiled.
This simple step caused the beans to be sterile, unable to grow the coffee plant. This ended in 1670, when a man called Baba Budan smuggled out some perfectly fine coffee beans. These beans helped coffee spread to the rest of the world, owing mostly to them being planted in Mysore, which directly helped coffee enter Italy.
In the next few hundred years’ coffee would enter Europe proper, cross the ocean into the America’s and fall out of favour in England. It will become the preferred drink in the United States and help several countries to grow and, eventually, fall.
If we go into the full history we would be sitting here for several hours, just know that today coffee is loved the world over. There is a coffee belt that follows the equator and it is an industry that is helping some developing countries continue to grow.
Tea taking the world by ship
Tea is the older, more refined brother of coffee, coming in every shape, size, flavour and aroma. The history of tea can be both amazing and slightly violent, but it still remains the second most popular drink in the world. It’s beaten only by water.
Like most fine things tea started in the East, in China, where it was drunk by emperors, peasants and everyone in between. The earliest record we have for the practice of making tea is in 57 BC, which makes it one of the oldest drinks only beaten by alcohols.
The tea trade stayed in the East for hundreds of years, seeing slow growth in the west owing to the high costs of taxation and importation. This caused tea in Europe to be used only at special events, such as parties, wakes and weddings. Luckily tea was loved by all who drank it, including the countries across the Atlantic, which caused tea to be smuggled into England and the America’s.
This slightly reduced the price, which caused peasants to love it even more. With pressure rising for the English monarchy, the creation of tea farms in India and a certain Tea Party in a place that shall not be named; it removed the tea tax in the 19th century. This caused the popularity of tea to skyrocket across the world.
In the modern day tea varieties are so abundant that there really isn’t a tea that can’t satisfy someone, somewhere. They can be brewed and drunk fresh or they can be flavoured, chilled and drank on a hot summer day. Tea has been an important part of the office routine since before the office was even a concept.
Our Mugs continue the trend
The history of mugs is long as is the history of the two most popular drinks that they’re used for, trust us, we read through all the Wiki articles to ensure we weren’t blowing whistles. This is why we are adding several new mugs to our line-up, all made around the world and branded right here in South Africa.
One of the processes that we use is the kiln fire technique; this ensures that when a colour or logo is added, they never come off. This pays tribute to the original potters that used fires thousands of years ago, hardening the clay beneath them and being the first to discover one of the corner stones of the modern world.
So, when you next start your morning office routine be sure to enjoy the history in your hands, the experience of your coffee and the wisdom of the tea.