Coffee or tea? Everything you need to know about our favourite drinks
«Even a bad cup of coffee is better than no cup at all.» – David Lynch
Coffee is grown in around 70 countries today, and it is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world – it is drunk over 2 billion times a day. But how did we manage to turn a little red coffee bean into liquid gold? When did we start drinking it?
The history of coffee
Legend has it that a young goat herder discovered the effects of the coffee plant in the 9th century in Ethiopia: He observed how lively his goats became after they had tried the red coffee cherries. However the consumption of coffee by humans was first mentioned in the 15th century in Yemen.
Unfortunately, an exact history of its distribution cannot be reconstructed. What we do know is that in the following centuries, the entire Middle East took a liking to coffee and initially retained a monopoly on its enjoyment. It was not until coffee was grown in India that people in Europe, South and Central America as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean islands were able to get to know and enjoy the “super drink”.
However, religion almost prevented the triumph of coffee, because at first it was considered a Muslim drink by Christians, which is why they were told to avoid it. Only after Pope Clement VIII declared coffee a Christian drink in the 17th century, was everyone allowed to enjoy it in accordance with their spiritual beliefs.
Brazil has been the world’s largest coffee producer since 1852 – a title that the country still fervently defends even today.
Shared coffee enjoyment quickly spread throughout society. Public coffee houses were built in many cities. In England these places were called the “penny universities” during the 17th century: for a penny, “the student” got a cup of coffee and access to the coffeehouse, magazines and conversations where he could learn something. At the same time the Enlightenment period began. Coffee houses became meeting places for writers, scientists and scholars. And today we still meet in cafes to discuss, learn or have a carefree cup of coffee.
Is coffee good for us?
Coffee contains caffeine, which temporarily increases blood pressure. Because of the different ways of preparing coffee, the amount of caffeine we consume varies. The espresso contains the highest concentration, around 70mg per 30ml. A general statement as to whether coffee is good or bad for each of us cannot be made. Since 2015, the drink has been part of the general nutritional guidelines as part of a healthy diet. Studies from 2017 show that people whose coffee consumption is moderate are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases – including heart attacks and strokes – than those who skip the drink. Experts also say coffee can prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver disease.
There are more than 124 types of coffee plant, but our billions of cups each year are almost exclusively made with coffee beans from the two most widely used varieties, the Arabica and Robusta.
Coffee and the Sugar Trap
Flat white, latte, frappuccino – countless international coffee types have been added to the simple black coffee. In the diet of adults, sweetened coffee and tea are the fourth largest sources of sugar intake. It is therefore advisable to reconsider your regular consumption of these drinks and avoid excessive amounts of sugar. In particular, it is worth taking a look at the list of ingredients for industrially produced coffee beverages – if sugar is the first ingredient, we can confidently do without this product. Homemade coffee is the best choice anyway, because we have the greatest control over all of the ingredients used. If you do like to drink coffee regularly, and you like it sweet, use Hermesetas instead of sugar for some added sweetness without the unwanted calories of sugar.
Are you in the mood for a special coffee? Here is our delicious sugar-free special selection:
Coffee customs from around the world
Different forms of coffee preparation have developed around the world – there are many coffee rituals with different meanings.
In the Middle East and in some parts of Eastern Europe, coffee is ground very finely and cooked in an ibrik together with sugar, water, but also spices such as cloves or cinnamon. The French like to start the day with a large cup of café au lait. In Brazil, milk coffee is also part of the morning routine; but during the day you will drink black Cafezhino. In Scandinavia and Holland, pastries or bread are constant companions of the morning coffee. Italians swear by their espresso all day long. Mexico’s specialty is called Café de Olla and is cooked with raw sugar and cinnamon sticks.
The Viennese coffee houses have set standards in Austria. With mocha, melange, capuchin and Einspänner it can be a piece of Sachertorte. The local coffee party may no longer seem trendy, but it remains a great opportunity to chat with friends and family over coffee and cake.
How about a few sugar-free baking ideas to enjoy with your own coffee time?
«I got nasty habits; I take tea at three.» – Mick Jagger
Just like coffee, tea is a favorite drink around the world. Countless varieties and flavors ensure that you never get bored. And its history is also quite impressive.
The history of tea
When talking about the history of tea we often start with a legend: The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung from 2737 BC was sitting under a tree while his waitress was boiling water. A leaf from the tree fell into the water. The emperor tried the random creation and took a liking to it.
Buddhist scholars introduced tea to Japan in the 7th century AD and laid the foundation for the complex Japanese tea ceremony. The infusion only reached Europe many centuries later – the Dutch are responsible for its commercial success. They imported the drink from the island of Java in the early 17th century. At the time, tea was 10 times more expensive than coffee and was considered a drink for the rich.
The British, today known for their preference for tea, came to enjoy tea a little later. At first they refused the drink. It was only after Charles II’s marriage to Katharina von Braganza, who liked tea herself, that they gradually changed their minds. Evidence of this includes an advertisement from the London magazine Mercurius Politicus from 1658 announcing that the Chinese drink tcha is available in a coffee house in town. Fot many years tea was exclusively imported to the British Isles by the famous East India Company.
In the 18th century, the British enjoyed tea very much, but they couldn’t afford the high prices. This encouraged criminal gangs to smuggle tea in. In addition, resourceful business people were extremely creative with the composition: they added various other leaves and substances to the tea leaves.
Sheep dung or toxic copper carbonate were even added to make the tea look convincing.
In 1784, the British Prime Minister William Pitt lowered the tea tax from 119 percent to 12.5 percent. Suddenly everyone could afford tea and the smuggling stopped practically overnight.
Tea writes history
Probably the most famous tea event took place in Boston in 1773, which at the time was part of the British colonies on the North American continent. After a long smoldering dispute between the 13 colonies and their motherland, the conflict escalated into a disagreement over the taxation of tea – the British government refused to revoke it. As part of the Boston Tea Party, Bostonians disguised as Indians boarded the ships of the East India Company and poured the entire tea load into the sea. This incident initiated the first steps towards American independence.
Is tea good for us?
People recognized early on that tea had several properties which could positively affect health. Many tea vendors advertise varieties that are supposed to help us sleep better, wake up rested in the morning or even calm down anxiety. Researchers are constantly striving to demonstrate the health benefits of tea.
The most important health-promoting substances in tea include polyphenols, catechins and epicatechins. Studies conducted by the Harvard Institute suggest that tea drinkers are at lower risk of diabetes and possibly cardiovascular disease. Tea is a good alternative to coffee because it contains less caffeine.
Nutritionists agree that all tea is a good tea – as long as we prepare it ourselves and do without industrially manufactured products.
“Tea is one of the main pillars of society in this country” – George Orwell in “A Nice Cup of Tea”
How many tea varieties are there?
Strictly speaking, tea is a drink made from the leaves of the tea plant. We owe the basic varieties of white, oolong, green and black to this tea plant. Their differences lie in the processing of the tea leaves: while the white tea is only dried, the green tea is heated, the oolong is partially fermented, and the black tea is fermented.
If we interpret the term tea less strictly, we also add fruit and herbal teas to tea from the tea plant, which – as the names suggest – consist of dried fruits or herbs. There are also innumerable connections between herbs and fruits with one another or with the leaves of the tea plant.
In the UK, 84 percent of people drink tea – that makes for 165 million cups a day!
Tea customs from around the world
In China, tea is much more than a drink. Cha Dao, “the way of tea”, corresponds rather to a teaching for life which includes love, respect and appreciation. The connoisseur uses different preparation methods: non-fermented teas are mostly prepared in the gaiwan (a vessel consisting of a saucer, a spherical bowl and a lid), fermented teas with the Gongfu Cha method (from a teapot over a decanter to an aromatic cup – various utensils are used here).
The Japanese tea ritual, Cha No Yu, originating from China historically, differs significantly from the Chinese tea ceremony in its strict rules. It can take years for someone to master each step. In addition, the Japanese mainly choose one type of tea – matcha.
An Indian specialty has long since conquered the world: the chai. Black tea forms its basis. There are also milk, sugar and a mixture of spices. The Russians mostly also prepare black tea in the samovar, an often ornately decorated tea machine. It is served with lemon, sugar, honey or even jam. In Tibet you can get yak butter tea, po cha. This is high in nutritional value, which is why it is popular with hard-working nomads. The British, on the other hand, can relax with their tea, with afternoon tea at around 4 p.m. Connoisseurs can enjoy sandwiches, scones and cakes with black tea with milk and sugar.
Make yourself a nice afternoon tea with our sugar-free treats:
Also you can find our special tea recipes collection:Our favourite beverages, coffee and tea, go together with a healthy lifestyle, so it is best if we avoid sugar when consuming them. But that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the sweet taste: enjoy your favourite drink with Hermesetas instead of sugar and avoid all those unwanted extra calories.