“Anyone for another cuppa?” (From Yahoo! Images)

“Anyone for another cuppa?” (From Yahoo! Images)

What in the world could Christopher Columbus have to do with tea? During the time he was out sailing around on those dangerous oceans and trying to find India, tea had not yet made its way to Europe, where he was from. And tea growing in India was confined to parts of the state of Assam at the northern tip of that country. He was seeking spices and other treasures, not to plunder but to trade other goods for. To get there from Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc., meant sailing around Africa, and getting around the southern tip was especially treacherous, subject to unpredictable and wild storms that regularly sank ships. So he sought an alternate route.

Now, remember that this was a time when folks weren’t quite yet sure that the world was a sphere. Many still thought it was flat, and even those convinced that it was a sphere weren’t quite sure about traveling westward across uncharted oceans. The idea of sea monsters and edges of the world dropping off into a void still persisted. Getting together a crew was a bit problematic. And then when he had managed that and those three ships (the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) had sailed farther west than others before them from that part of Europe (the Vikings are another matter), what happens? He runs into land. The wrong land. It wasn’t even this continent. It was some islands. Sheesh!

Here’s where the tea part comes in:

If tea had come to Europe, there would have been lots of tea parties. And we all know how tea not only stimulates but calms, so they would have had tea and then said, “Heck with the spices. I’m taking a nap.” And those islands would have been discovered by somebody else. Maybe even Vikings. And it’s anybody’s guess how history would have gone from there. Especially considering how those Vikings took over Dublin and then a chunk of the rest of Ireland. And let’s not forget their settling Iceland.

So, raise your teacup in a toast to Christopher Columbus and his inability to get to India by sailing west from Italy. Poor misguided sailor. We could have all been speaking Scandinavian right now. Skol!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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