Ancient energy boost, brewed from leaves and bark

  • August 11, 2012 - 5:28 PM


Long ago, at a pre-Columbian center across the Mississippi River from present-day St. Louis, people were imbibing a caffeinated beverage known as "black drink." The chemical residues found in their porous, ceramic mugs tell the tale. For the first time, researchers have found direct evidence that the use of drink goes back as early as A.D. 1050 at what is now Cahokia, Ill. The chemical analysis identified the primary ingredients: caffeine, theobromine and ursolic acid -- or toasted holly leaves and bark.


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