The first cuppa? Researchers find native Americans brewed tea almost a thousand years ago (but it was so strong they called it vomit drink)

Native Americans were brewing a primitive form of tea almost a thousand years ago, scientists have discovered.

Inhabitants of Cahokia, a massive pre-Columbus settlement near where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet in Illinois, consumed ‘Black Drink’ from ceramic beakers.

Researchers tested pottery beakers found in and around Cahokia for residues of ‘Black Drink’ because the vessels were distinctive and relatively rare.

The beverage, which was six times more potent than coffee, was made from toasted holly leaves and stems.

It may have been created for special ceremonies and is the first known evidence of a tea-like drink in what is now the US.

A study of residues absorbed into eight porous, unglazed mugs found traces of theobromine, caffeine and ursolic acid which provided a chemical signature of the holly species Ilex.

The unique vessels with a handle on one side, a tiny lip on the other and carved with symbols of water and the underworld date to about 1050 to 1250 AD.

Dr Thomas Emerson, director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, said: ‘This finding brings to us a whole wide spectrum of religious and symbolic behaviour at Cahokia that we could only speculate about in the past.’

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