BY: HEATHER THUESEN
PHOTO BY: TAYLAR ROBBINS
Water: the most basic element of life; three molecules held together through simple chemical bonds.
There is nothing that water does not touch somehow; it is the wellspring of vitality for all of the earth - plants, animals and humans - it’s what differentiates our planet from every other and makes ‘life’ possible.
For humans in particular, this extraordinary compound refreshes, chills, sustains, and bonds every living soul on our beautiful planet.
With water there is life and with life there is “culture” - Latin cultura, literally cultivation. It is the inspired expression for sharing not only geography but belief, attitudes, values and goals; through the senses, through growth and through nurturing. Our explorative human species has as many varied expressions of culture as there are uses for water, and one of the most compelling uses for water is as a beverage. Water can be consumed plainly as itself or have as many flavors as there are personalities on the planet. It can be infused with herbs and fruits, born of grains, brewed, mulled, seethed, soaked, steeped, you name it. Want to feel like a rock star? Sip something with caffeine, taurine or guarana and start riffing air guitar like the next Hendrix. Feel like you’re falling down a rabbit hole? Sip a soporific (think Chamomile tea), and tame your inner Mad Hatter with a little more Caterpillar- you’ll be smiling like the Cheshire in no time. With a kaleidoscope of ingredients, water becomes a beverage that can range from medicinal to nutritional to purely pleasurable. Regardless of how it is consumed, beverage plays a starring role in our daily lives. Through the base element of water, beverage has evolved to bond human culture in every point in history spanning the entire planet.
Spin a globe and stop randomly on any land mass and there is a story of culture revolving around beverage. An alpaca herder sips on coca leaf tea and makes a ceremonial offering for the prosperity of his family in the hills above Lake Titicaca in Peru, while a family in the Argentinean countryside passes around a gourd of yerba maté, sipping from the bombilla while preparing a meal together. In South Africa, a descendent of the Khoisan tribe enjoys the medicinal benefits of Rooibos tea, while in Shanghai a grandmother sips the tea her grandson has poured for her during their weekly chayi. In fair Verona, a new father-in-law toasts his daughter, a deep glass of raisiny Amarone raised high, and the new couple sips their first wine as husband and wife, while a group of friends in New Zealand rowdily celebrate an All Blacks Rugby win sipping well—over a few pints of beer. In the United States, a child enjoys the rare treat of a cold root beer soda while he fishes off of his father’s dock, while in Istanbul a mother sips her coffee prepared az şekerli, little sugar, while her own mother turns over her cup to read her future in the grounds.