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We have the Quechua people of Peru to thank for our favourite drink. They had discovered the anti-fever properties of the quinine in Cinchona bark long before the Spanish arrived.

But it was the curing of the Countess of Chinchon, after she had had a bath in water soaked in the ‘Quina quina’ tree bark, that raised the interest of the Europeans, via the Jesuits, who got everywhere.

They used their ‘Jesuits’ bark’ or 'Jesuits’ powder’ to cure all sorts of people, eventually getting as far afield as China and Japan.  It was sometimes known as ‘Countess powder’, though, thanks to her bath.

Another story is that Robert Talbot (or Tabor, or Talbor) cured King Charles II of malaria with the bark, and was then asked to cure the Sun King, Louis XIV of France in 1679.  King Louis wanted to know what the medicine was, but Robert made it a condition of the cure that he would leave the recipe in his will.  Which duly said he had used the Jesuits’ fix. 


But he did cure the king and made himself a fortune in the process.

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