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Tea History

Tea History of Europe

Tea History of Europe

  • Thursday, 18 August 2022
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The first European port city to experience tea was Amsterdam, during the 16th century. At first glance it seemed like just another novelty—though an expensive one!The Brits discovered a new love with tea after it arrived in London in 50 years, and their tastes changed forever.

Tea became a part of British life, for everyone from lords and ladies to the men and women working class.The first advertisement for tea appeared in the British weekly magazine, Mercurius Politicus on 23 September 1658:“China drink called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee”was available in a coffee house in London.The British developed an obsession with tea that fueled by the East India Company merchants who made vast fortunes selling it. The result is now part of British national tea culture for everyone in this country.

Tea History of European Countries

The beverage that we call tea has been around for centuries. Some sources indicate Turkish traders were bartering their goods on the Mongolian and Tibetan borders in 5th century. It's believed that Tsar Alexis of Russia was the first person in Russian history to enjoy green tea. He received a gift from his Chinese counterparts around 1618, and it is thought this beverage originated as an elixir or medicinal drink.

Prior to the Dutch, Arab traders had dealt in tea. But it wasn't until the Dutch started an active and lucrative trade early during 17th century that European countries became acquainted with this Asian beverage as well! Portuguese are credited for bringing china back home after having traveled there on trading missions during these period too.The Dutch brought tea to Europe via Indonesia. From Holland, tea spread relatively quickly throughout Europe.



Europe was introduced to tea in the early 1500's by Portuguese traders. It became an obsession for many centuries after that, but it wasn't until 1577 when they began trading with Chinese people regularly- predating even Dutch and British interest in Asia! Queen Elizabeth I of England heard news about this new beverage while she sat on her throne and wanted to acquire some immediately.

Tea was first introduced to France by the Dutch in 1635,but within 50 years of its introduction interest waned. Despite gaining acceptance in royal circles and being consumed at court events such as ceremonies or balls there were never any plans for it take over the tradition of coffee and wine.The French were some of the first people to add milk to tea, which they did in order enhance their beverage as well as provide an extra boost.

When the first East India Company ship arrived in 1635, it did not lead to Britain's intake of tea by British citizens for their home journey; however they soon emulated entrepreneurial Dutch seafarers who also imported Yixing purple clay pots. Tea eventually came over from China around 1646 and became popular among high society members because drinking this beverage improved digestion while giving you more energy!

When Thomas Garway opened his London coffee shop in Exchange Alley in 1657, he put tea on the menu. This simple act created a demand for this new beverage that would soon be booming into an international trade of vibrant colors and flavors!The connection between tea and Britishness has been a topic of great fascination for many people. The history behind this popular beverage involved specifically in how the tea was invested with so many different identities during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901).The beverage was seen as both work and rest,luxury and necessity, but also linked with the domestic sphere while simultaneously signifying imperial greatness abroad.


In the 19th century, tea became a powerful medium for spreading ideas. Tea Tables were equipped with items that communicated messages about British values.Looking specifically to the second half of the nineteenth century, when the tea trade was at its most complex.

British Tea History

1.The Portuguese Princess Brings a Taste of Tea Culture

When Catherine of Braganza,a Portuguese princess from a wealthy country married King Charles II in 1662, she brought with her a large amount tea leaves and tea sets from East as her dowry.When Catherine, a tea drinker since childhood was surprised by the British aristocracy's continued regard for this beverage as an elixir for health.


The Portuguese aristocracy were exposed to tea earlier than their British counterparts. They had been drinking it as part of leisure life for a long time, not just because they thought it would make them healthier but also due its pleasant taste in contrast with other beverages.Catherine wanted to adjust the astringency of her tea soup, so she added sugar,which was comparable in value then as silver,and the sweet tea soup became a daily consumption for Catherine! The British aristocracy was shocked when they realized that their queen had been drinking sweet tea.In addition, Catherine made new friends by inviting them over for luxury tea in Great Britain.

The upper classes in Britain started to drink tea after Princess Catherine of Portugal brought the habit over from her home country. The British tea practice became associated with luxury and sophistication, leading other sections on society adopting this custom as well.The popularity of tea in 1676 caused Charles II to increase the tax on it by 119%.

2.The Evolution of British Tea Drinking Culture by Queen Anne

Tea drinking has been a part of the British culture for more than 40 years since it was introduced to the British court. It was first passed down by Queen Anne (1665-1714), who grew up in this enviroment and naturally inherited her love on teas to share with everyone around her- even if they were not royalty!And Queen Anne not only hired artisans so that they could make the first silver teapot in the world for her but also set up a space dedicated exclusively towards this activity,which is called "Tea Room". English society has since then adopted an important form: visiting "tea rooms".


3. British Tea of the Victorian Era

The 19th century of Victorian era was a time of great social stability in Great Britain.Tea no longer had to be imported from China and the British colony of India began producing it, meaning that people could finally enjoy their favorite drink without having an impossible price tag attached.The decline of the English language began in 19th-century Victorian England.The introduction and subsequent popularization by Queen Victoria's government tax reduction on tea brought about a new era for this ancient beverage that had been exclusively enjoyed by upper classes before then.And British tea culture became popular among the average British.


The Victorian era was a time when the British were happy and prosperous.Tea became popular because it no longer had to be imported from China, the British colony of India began producing tea so that tax on this beverage would decrease eventually making them more affordable for average people.

When Queen Victoria held tea parties in public to entertain guests, she received adoration from girls and became the center for every move. Naturally this activity became popular among young women who emulated Her Majesty's style by hosting their own imitation social events that were often attended by other females just like them - so much fun!The tea party has grown to be a fashionable social event that exclusively caters for girls.The elegant and delicate features of the drink have made it popular among young women as their exclusive fashion clubhouse in an age when most men prefer beer or whiskey.

The end of the 19th century saw a new fashion trend in Britain-afternoon tea. Grown by an English aristocracy and middle class, ladies would serve their friends teas at home wearing informal dresses that were long with flowing sleeves while they discussed politics over scones or thumb sucking biscuits.The tea houses along the streets became meeting places for early women suffragists.


4.Bone China Tea Set

The British porcelain industry began in the early 18th century with the birth of the well-known porcelain brand Wedgwood in 1759 and Spode in 1776.The development of porcelain in the 18th century led to an increase in demand for bone china tea sets.Bone china stores in Europe and England were doing a booming business to meet the demand for afternoon tea sets by mid-19th century. The porcelain industry was growing even faster due primarily because people were drinking more than ever before!


Tea Made in India and " the Opium Wars"

The British East India Company was founded in 1600 as a joint-stock company, and it developed into an influential monopoly that controlled half of the world's trade,and by 1664 they had begun importing tea from China to England via Java. The East India Company was one of the first companies to import tea from China, but it later grew its own teas in order supply Britain and its colonies.



The local wild tea trees were discovered by Robert Bruce and Maniram Dewanin Assam, India in 1823. Despite the discovery of local tea trees in India, the East India Company preferred Chinese tea trees. The Chinese tea tree species was superior to the Assam one because it could withstand cold weather and high altitude of Darjeeling.Botanist Robert Fortune was sent by the East India Company to China in order to introduce tea seeds and tea plants,as well learn about the know-how and tacit knowledge behind this ancient beverage among Chinese interior provinces. Fortune shipped out both tea seeds and tea seedlings from China to India between 1848 and 1851.

With the long transit time and high prices for tea, trade imbalance occurs between China and Britain, this led to East India Company wanted stable sources of teas that could be grown in India.In 1835, the first cultivars were planted in Assam India though it would be more than a decade before large-scale tea plunking began. The 1870s were a time of change for Assam and Darjeeling.In order to take advantage, many tea planters in India began private plantation with larger quantities at cheaper prices compared with Chinese teas.



The British established tea plantations in India but they continued to trade with China by selling opium grown in India in exchange for silver which then went towards buying Chinese teas.Opium smoking was so widespread in China in 1820s that the Chinese government banned it. Nevertheless, this did not stop many Chinese from addicted to opium and two Opium Wars took place between 1939 and 1960 between China and Britain.


The 18th century was a time of expansion and discovery for European countries, but Qing Dynasty of China opposed any form exchange with the west.They clung to the traditional patterns made them resistant to trade goods or ideas being introduced in their culture,and they preferred maintaining status quo despite all odds against innovation.When the Qing Dynasty ruled China, they initially opened all ports with stiff tariff to allow for trade with Europeans. However in 1715 this decision was revoked and only Canton (Guangdong) remained open because it would help protect Chinese interests.Trade between China and Europe was restricted to Canton for 160 years.

The English were obsessed with tea during the 19th century and this led to devastating effects in China and India in Asia.As Britain expanded her imperialistic powers she became greedier for it;the British became obsessed with tea and its profits overseas.Before the American Revolutionary War, most of Britain's silver came from Central and South America.The American Revolutionary war cut off supplies from Mexico and inflation led to a rise in the cost of silver.The demand for Asian goods especially teas in Britain was on the increase, so the director of East India Company seized upon the idea to grow poppies and selling opiums to make the profits.They realized that trading opium for tea was more lucrative than buying teas with silver, so they quickly developed a huge opium industry in India.The result was hunger and deprivation in India,which also led to the two Opium Wars between China and Britain.


5.Tea and the Average People

The working class in Britain had been unable to afford tea for so long because of its high price in the 18th century. But when William Pitt, the Prime Minister at that time reduced taxes on this drink from 119% down to 12%, the average people could finally buy some good quality leaves and make themselves cozy cups o' Joe!The British government's decision to reduce the tariff on tea in 1784 led to a gradual decline of tea smuggling and made this ancient beverage more popular than ever before.The working class would drink lower-grade tea and incorporate it into their meals. They used this as a replacement for beer, which was very popular at the time because people's health could benefit from teas.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was an event that cut off the costs for steamships from Asia to Europe and North America.Westerners were able to enjoy better quality tea for the first time thanks in part due their new ships which carried a higher amount of cargo and faster than traditional ones.Coffee cultivation in Ceylon was suddenly and devastatingly impacted by the blight,this led to an increase of interest for tea tree planting there.Britain began planting tea trees in Sri Lanka and started their first use of steam rolling machines Assam,India,which reduced the production costs and time. And abundant tea supply led to significant drop on tea prices!


The second half of the 19th century was a time when India's tea plantations were flourishing. During Queen Velia’s reign (1837-1901), it appeared that every year some new land would be cleared to cultivate teas and produced good quality black teas in india in great demand across Europe, Australia and North America.

The industrial revolution in late 1800s led to longer work hours for factory workers. To avoid fatigue, employers began giving them free tea in the morning or in the afternoon so they could stay awake during those parts of their shifts. This custom became known as "tea breaks". Later on master would also give his servant certain amount "tea allowances”.



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