While other consumables were very important in Western Europe in the 1700’s, tea was the most important economic, political, and cultural motivator at the time.
Section 1: History of Tea
History of Tea pre-England
China was the first to consume tea, dating as far back as 1000 BC.
Tea spread all over the east, from Japan to Vietnam and Cambodia, to India, to the Middle East.
Tea comes to England in 1662, replaces wine, ale, and spirits as the court drink
Initially branded as a medicinal cure
Section 2: Economy of Tea
Tea was not economically interesting until 1720, when it replaced textiles as the primary import from China.
Tea became taxed in 1676.
Tea was a popular item to smuggle to avoid tariffs.
The East India Company became a trade powerhouse due to their trade connection with India and China, eventually holding a monopoly on trade with the East.
Section 3: Politics of Tea
In 1676, King Charles II attempted to ban coffee (tea) houses, public uprising forced him to reconsider
The East India Company had a huge influence on the politics surrounding tea. They had massive armies to conquer distant lands and the government could own no shares in the company.
British colonialism begins due to demand for tea. The British (and other world powers) would go on to have colonies all over the world, shaping the politics of the areas forever.
Taxes on tea would spark conflict nearly everywhere in the world.
In America, the Boston Tea Party happened in 1773 and sparked the American Revolution.
Section 4: Culture of Tea
Initially, coffee (tea) houses were male-only businesses. Women were not allowed inside.
Catherine of Braganza’s use of tea opens the doors for social acceptance of women drinking tea
Tea became more popular than chocolate and coffee due to patriotism; it was more patriotic to use commodities produced by British colonies (coffee came from Arabia and chocolate came from Spanish and Portuguese colonies)
In the early 1800’s, Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford launched the idea of having tea in the late afternoon, as opposed to later in the evening.
Tea becomes the standard for British culture.