Food and Drink

Tea Drinking in Britain

Since 1600, the British East India Company held a monopoly over the importation of goods from outside Europe. It is probable that sailors aboard these ships brought home tea as gifts. The first reference to tea is in an advertisement in the London newspaper Mercurius Politicus from September 1658. The advertisement announced that the ‘China Drink’, also known as Tcha by the Chinese and Tay by other nations, was available at Sweeting’s Rents in the City. This advertisement was placed in Sweeting’s Rents in the City, the first coffee house in London, which was established in 1652. The terms suggest that tea is still a novelty to many readers.

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A Portuguese princess and a tea lover

The marriage of Charles II and Catherine de Braganza would be the turning point in British tea history. Her love for tea, as a Portuguese princess and tea drinker, helped tea become fashionable, first among the rich and powerful at court and later in Britain. The East India Company took advantage of this and began importing tea to Britain. Its first order was placed in 1664 for 100lbs. of China tea from Java. For your own tea experience, consider Afternoon tea boxes from

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Tea bags were first invented in America at the beginning of the 20th century. However, sales in Britain only began to take off in the 1970s. Many tea drinkers today can’t imagine their lives without tea bags. Even after the fall of the Empire, British tea brands continue to dominate the global market. Recent scientific research has shown that drinking tea may be directly beneficial to health. It is therefore assured that, for centuries to come, tea will remain at the heart of British life.

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