Friday, July 22, 2011

History of Tea

On our second full day here in London a few of us decided to enjoy a nice afternoon tea at the Strand Plaza. We sat on lovely couches and ottomans around a table filled with tea cups; towers of sandwiches, scones, and pastries; and teapots. It made me start to wonder why a Chinese drink was so popular in England. I came home and did a little digging on the internet to find information on the history of tea in England. I found a website called United Kingdom Tea Council. Who else would have a the best information about the history of tea in Great Britain than the official council for tea.

According to the council, tea was not common in England until a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, with a big craving for tea. In Portugal tea was a common drink and a favorite among the Portuguese court. When Catherine was sent over to England to marry Charles II in 1662 she brought with her a chest full of tea as part of her expensive dowry. However, tea was not yet a drink in England so she was offered ale when she arrived. After marrying Charles II, Catherine made tea a popular fad in the royal court.

The eighteenth century was filled with the upper class trying to keep tea a luxury item and prevent the lower classes from drinking it. One way of doing this was to promote that tea was unhealthy to drink. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, went as far to say people should abstain from drinking tea all together. Jonas Hanway argued tea was unhealthy to drink and Dr. Samuel Johnson argued there was nothing wrong with drinking tea. This started a large argument between Hanway and Johnson that continued through the press for years.

As time has gone by not only has society chosen to side with Dr. Samuel Johnson, we have scientific proof that tea is beneficial to drink. So having tea with my meals isn't a bad habit to pick up here in England.

Take a couple of minutes and listen to my podcast for more information.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Hale, B. (n.d.) A Nice Cup of Tea (Audio File). Retrieved from

MacLeod, K. (n.d.) The Forest and the Trees (Audio file). Retrieved from

United Kingdom Tea Council. (2011). Tea - A Brief History of the Nation's Favorite Beverage. Retrieved from

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