The act of drinking tea today is inexorably linked to the British, despite the fact that the British were actually pretty late to the tea scene in historical terms.
The first mention of tea in English literature was, funny enough, a translation of a Dutchmen's travels to the east. Tea was first brought to England via the Netherlands on Dutch ships.
With tea becoming such a fashionable beverage, the British Empire was quite perturbed that such a small nation as the Netherlands would have such control over the shipment of tea to the UK. So in 1651 the British government passed the Navigation Acts which prohibited the importation of any products on non-British ships. Traders and Dutchmen and their resourceful ways, managed to navigate around this problem by continuing to trade in the usual manner with one little exception, the tea was transshipped in Holland on British ships!
Early in British life, tea was known as a health beverage and was reported to have all kinds of curative powers in the 1650's. Garway's coffee house proclaimed that tea, amongst other things, "makes the body active and lusty". Tea was declared at one point to be "the most wholesome beverage" preserving "perfect health until extreme old age".
Anna, the wife of the seventh Duke of Bedford, was responsible for inventing and bringing the act of afternoon tea to popularity. At the time custom dictated that two meals were taken each day a hearty breakfast and a late evening dinner. Anna complained often of a "sinking feeling" in the stomach around mid afternoon and thus asked her servants to begin serving tea and cakes in the afternoon. And so began a fashionable habit which is still practiced today!
Amongst Britain's history, much of it is tea related in fact. The Opium Wars, The Box
er Rebellion, The Clipper Ship races from Fuzchou china to Portsmouth UK, The Earl of Grey, English Breakfast, the list goes on.
We here at TeaZehri are fascinated by British tea history, we love to learn about it while sipping a nice cup of our English Breakfast tea. A full bodied Flowery Pekoe tea with bright, almost coppery notes, that pairs excellently with a bit of cream or milk. Want some too? Get yourself some English Breakfast tea here.