The History Of Tea and Its Expansion Into British Culture

Timeline created by 1marinjay
  • 2,737 BCE

    Tea Is Here

    Tea originated in China in 2737 BC. Leaves from a nearby tree blew into Chinese Emperor Shen Nung's boiling drinking water. With an interest in herbs, he took a sip of the "leaf water", which we now refer to as tea. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Tea in Europe

    Holland received the first consignment of tea shipped from China, marking the immigration of tea into European culture. Tea soon became a trendy drink with the Dutch, which spread to other European countries, such as Portugal. Due to its high price, tea remained a drink for the wealthy. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • First Dated Tea Reference In Britain

    A London newspaper advertised that a coffee house was now selling tea, referring to it as "China Drink". Tea had not yet been popularized in Britain. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Catherine of Braganza

    Tea's popularity in Britain began with the marriage of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. Catherine was a princess from Portugal, where tea was more popular. Her love of tea brought the beverage trend to upper-class Britain. (Ross, D., n.d.)
  • Tea in British Coffee Houses

    After Catherine sparked the rise of tea in Britain, numerous coffee houses began selling the beverage, with many of them highlighting the tea's benefits to the body. One coffee house owner, Thomas Garway, advertised it as "making the body active and lusty" and "preserving perfect health until extreme old age". (Ross, D., n.d.)
  • Tea and Taxes

    The rising popularity of tea in Britain was significantly cutting into alcohol sales, which the British government relied on for tax revenue from liquor stores. In an attempt to control and profit off of tea consumption, the tax on tea was increased up to 119%. Unaffordable tea costs lead to illegal tea smuggling. (Ross, D., n.d.)
  • No More 119%

    New Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger dropped tea taxes from 119% to 12.5%, making tea affordable to the working class. Taxes were lowered to stop the illegal smuggling of high volumes of tea across borders. The smuggled tea would not have gone through quality-control, and was often contaminated with other leaves and already steeped/re-dried tea leaves. The massive taxation drop stopped tea smuggling almost immediately. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Afternoon Tea

    Afternoon tea, a British custom, was introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Her household's dinner was held at 8pm, leaving a lot of time between lunch and dinner. Anna would become hungry around 4pm, and ask for tea, bread and butter. This "afternoon tea" became habit for her, and soon, she invited her friends to join her. Afternoon Tea evolved to be a common practice within British culture. (Johnson, B., 2013)
  • Tea From China

    Almost all of Britain's tea was coming from China. Tea had a fair popularity with an annual consumption of about two pounds per person. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Tea From India

    With cheaper tea imports from India and Sri Lanka, annual consumption rose to six pounds per person. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Tea Bags

    Tea bags (invented in America in the nineteenth century) gained popularity in Britain. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Tea Today

    Tea remains the leading national drink for Britain, and remains a big part of their overall culture. Currently, the British drink an average of 165 million cups of tea every day. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Period:

    China's National Drink

    Growing in popularity, tea becomes China's national drink under the Tang Dynasty. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)
  • Period:

    Tea in Japan

    Tea was first introduced in Japan when Japanese Bhuddist monks travelled to China to study. (Tea - A Brief History, March 2017)