Recently I was pondering how balmy the English were about tea drinking.
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After conjuring images in my mind of sipping tea at The Ritz and enjoying a high tea at a majestic country home, I embarked on researching the topic.
I needed to know more about this national obsession!
Image courtesy of The Ritz
To my astonishment and bemusement, The English did not drink tea until 1663.
The Queen Consort of England, Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II, bought a substantial amount of tea with her from Portugal as her dowry.
The Portuguese Princess popularized tea drinking and it quickly became a fad at court with the aristocracy.
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Tea was prohibitively expensive so it was only the wealthy who consumed it.
As its price lowered, the rest of the kingdom commenced copying the aristocracy “taking tea”. By the early 1700s, the English had become a serious tea drinking nation.
“Taking tea” quickly became synonymous with colonialism, international trading, commerce and the British aristocracy.
Today tea drinking is an entrenched part of British life with over 60 billion cups of tea consumed annually.
English playwright and social satirist, Noel Coward, observation succinctly sums up the British national pastime!!
“Wouldn’t it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn’t have tea?”