The Origins of Tea Drinking in Britain

The Origins of Tea Drinking in BritainEarly modern tea drinking

Macadam, Joseph P.

The Bulletin of the English Society, Vol.37 (2009)


On September 25, 1660, the great chronicler, Sarnuel Pepys, made the following entry in his diary: ‘And afterwards did send for a Cupp of Tee (a China drink) of which I had never drank before’.’ Pepys could not have foreseen then the extent to which this new drink would become a part of British life in the years ahead. Nor could he have had knowledge of tea’s ancient roots, stretchng backwards into China’s misty past, where it had developed slowly, concealed for a lengthy period Victorian teaof time from the eyes of the rest of the world.

Pepys was a forthright, stalwart Englishman typical of his age, and like the vast majority of his countrymen at the time he enjoyed a good drink. Drink for the vast majority of the populace, with litt!e means at their disposal, meant ale. Cheap and easily brewed, it was consumed by men, women and chi!dren of all ages. Meanwhile the well-to-do, namely upperclass aristocrats and those who had made a success of their profession, indulged themselves in wines imported from the continent and a variety of other alcoholic drinks.

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