After tea began to grow in popularity in China and then Japan, but Europe took some time to catch on to this new trend. It was only in the later stages of sixteenth century that the first small mentions of tea-drinking came about amongst Europeans. These murmurs initially began within the Portuguese clans, who were currently living in the East as traders and missionaries. While the Portuguese were the first to bring across small shipments of tea to Europe, it was actually the Dutch colonies who were the first to initiate the shipment of tea as a commercial import. The Dutch had developed a trading post on the Java Island, where the first consignment of tea was shipped from China to Holland.
Tea quickly became a craze in Dutch culture, and from this point, began to spread to other countries in the continental region of Western Europe. For many years, tea remained a novel drink for only the wealthy, as the cost to import this new food type came with a high price tag.
The British culture, although now renowned for their love of tea, were initially suspicious of bringing this new product into their land, but eventually chose to comply. One of the very first adverts for tea in Britain can be dated back to 1658, with an announcement that stated ‘China Drink, called by the Chinese Tcha, by other nations Tay alias Tee’. Tea became a fast-growing frenzy in Britain around the time of King Charles II’s marriage to Queen Catherine of Braganza, who was a devout tea-lover. This set the trend for the British culture, and became a fashionable beverage, first at court, and then among the wealthy classes as a whole.
Next week we will be sharing more on the journey of tea, looking at the details of tea smuggling and taxation.
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Tea blends, like those mentioned above, can be purchased from The Tea Merchant stores nationwide and via our online store. To view the product online, click here: https://www.theteamerchant.co.za/collections/loose-leaf-tea
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