Tea Health, Tea Clippers & The Tea Bag. Join us for our final leg of the tea journey!

In our last article, we explored the growth and development of tea in Britain, and with it, the exorbitant taxes that were attached to tea. These high taxation laws led to the illegal tea smuggling trade, which contributed to more than double the volume of tea imports during the 18th century. If you missed the last article, make sure to read it on our blog.

In this article, we’re looking into the tea and health debate, tea trading and consumption, and how this has influenced our modern-day tea drinking. This article concludes our Tea Journey, and we’re very excited to announce one lucky winner on 29 September 2017. It’s not too late to enter, so give this article a read, then simply share it on Facebook and tag The Tea Merchant for your chance to win a tea hamper to the value of R500.

Around the time of the tea taxation laws in the 18th century, the debate around tea and health began to heat up and gain traction. The health debate was heavily flawed though, with many wealthy philanthropists believing that tea drinking would weaken the working class and impair their productivity. However, the same concern was not expressed for the ever-growing trend and fashion of tea drinking in the upper classes. It appears that now, the health debate was less about health, and more about wealthy greed!

In 1834, The East India Company’s monopoly on trade with China came to an end, opening a huge opportunity for India to trade tea. Up until this point, China was responsible for most of the tea imported to Britain. With this change in tea trading laws, India began cultivating their own tea and soon became the center of the East India Company’s operations. This meant that the import power shifted towards India, and even resulted in them having leadership authority within governmental decisions.

By 1858, tea cultivation was a huge part of India’s economic development and the British government saw this as an opportunity to take over direct control of India from the East India Company. With this new acquisition of power, tea promotion and cultivation continued to grow exponentially, and by 1888, tea exports from India to Britain had exceeded those of the previous exports from China.

The competition for trade across international waters grew too, and ushered in the era of ‘tea clippers’. Clippers were the introduction of sleek, powerful boats, with tall masts and huge sails. Individual merchants and sea captains with their own ships raced to bring home the tea and make the most money. This competition was most fierce between British and American merchants, leading to the famous clipper races in the 1860’s. These races began in China, where clippers would navigate the Canton River, travel across international waters through the Chinese sea, across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, up through the Atlantic Ocean, passed the Azores and finally into the English Channel. The clippers were then towed up the River Thames by tugs, and the first ship to offload their cargo at the docks won the race.

During the First and Second World War, tea rationing became a reality once more and this ultimately led to a lower consumption and demand, which affected tea trading up until the end of World War II in 1945. At the end of the war, tea quickly began to grow in popularity again, and not long after this, the tea bag was developed. Americans initially invented tea bags in the early twentieth century, however news only spread to Britain towards 1970, and once these hit the shelves, this solidified the tea drinking tradition worldwide, and as we see it today,

For most of us, the thought of tea-drinking without a tea bag seems hard to imagine. Nowadays, teabags are an essential element of most modern-day tea drinking habits, which makes the story behind this journey even more fascinating.

At The Tea Merchant, we specialise is all types of tea blends, including loose tea leaves, and tea bag variants. View our extensive range of tea types and blends on our website! All teas 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/

To find a shop closest to you, visit our store locator here: https://www.theteamerchant.co.za/apps/store-locator

We hope this tea journey has provided some valuable insight into the history of tea, and has made your modern tea drinking traditions even more enjoyable. Don’t forget to enter our competition. Simply share this article on Facebook and tag The Tea Merchant for your chance to win a tea hamper to the value of R500.


Nico Basson
Nico Basson

Author