22/02/17: Tea trade, China to Britain.

Today I have been searching for sources that can reveal the historical context of China and Britain’s tea trade. Below are my sources that I have extracted information from. Because these sources are lengthy in their texts, I have simply read through each one and written out a personal evaluation, drawing together the common facts.

Source 1: The Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee. ( n.d.). History of Tea. Retrieved from: http://teaandcoffeemuseum.co.uk/tea/index.htm

Source 2: Greenberg, M. (1969). British Trade and the Opening of China 1800-1842. Cambridge University Press Library Edition. http://bit.ly/2maJkZp

Source 3: University of Minnesota. (2016). Tea consumers, Tea Trade, and Colonial Cultivation. Retrieved from: https://www.lib.umn.edu/bell/tradeproducts/tea

Source 4: UK Tea and infusions Association. (2017).  Tea – A Brief History of the Nation’s Favourite Drink. Retrieved from:  http://www.tea.co.uk/tea-a-brief-history

Personal evaluation of all sources:

According to these various sources, the tradition of preparing and drinking tea can be traced back to an ancient Chinese myth. Whilst sitting under a Camellia Sinensis, Emperor Shen Nong had his servant boil water only to have some of the leaves fall into his boiling pot. This story is believed to be how tea was initially discovered, although it cannot be completely verified.


Although tea is commonly associated with that of Britain, it was the Dutch who first commercially imported this commodity into their homeland. This is commonly recorded to have happened around the early 1600’s, with 1610 appearing as more agreeable date. Britain truly began to adopt this new beverage throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, yet its first glimpses into British society occurred around mid 1600’s, when the first Coffee Houses were established throughout London. It was here were tea was also served and drunk amongst businessmen, merchants and men alike. Women were often banned from such places, so instead they would reserve tea for the home (I would like to research a bit more about these coffee houses now, to see if I can find where tea was first served publicly). There were heavy taxations on tea up until the 18th century. This meant that tea was mostly viewed as a commodity and was initially not well spread throughout the working class.

After having read through these sources I now know about the origins of tea and when tea was shipped over to Britain, by whom (The British East India Trading Company) and how (Clipper ships). I only want to skim over this section of research, as I need to move onto researching and analysing tea packaging.


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