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Why did English tea become famous?

English tea

by Parastoo Sahebi
10 minutes read

The popularity of English tea and the tea industry in England has a long history. The arrival of this drink to England began around 1600 AD. At first, sailors and merchants took tea from Asia to their cities in England as a gift. The first teahouse was established in London in 1652, and for a long time, people looked at tea with curiosity.

This article from Eligasht brings to you the history of tea in England and all the details related to it. Eligasht offers easy booking of plane tickets, hotels, and tours all over the world.

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How did the British interest in tea begin?

Tea, one of England’s most popular beverages, has not long been attributed to Britain. Although tea drinking began in China in the 3rd millennium BC, it did not reach England until the mid-17th century. Tea slowly spread to Asian countries and reached Venice in Europe by 1560. today English tea is one of the most popular known teas in the world.

One of the influential issues in the popularity of tea drinking in England and Europe is related to the marriage of “Charles II” to the Portuguese princess named “Braganza”. Princess Braganza loved tea, and this had a great impact on the introduction and spread of tea in England and Europe. When she went north to join King Charles, she is said to have taken tea leaves with her as part of her furniture, possibly as part of her dowry. There is also an interesting legend that the box was written Transporte de Ervas Aromatics (Transportation of Aromatic Herbs), which was later shortened to T.E.A. . tea was first used as a drink among the aristocracy and also by the judges of the English courts, and then among Other sections of the people of England also spread to some extent.


London cafes

It is interesting to know that it was London cafes that introduced tea to England for the first time. One of the famous tea merchants was Thomas Garvey who had a cafe in Exchange Alley in London. He offered brewed tea and dry tea to customers since 1657. Three years later, he ran an ad selling tea to the public. The text of this ad was as follows: Energize your body and avoid aging.

Since then, English tea has become very popular among cafes and many stores have made it available for people to buy. This upset other guilds as tea reduced sales of other beverages and became a threat to the government; Because they didn’t tax tea. By 1750, English tea had become the preferred drink of the lower classes in England.


English tea tax

Charles II did his best to prevent its growth by imposing strict laws on the sale of tea. This was designed to counter the growth of tea drinking but was so unusual that it was impossible to implement. After that, a law was made that cafes must have a license to sell or supply tea.

This was just part of the government’s attempt to control or reduce the popularity of tea in Britain. By the middle of the 18th century, the tax on tea had reached 119 percent. This heavy tax created a completely new industry, and that was English tea smuggling.

English tea smuggling

Ships from Holland and Scandinavia would come to British shores and wait for smugglers to load the valuable tea ashore. Smugglers, who were usually fishermen, took the tea through underground passages to secret warehouses. One of these special warehouses was hidden in one of the famous buildings of that time. However, even English tea smuggling was expensive, but due to the high profits of those smugglers, they decided to mix tea with other ingredients such as fruit, quince, licorice, and forest plum leaves. Used tea leaves were also dried again and mixed with fresh leaves.

Finally, in 1784, William Pitt reduced the tax from 119% to 12.5%, which ended the work of smugglers. Of course, cheating in the English tea industry remained until it was stopped due to the heavy fines imposed on it.

Clipper tea boats

In the late 1800s, ships carrying tea from the Far East to Britain could take more than a year to reach Britain with their precious cargo. When the East India Company acquired a monopoly on the tea trade in 1832, it realized that it needed to reduce this travel time. The Americans designed the first “clippers”, yacht-like ships, but the British benefited the most. These clippers were scattered in 18 points of the ocean, which were in charge of transporting tea, and they were as fast as a modern ships today.

The speed of these clippers became so famous that an annual race was held between the clippers from Kenton River to London Dock. The first ship to arrive to unload its cargo won a valuable prize for its captain and crew. The most famous clipper ship was Cutty Sark, built in 1868. This ship only carried tea eight times, but this amount was very significant for that time. Cutty Sark is now on display at the Greenwich Exhibition.

English tea customs

Afternoon English tea is said to have been first held by a person named Anne, the 7th Lady of the Duke of Bedford. In the early 1800s, he came up with the idea of ​​having English tea with the family between dinner and lunch and in the afternoon. This custom soon became common among the working class because they didn’t eat much after lunch, and eventually it became a common culture throughout Britain.


English tea shops

The origins of the English tea shops that are so popular today can be traced back to one person. In 1864, the manager of Aerated Bread Company started offering English tea and food to his customers. Of course, this service was done only for special customers, after which other people quickly requested the same from the store. The concept of English the tea shop sounded like a bomb across the UK and became very popular among the ladies. Because they could communicate with their friends in a calm and quiet atmosphere without being disturbed.

English tea and pottery

You may be asking yourself, does English tea have anything to do with the growth of the pottery industry in Britain? The answer is simple. Tea was traditionally drunk in cups without handle in China. When tea became popular in England, people needed cups with handles so that they could adapt the tea to their traditions.

This led to the rapid growth of the pottery and porcelain industry, and companies such as Wedgwood, Spud, and Royal Dalton benefited greatly from this event.

English tea in the homes of English people

After the sale of Leafy tea by some of the same coffee shops, English tea entered the homes of English people and found many fans among English ladies. Due to the high price of tea in those years, women served their guests English tea only during special celebrations. Chinese teapots and glasses with silver kettles were often used at these parties.

Green tea and black tea were usually consumed with sugar, and mixing milk with tea entered the tea culture in England after the 18th century. Afternoon English tea also arrived in England two hundred years later.

At that time, tea gardens, which were a quiet and peaceful atmosphere for drinking evening English tea, were created. these gardens are less used in urban life today, but the tradition of having evening English tea in the homes of British people continues. Currently, tea is considered the national drink of England.

English tea ceremony

According to the old English tradition, afternoon tea is served at 3-4 pm.

The traditional British afternoon tea is drunk in the late evening and fills the gap between the midday and evening meals. This is the most traditional time to enjoy British afternoon tea. But you can enjoy English tea at any hour of the day!

  • Use china, ceramic, or glass cups to serve English tea. These cups do not affect the taste of the tea and are easily found in home improvement stores. The most traditional cup for serving English tea is the Chinese cup.
  • Avoid using plastic or metal cups to serve tea, as this can affect its taste.
  • In more formal or traditional ceremonies, a saucer is often used for cups. This is not necessary for casual and friendly events.
  • Pour the tea from the teapot into individual cups.
  • Place the cups on a flat surface. Make sure the kettle is closed and don’t leave any cups empty.
  • Be careful not to overfill the cups. It should fill about three-quarters of the cup.
  • If desired, add milk to the black tea.
  • The amount of milk added to English tea is entirely optional. As a rule of thumb, use an 80:20 ratio. That is, try to make it 80% tea and 20% milk.
  • Everyone has their taste in tea. If you are not sure, always ask your guests about their milk and sugar preferences.
  • Low-fat milk is usually used in English tea. Avoid cream or full-fat milk.
  • Milk and sugar are usually only added to black tea. And green tea is served plain because it tastes best on its own.
  • If you prefer, add 1-2 teaspoons of white sugar to black tea.
  • Use a clean teaspoon. Carefully pour the sugar into the teacup. Never use brown sugar or sugar. Because it makes the tea taste bad.
  • If you have added milk or sugar, stir your tea carefully.
  • Use another clean teaspoon and gently mix in the tea and additional ingredients. When stirring, your spoon should not hit the wall or the bottom of the cup because it will make an annoying sound.
  • Enjoy  tea with light snacks.



Today, England is one of the most important exporters of tea in the world. English tea is a popular drink all over the world. The culture of drinking English tea and the tea party is an important and interesting part of the history of England, something you have probably seen in different movies and books. People meet their friends for afternoon English tea and many appointments and meetings are arranged for this time. The custom of afternoon English tea is one of the simple pleasures of life in England.

Tea as a drink brings people together and friendships and social relationships are formed around this lovely drink.  you can try this ceremony and enjoy your tea by socializing with others in a traditional English way.


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1 comment

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