Tea Comes to England
With tea being known as the unofficial national drink of England, it’s easy to think tea has a significant history there. In actuality, tea has become popular in England recently, around the 17th century. This is recent compared to the thousands of years that tea has been consumed in Asia since tea’s discovery in China in 2737 BC. According to the history of tea, it was King Charles II’s Queen, Catherine of Braganza, who is attributed with spreading the trend of tea drinking among England’s elite.
England’s common people and lower class could get their tea at coffee houses beginning in 1657 at a London coffee house owned by Thomas Garway. The number of coffee houses grew to approximately 500 by 1700. The British government tried to take advantage of tea’s popularity by taxing tea and requiring coffee houses to have a license to serve tea. The increasing taxes on teas resulted in the common practice of tea smuggling. Since tea was in such high demand, tea smugglers often tried to sneak fillers from other plants into the teas. The Commutation Act of 1784 finally passed lowering the taxes on tea and stopped the smuggling.
In the early 1800s, Anna the Duchess of Bedford, introduced the custom of the afternoon tea or tea party. The afternoon tea satiated hunger between lunch and dinner and quickly became a social gathering. Traditional tea parties are still held in England and even America, often adapted with unique tea party ideas.
Another custom developed in England was enjoying tea and entertainment in a tea garden. In London, pleasure gardens like Vauxhall or Ranelagh Gardens were open to the public for the purposes of recreation plus drinking tea and strolling among lawns and ponds. Tea dances also took place at tea gardens.
Traditional English Teas
At tea parties and afternoons at the tea garden, the most popular English teas served are English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey Tea. English Breakfast tea is generally a medium or full bodied black tea. The caffeine content helps some people wake up in the morning but can certainly be enjoyed anytime of the day. These breakfast teas taste great with sugar and milk.
Earl Grey teas are a classic blend of fine black tea with the essence of bergamot. Most Earl Grey teas are also delicious with sugar and milk and Teavana's Earl Grey Crème tea has the vanilla and crème flavors already added. Get the familiar Earl Grey flavor in a nearly caffeine free tea with Earl Grey White Tea. Find these tasty English teas at Teavana and have your own tea party or tea dance.