Brief history of tea

March 13, 2018

Brief history of tea

The team at The Hamper Lounge are proud fans of tea, and many of our most popular products share this love of tea with our customers in the form of hampers, gift sets and very special individual items. Whether a tea devotee or someone eager to find out more about the wonderful world of tea, here’s a brief history of the UK’s most popular beverage…

Early Beginnings

Tea might be considered as quintessentially British by many, but the story of tea actually begins in China. It’s hard to trace the exact date at which the Chinese decided to boil tea leaves in water, but tea drinking was a well-established habit in Chinese culture during the time of the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), and became firmly entrenched as the nation’s national drink during the Tang dynasty of 618-906 AD. Tea soon became established as a vital part of Japanese culture as well, and the tradition of the tea ceremony began to develop.

Until this point in history, Europe had little knowledge of tea. During the 16th century, the drink began to become popular around the continent thanks to some trading in the East and the samples brought back by missionaries in the region. Before long, tea became a valuable import commercially, with the Dutch initially taking up the mantle of Europe’s primary tea drinkers. However during this time, tea was seen as the preserve of the rich, even as it spread throughout the rest of western Europe.

Britain’s love of tea

Thanks to a lengthy history spanning centuries, tea has become synonymous with British culture. However, it took a while for the Brits to fully embrace the tea trend, but the British East India Company soon developed a monopoly over all things tea, and the fashionable coffee shops in London began to offer tea as a novelty drink considered to have strongly medicinal properties. Throughout the 1600s the popularity of the beverage grew. This was in large part due to Queen Catherine of Braganza and her love of tea which spread throughout the upper classes during the reign of Charles II.

The British East India Company’s monopoly of the tea-trade ended in the 1800s, but by then the country was a nation of tea addicts. Today, we can purchase almost any kind of tea we like from a supermarket or specialist retailer, or choose to indulge in the luxury of afternoon tea at a restaurant or café.

The UK is a nation of tea lovers, and at The Hamper Lounge we provide the blends and varieties of tea to make your tea break that bit more special.

Our Tea Connoisseur gift box is perfect for the expert tea lover. Perfect tea blends by The Teamakers of London and The English Cream Tea Company