Tuesday, August 27, 2013

History of Tea in Britain

Each day in Britain approximately 165 million cups of tea are drunk but how many people know the origins of the tea in their teabag? Tea is so integral to our routine that we might never stop to think about how a unique plant from faraway China became the nation´s favorite drink! We can trace its fascinating story from the earliest times in Imperial China right up to its present place at the heart of British life.

The history of tea in Britain has rather exotic beginnings in China and the Far East. There are various legends surrounding the origins of tea. Perhaps the most famous is the Chinese story of Shen Nung, the emperor and renowned herbalist, who was boiling his drinking water when leaves from a nearby tea shrub blew into the cauldron. He tasted the resulting brew, and the beverage of tea was born.
Tea first became established in Britain because of the influence of a foreign princess, Catherine of Braganza, the queen of Charles II. A lover of tea since her childhood in Portugal, she brought tea-drinking to the English royal court, and set a trend for the beverage among the aristocracy of England in the seventeenth century.

The fashion soon spread beyond these elite circles to the middle classes, and it became a popular drink at the London coffee houses where wealthy men met to do business and discuss the events of the day. But the tea that was being drunk in those seventeenth century coffee houses would probably be considered undrinkable now.

The first tea shop for ladies was opened by Thomas Twining in 1717 where tea is still served today. Slowly tea shops began to appear throughout England making the drinking of teas available to everyone. The British further developed their love of teas during the years of the British Empire in India.

Today tea is enjoyed throughout Britain. Be sure to relax with a cup of tea on your next vacation to Britain with Celtic Tours World Vacations.

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