How did the British fall in love with tea?

Afternoon tea is the most solemn time of the British people’s day. In the UK, a classic ballad is sung like this: “When the clock rings all around, everything in the world stops for tea in an instant.”

In the classic literary work “Pride and Prejudice”, many protagonists must have a tea party after eating. The most important protagonist in the English afternoon tea is the black tea that the British love most.

There is no doubt that the UK has 300 years of tea drinking history, and the UK is also the country with the highest consumption of black tea. And the love of black tea in this country has to start with a Portuguese woman.

Afternoon tea originated from the United Kingdom. In the eyes of the British, there is probably nothing more important than enjoying an afternoon tea. In the British movie “Queen”, there is such a bridge. In the scene, Queen Elizabeth is facing away from the scene. The news of Princess Diana’s death makes all the pressure of public opinion directly point to the royal family. The development of the situation is not optimistic, and here At that time, Prince Philip just turned his head to the queen and told her:

The British drama “Downton Abbey” truly shows the living conditions of the nobles in the early 20th century on the TV screen, where exquisite afternoon tea is naturally indispensable.

Some people say that Jane Austen’s work is a turmoil in a teacup. In her novels, the most common scenes are scenes of heroines chatting with others at the tea table, and without that cup of tea, those wonderful conversations would cease to exist.

In World War II, tea also had a miraculous effect on boosting the morale of British soldiers. Many British people believe that it was tea that allowed them to win the war. Even during the war, the British maintained the habit of drinking tea, and even stopped the fire to drink tea every five o’clock in the afternoon. The Germans had to wait for them to finish their tea before fighting!

Nowadays, as an extremely vivid cultural symbol, afternoon tea has long surpassed the simple food pattern and has become a widely popular social fashion. But no matter how the afternoon tea culture extends, tea is always the absolute protagonist. And in the UK, whether to drink black tea or not is even used to reflect an important standard of a person!

The popularity of black tea in the UK is attributed to a woman

So, what is the black tea that makes the British so obsessed with? Black tea originates from the East but has the most international style. Its most intuitive feature is “red soup and red leaves”. Therefore, the tea soup that is brewed is red or orange-red, and the bottom of the leaf is also slightly brownish red. It is currently sold in the world. The largest type of tea.

As early as the early 17th century, Tongmuguan in Wuyishan area of ​​Fujian pioneered the development of Lapsang Souchong black tea. Therefore, Lapsang Souchong black tea can also be regarded as the originator of black tea in the world.

The reason why black tea is so popular all over the world has to be attributed to the right time and place. The seventeenth century was in the era of Western navigation, so black tea spread to Europe and became popular among aristocratic circles in various countries.

In 1662, the Portuguese princess Catherine married King Charles II. Among the dowry she carried with her, there was exactly a box of tea leaves. However, as a foreigner, Catherine was not happy after marriage, only drinking tea made her feel consoled and approached. As a result, she often invites others to come to the palace for tea and parties. At the time, tea was an exotic luxury item for the British aristocracy.

At that time, the British upper class society had very rich breakfasts, lunch time was shortened, and dinner would not start until around 8 o’clock in the evening. Therefore, some people were used to eating snacks around 4 o’clock in the afternoon to supplement energy.

Among them, there is a countess named Anna Maria who sends a maid every afternoon to prepare a pot of black tea and snacks for her. In current terms, this is simply the originator of the petty bourgeoisie! Friends shared, and soon afternoon tea became popular in the upper class of the British society, and the nobles began to gather for tea and chat in the afternoon.

But at that time, the price of this luxury item was as high as 120 shillings per pound. Based on the current prices, converted into RMB, it was about 30,000 yuan per jin! That is, the nobles of the upper class can buy it and taste it.

In the 18th century, the people’s demand for tea was even greater, but the government’s heavy taxes caused the price of tea to remain high. In order to evade consumption tax, smuggling began to be active. By the 1870s, most tea entered the UK through smuggling channels. According to the explosion, about 3 million tons of tea entered the country illegally, while only 2 million tons were entered through legitimate channels.

In 1785, under pressure from law-abiding tea merchants, the government drastically reduced the tax on tea, so smuggling was wiped out almost overnight, and the price of tea dropped drastically. So far, it has truly become a popular drink. By 1800, according to the record of a foreigner at the time, it had become the new national drink of the United Kingdom. By 1900, the per capita tea consumption in the UK had reached 3 tons per year. In current terms, the tea at that time was simply “flow responsibility”!

There are also storms in a warm and peaceful cup of tea

But in a cup of warm and tranquil tea, there are also storms-in the beginning, tea was a “local product” of China, and it was not produced in other places, or it was produced in average quality and not large in quantity. Therefore, Europeans can only buy tea from China.

The spread of tea to the west began with Dutch colonists, who transported tea from the far east to Europe, and soon became popular. Then, the Dutch occupied the tea trade between China and Europe, and its capital, Amsterdam, became Europe. Through the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch trade in China was completely destroyed and replaced by China and China. The new monopolist of European trade.

At the same time, Britain began to “expand trade” to obtain cheap tea from China. The British traded with woolen textiles for tea, but because the Chinese were used to using homespun fabrics and few people bought woolen textiles, the British still had to buy tea with silver, which caused a long-term trade deficit. In order to smooth the trade deficit, the British people’s next business was to sell opium to China.

The British world famous book “Robinson Crusoe” published in April 1719, wrote about Robinson Crusoe. Textiles were exported in exchange for opium grown by Indian farmers; then, the British shipped Indian opium to China in exchange for silver; finally, the silver was exchanged for tea and shipped back to Europe for sale.

In this way, the United Kingdom established a “British India China” triangle trade area. Through the opium trade, the United Kingdom successfully smoothed the trade deficit and at the same time obtained Chinese tea, becoming a big winner.

The next strategy for Britain to obtain tea is war. Because the opium trade increased, leading to the outflow of silver, which seriously interfered with the economy of the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Daoguang sent Lin Zexu to Guangzhou to smoke, and decided to terminate the trade with the United Kingdom, calling it a “district” tax and silver. You don’t care about the trade tax and silver, but the UK can’t. Variables, the British army crossed the oceans, launched the war of aggression against China, completely opened the door to China’s trade, and tea came in from now on.

Free trade has been achieved, but the British are still not satisfied. They need more tea while paying interest. Therefore, they proceeded to the third step: their own production. In 1822, the Royal Society of Arts established a plan to offer a reward to “the tea growers and processors capable of developing Chinese-scale tea in the British area.”

In 1834, the British East India Company set out to develop a new source of tea, looking for suitable tea-growing locations. After several choices, I found that the climate in the Assam region of India is similar to that of China, which is the most suitable. When I visited there again, I was surprised to find that it was there in 1838, and the British began to establish a modern tea production base in India. By 1876, British consumption of Indian tea began to surpass that of China, and Chinese tea exports went downhill.

In this way, after taking the three steps of trade, war and its own production, the British government finally turned the scarce item of tea into its own bag.

Samuel Johnson, a great writer in the 18th century, once wrote a poem specifically for tea: “Enjoy the evening with tea, soothe the evening with tea, and welcome the dawn with tea.” The true British, as long as It’s enough to see if he has a tightly pressed upper lip, and if he has an almost fanatical love for black tea! Quiet, being diluted…

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