The untold story behind the British love to drink tea

Just imagine what a real Englishman looks like in your eyes. No matter what picture flashes in your mind, I believe that person must have a stiff upper lip and a cup of tea in his hand. That’s right, the British are like that, they are good at being quiet and love tea. Tea drinking has been completely Britishized and has become an indispensable part of British culture, which has profoundly affected people’s understanding of British culture in other countries in the world.

As we all know, China was the first country to start drinking tea, and Westerners are grateful for it. However, thanks to the Portuguese, especially a Portuguese woman, drinking tea was widely spread in the UK, which is little known. The next time you go to the Ritz Hotel and savor the steaming oolong tea in a delicate teacup, or the next time you go to the Victoria and Albert Museum and stand under the portrait of Earl Grey, think about it. .

Few people know that the Portuguese inspired the popularity of tea in the UK

In 1662, Princess Catherine of the Bragança dynasty (daughter of King John IV of Portugal) married King Charles II of England. Her dowry was extremely rich, including gold and silver treasures, spices, and important ports of Tangier and Tangiers with great economic value. Mumbai. After the marriage, Catherine became the queen of England, Scotland and Ireland with a prominent position.

After that, she went all the way north to meet with King Charles. It is said that her belongings contained some loose tea; perhaps, this was also one of her dowry items. Interestingly, it is said that these tea leaves were recorded in the book Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas (Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas), which was later abbreviated as “T.E.A.”.

Although this legend may be untrue (etymologists believe that the English word “tea” is derived from the transliteration of Chinese characters), it is certain that Portugal traded directly with China through the Macao colony, so tea was able to be used by the Portuguese aristocracy. Prevail in. In the middle of the 16th century, Portugal settled in the colony of Macau for the first time (now, another proof of gastronomic exchange is Portuguese egg tarts).

After the Princess Catherine of the Bragança dynasty of Portugal married King Charles II of England, she continued to maintain the habit of drinking tea as part of her daily life

When Catherine first arrived in the UK, tea was only used as a medicine to circulate in the market. The effect of the medicine was to invigorate people’s energy and strengthen the spleen. However, this young queen is accustomed to drinking tea every day and insists on the habit of drinking tea. Over time, tea ceased to be a health and refreshing medicine, developed into a social drink, and became popular in the UK.

“After her marriage with King Charles, Catherine quickly became the focus of everyone’s attention-her dress, the furniture she used… everything related to her became royal talks,” “Catherine, Princess of Bragança: Charlie II “Queen of the World” author Sarah Beth Watkins said. “Her daily tea-drinking activities have attracted many people to follow suit. The ladies came in one after another to imitate her tea-drinking habits in order to integrate into the queen’s social circle.”

Not long after Catherine married to Britain, the popular poet Edmund Waller even wrote a birthday ode to her, linking the queen from Portugal with the British tea-drinking style forever. The poem wrote:

“The most wise queen, the most miraculous plant, that brave country, the beautiful place bathed in sunshine, gives us a rich gift. We sing with a grateful heart.”

The ladies wanted to integrate into Catherine’s social circle, so they came one after another and imitated her tea drinking habits.

To be precise, tea appeared before Catherine married to England, but it was not popular at the time. “It is recorded that Waller had the habit of drinking tea in 1657, which was six years before the appearance of Catherine,” said Markman Ellis, a professor at Queen Mary University of London, who is dedicated to 18th century research. He co-authored “Tea Empire: Asian Leaves That Conquer the World”. “He was a well-known tea-drinking enthusiast, which was rare at the time. The reason was that tea was expensive, and everyone drank coffee at that time.”

There are three reasons why tea is expensive: first, there was no direct trade between Britain and China at that time; second, the tea from India had not reached the United Kingdom; third, the Dutch imported a small amount of tea, so the price was very high.

“The reason why tea is so expensive is that the tariffs imported from China are very high,” said Jan Pettigrew, whose book “The Social History of Tea” was awarded the best tea in the 2014 World Tea Awards. Industry Educator Award, as the research director of the British Tea Academy.

Since Britain had no direct trade with China at that time, the price of tea was very expensive

In fact, the price of tea was astonishingly high at the time (a pound is equivalent to a year’s income of the working class), Ellis also said, “Except for the top and richest people in society, no one else can afford it. Tea leaves. So tea has become a means for ladies and the royal family. Friendship with Catherine through tea is the best example.”

What’s wrong with celebrities drinking tea? Ordinary people will imitate celebrities to drink tea. “No matter what the queen does, others will blindly follow suit. So by the end of the 17th century, the nobles naturally started to drink small amounts of tea,” Pettigrew said.

Of course, the tea-drinking ceremony is not an invention of the upper class, but also stems from imitation. According to Pettigrew, “Until the Dutch brought tea, we British people knew something about tea. We had no sugar spoons, no cups, no teapots (only kitchen kettles), so we still followed the old method: imitating Chinese The whole tea drinking ceremony. We import small porcelain tea cups, cup holders, sugar spoon utensils and small teapots from China.”

The British imitated the whole set of Chinese tea drinking rituals and imported teapots from China

The reason why tea-drinking porcelain became popular in Britain was also influenced by Catherine’s home country, Portugal. “Portugal is one of the routes for importing porcelain into Europe,” Ellis said. “Porcelain is expensive, but very delicate and beautiful. One of the reasons why tea drinking is popular is that you can use these exquisite tea sets, just like owning the latest Apple mobile phones.”

Perhaps it is precisely because of the preciousness of porcelain that it can be used as Catherine’s dowry. Like other ladies, after Catherine started living in the UK, she used these exquisite objects to increase the taste of afternoon tea. Pettigrew explained, “In the beginning, she just drank tea in the royal family, taking it as a noble habit, luxurious scenes, full of upper class style. Therefore, the tea drinking ceremony has been quickly introduced since China. It is inseparable from the elegant life. As soon as tea was introduced to the UK, it became associated with noble ladies and mansions. I think Catherine played an important role in this process. The main reason was that porcelain was very expensive. The poor only used pottery, only the nobles. You can afford all precious things. The same is true in modern society: the more expensive things you consume, the higher your status.

Markman Ellis said: “One of the reasons why tea drinking is so popular is that you can use these exquisite tea sets.”

Later, the lower class made tea drinking more civilians. But in today’s society, tourists in London can still experience the luxury of aristocracy through the afternoon tea service provided by high-end hotels, especially in the Court Gallery of the Langham Hotel in London (which is said to be the birthplace of afternoon tea), Hehe The famous Ritz London and Claridge’s.

In addition, you can also experience an extremely grand tea-drinking ceremony in Portugal. Nevertheless, even in Portugal, the relationship between the British tea-drinking style and Queen Catherine is not well known. However, a hotel in the ancient town of Sintra is working hard to change this situation. This is the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais Sintra Hotel. The general manager of the hotel, Mario Custódio, plans to hold a Catherine-themed afternoon tea event in October. “When we were studying, we didn’t understand this history,” Custodio said. “I don’t know anything, even the other Portuguese don’t know anything about it.”

The Sintra area is about a 30-minute journey from Lisbon, extending outward to the foot of the lush vegetation. It is famous for gathering European romantic architecture and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Seteais Palace was built in the 1780s by the Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester. The palace is luxuriously decorated and unique in shape, which has become a beautiful landscape in the Sintra landscape. Weird decorations in the form of wedding cakes stand high above the intertwined gardens and parks. Although Queen Catherine never lived here, the ancient wealth and classic buildings gathered here vividly show the past life of the Portuguese aristocracy. Imagine a group of gorgeously dressed ladies gathering in a magnificent living room. From time to time, there are crisp teacups clashing and whispering whispers.

Visitors can still experience traditional English afternoon tea in high-end London hotels, such as the Ritz Hotel

Custodio believes that presenting these little-known historical fragments through reality can help tourists get a more unique and personalized travel experience. “The reason why I try to present these unknown histories is because these are the wealth of modern society,” he said.

The daily afternoon tea service (available to hotel guests only) highlights the connection between Portugal and the elegant tea-drinking tradition. For example, Custodio is collaborating with historians, hoping to make the tea that Queen Catherine drank at the time (Ellis thinks it is likely to be green tea, the reason is that long after the Queen’s death, it was not available until the 1830s. Tea from India was introduced to Britain). Custodio also hopes to be able to make marmalade, because in the process of research, he accidentally discovered that marmalade is also one of the many mysterious legends of Princess Catherine of the Bragança dynasty. It is said that some of the best oranges in the world come from Portugal, and Queen Catherine will regularly ship these oranges to her new home in the UK. Some oranges deteriorated in quality during transportation, and they were finally made into marmalade. It is best if you can enjoy oranges intact, but if Queen Catherine gives you marmalade instead of oranges, it means that she does not value you very much.

Go to Sintra Setas Palace to experience the past life of Portuguese nobles

Promote Seth Ass Palace, of course, not to comment on you. Custodio’s purpose is simple. He hopes to provide tourists with themed afternoon tea service and give tourists a small book. There is a QR code printed in the book. Scan the QR code to get more pictures, historical data and interesting stories. He just wanted to use these methods to help tourists understand the culture and beauty of his hometown, and to discover how the queen who married away from another country had a profound impact on the British tea-drinking culture.

“Queen Catherine has made a great contribution to tea culture. We Portuguese do not want to turn a blind eye to this. I hope this precious history can continue.”

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