Here are some strange and wonderful things we've discovered about tea!
- Tea replaced Gin as the drink of the masses in Eighteenth century England.
- The oriental tea ceremony was developed by Zen Buddhist monks. Their ritual of making tea expressed 'the quest of greatness in the smallest details of life', and are 'an outward form of an inner belief in the importance of peace and harmony'. Tea ceremonies would be run by Tea Masters, and follow the Way of Tea.
- Coffee actually pre-dates tea in England - early coffee houses started selling tea but it was slow to catch on until Catherine of Braganza, Charles II's wife made it trendy (like Posh Spice and St Tropez).
- Tea used to be so heavily taxed that it was imported and distributed by a black market of underground smugglers. Pitt the Younger (surely the best named Prime Minster in the history of England) realised that the 119% rate of tax was a bit daft, and slashed this to 12.5%. Tea smuggling ceased remarkably quickly.
- Early medics worried that tea drinking among the working classes would lead to weakness and melancholy (unlike Gin...!).
- During both the First and Second World War, the British Government took over the importing of tea, to make sure that our favourite hot cup of sustenance would still be within reach.
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