L. Golender, Ship, 1994
King Charles II had married, while in exile, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1662). Charles himself had grown up in the Dutch capital. As a result, both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, the two rulers brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them.
In 1601, the first voyage of the East India Company set out under Captain James Lancaster and the ships the Dragon, the Hector, the Susan, and the Ascension. The fleet arrived in Aceh, in Sumatra, in 1602. Since the Dutch had already formed exclusive trading alliances, Lancaster resorted to piracy to bring back pepper, trading South India cottons and textiles in Java and Sumatra. The lack of success in the first EIC company expedition indicates that more funds were sorely needed to contest the Dutch dominance, and the East India Company would remain unsuccessful for the next twenty years because of the Dutch. In next voyages the company penetrated as far as Japan, and in 1610 and 1611 its first factories, or trading posts, were established in India in the provinces of Madras and Bombay. Under a perpetual charter granted in 1609 by King James I, the company began to compete with the Dutch trading monopoly in the Malay Archipelago, but after the massacre of Amboina the company conceded to the Dutch the area that became known as the Netherlands East Indies. Its armed merchantmen, however, continued sea warfare with Dutch, French, and Portuguese competitors.
England's first visit to China was made by John Weddell in 1637: like almost all of the EIC attempts, it was relatively unsuccessful. The Manchu Emperor opened his ports to foreign trade in 1685. The first trade base was Amoy, but later Guangzhou (Canton) became the center of commerce, especially the acquisition of tea. Although silk and chinaware factories were located many miles from Canton, it was the only place where foreign contact was permitted. Foreign merchants were allowed to establish factories along the Canton waterfronts. The main imports from China were tea, silk, and, initially, porcelain.
In 1650 and 1655 the company absorbed rival companies that had been incorporated under the Commonwealth and Protectorate by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. In 1657 Cromwell ordered it reorganized as the sole joint-stock company with rights to the Indian trade. During the reign of Charles II the company acquired sovereign rights in addition to its trading privileges. In 1689, with the establishment of administrative districts called presidencies in the Indian provinces of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, the company began its long rule in India. It was continually harassed by traders who were not members of the company and were not licensed by the Crown to trade. In 1698, under a parliamentary ruling in favor of free trade, these private newcomers were able to set up a new company, called the New Company or English Company. The John India Company, however, bought control of this new company, and in 1702 an act of Parliament amalgamated the two as "The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies." The charter was renewed several times in the 18th century, each time with financial concessions to the Crown. Their re-drafted charts gave the new East India Company a complete and total trade monopoly on all commerce in China and India. As a result, the price of tea was kept artificially high, leading to later global difficulties for the British crown. This company was organized into a court of 24 directors who worked through committees. The shareholders, dubbed the Court of Proprietors, annually elected these directors. When the company acquired control of Bengal in 1757, Indian policy was until 1773 influenced by shareholders' meetings, where votes could be bought by the purchase of shares. This led to government intervention. The Regulating Act of 1773 and Pitt's India Act of 1784 established government control of political policy through a regulatory board responsible to Parliament. Thereafter, the company gradually lost both commercial and political control, and its commercial monopoly was broken in 1813. From 1834 it was merely a managing agency for the British government of India. After the Indian Mutiny in 1857 it ceased to exist all together in 1873.
The victories of Robert Clive, a company official, over the French at Arcot in 1751 and at Plassey in 1757 made the company the dominant power in India. All formidable European rivalry vanished with the defeat of the French at Pondicherry in 1761. The Company saw the rise of its fortunes, and its transformation from a trading venture to a ruling enterprise, when one of its military officials, Robert Clive, defeated the forces of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. A few years later the Company acquired the right to collect revenues on behalf of the Mughal Emperor, but the initial years of its administration were calamitous for the people of Bengal. The Company's servants were largely a rapacious and self-aggrandizing lot, and the plunder of Bengal left the formerly rich province in a state of utter destitution. The famine of 1769-70, which the Company's policies did nothing to alleviate, may have taken the lives of as many as a third of the population. The Company, despite the increase in trade and the revenues coming in from other sources, found itself burdened with massive military expenditures, and its destruction seemed imminent. State intervention put the ailing Company back on its feet, and Lord North's India Bill, also known as the Regulating Act of 1773, provided for greater parliamentary control over the affairs of the Company, besides placing India under the rule of a Governor-General. In 1784 the India Act created a department of the British government to exercise political, military, and financial control over the Indian affairs of the company, and during the next half century British control was extended over most of the subcontinent.
In 1813 the company's monopoly of the Indian trade was abolished, and in 1833 it lost its China trade monopoly. Its annual dividends of 10.5 percent were made a fixed charge on Indian revenues. The company continued its administrative functions until the Sepoy Rebellion (1857-1859). In 1858, by the Act for the Better Government of India, the Crown assumed all governmental responsibilities held by the company, and its 24,000-man military force was incorporated into the British army. The company was dissolved on January 1, 1874, when the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act came into effect.
A common pattern of service soon merged. The first pot of tea was made in the kitchen and carried to the lady of the house who waited with her invited guests, surrounded by fine porcelain from China. The first pot was warmed by the hostess from a second pot (usually silver) that was kept heated over a small flame. Food and tea was then passed among the guests, the main purpose of the visiting being conversation.
The social critic Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the Marquise de Sevigne (1626-1696) makes the first mention in 1680 of adding milk to tea. Sugar from the plantations in Jamaica might also be added. About this time, as it was said, the Earl of Sandwich, who couldn't seem to tear himself away from the gambling tables long enough for lunch, had his valet bring him meats and other sustenance between two slices of bread so that he could eat and continue the games at the same time and thus the "sandwich" was born. The legend talks about John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, then it is only a legend. According to his biographer N.A.M. Roger, the Earl was so busy with his work in the government, so he hadn't have time even to eat. That caused him to invent the snack.
We have diaries of secretary of Edward Montague, First Earl of Sandwich, Samuel Pepys, describing this era.
Mulled wine (Gluhwein) was a favorite in Victorian England, and Negus - a type of mulled wine - was even served to children at their birthday parties. So, when the tea came along, it was added to the drink. Thus the Chrismas tea was born.
Later in the 18th century coffee houses declined as regular 'gentlemen's clubs' arose, offering better facilities but tea and coffee continued to be drunk.
Experiencing the Dutch "tavern garden teas", the English developed the idea of Tea Gardens. Here ladies and gentlemen took their tea out of doors surrounded by entertainment such as orchestras, hidden arbors, flowered walks, bowling greens, concerts, gambling, or fireworks at night. It was at just such a Tea Garden that Lord Nelson, who defeated Napoleon by sea, met the great love of his life, Emma, later Lady Hamilton. Women were permitted to enter a mixed, public gathering for the first time without social criticism. At the gardens were public, British society mixed here freely for the first time, cutting across lines of class and birth. so from the tea gardens came the idea of the tea dance, which remained fashionable in Britain until World War II when they disappeared from the social scene. Famous English composer James Hook's songs were regularly performed at the main London pleasure gardens: Marylebone, Covent, Vauxhall, Ranelagh.
Tipping as a response to proper service developed in the Tea Gardens of England. Small, locked wooden boxes were placed on the tables throughout the Garden. Inscribed on each were the letters "T.I.P.S." which stood for the sentence "To Insure Prompt Service". If a guest wished the waiter to hurry (and so insure the tea arrived hot from the often distant kitchen) he dropped a coin into the box on being seated "to insure prompt service". Hence, the custom of tipping servers was created.
In 1864 the manageress of the London Bridge branch of an Aerated Bread Company persuaded her directors to allow her to serve food and liquid refreshments in the shop. She dispensed tea to her more favored customers and soon attracted many clients clamoring for the same service. Not only did she unwittingly start the fashion for tea shops but also one foundation of women's emancipation, since an unchaperoned lady could meet friends in a tea shop without sullying her reputation. Tea shops spread throughout Britain, becoming as much a tradition as tea itself: and even today, despite the plethora of fast food and drink outlets, this tradition remains, attracting huge numbers of UK and foreign tourists.In 1955 Allied Bakeries, the consolidated company of Garfield Weston's holdings in Britain and the predecessor to Associated British Foods, made its first significant diversification beyond food processing and retailing. It purchased the Aerated Bread Company which, despite its name, was best known for its chain of 164 low-budget self-service tea rooms. Weston was now the owner of the second largest low-end restaurant chain in England, which was intended to serve as a market for Weston bread and confectionery. ABF has bought other tea companies, as Twininigs and Jacksons of Piccadilly.
So dominant was the tea culture within the English speaking cultures that many of these words came to hold a permanent place in English language.
By the late eighteenth century, opium had been used in much of Asia for several centuries. The drug had been taken as a medicine in China since Arab traders brought it from the Middle East in the seventh or eighth century A.D. Spaniards introduced the habit of smoking tobacco to the Philippines, and it spread from there to China about 1620. The Dutch in Formosa smoked a mixture of opium and tobacco to combat the effects of malaria, and a small number of Chinese acquired this habit as Well. Gradually, some of those who smoked omitted the tobacco from this narcotic blend and changed to opium, most of which was imported from India by Portuguese traders. The reasons for opium smoking varied considerably: for the rich it was primarily a luxury, a social grace, while the poor sought in it a temporary escape from their condition.
Chinese emperors tried to maintain the forced distance between the Chinese people and the "devils". In 1685 the Manchu Emperor opened all his ports to foreign trade, but later closed them, permitting the 'foreign devils' merely to trade at Canton. Here the European merchants established their houses or factories, and under the intolerable 'Eight Regulations' were allowed to do business through the medium of the Co-Hong or group of Chinese merchants. The authorities wished to subject foreign merchants to every indignity, but not to discourage them altogether, as enormous benefit was derived from the vast customs duties that were levied. Although the East India Company yearly grew more powerful, the Chinese always considered its members as mere barbarians who naturally wished to bring tribute to the Celestial Empire.
In 1839 the Ching government, after a decade of unsuccessful anti-opium campaigns, adopted drastic prohibitory laws against the opium trade. The emperor dispatched a commissioner, Lin Zexu (1785-1850), to Guangzhou to suppress illicit opium traffic. Lin seized illegal stocks of opium owned by Chinese dealers and then detained the entire foreign community and confiscated and destroyed some 20,000 chests of illicit British opium. The British retaliated with a punitive expedition, thus initiating the first Anglo-Chinese war, better known as the Opium War (1839-42). Unprepared for war and grossly underestimating the capabilities of the enemy, the Chinese were disastrously defeated, and their image of their own imperial power was tarnished beyond repair. The Treaty of Nanjing (1842), signed on board a British warship by two Manchu imperial commissioners and the British plenipotentiary, was the first of a series of agreements with the Western trading nations later called by the Chinese the "unequal treaties." Under the Treaty of Nanjing, China ceded the island of Hong Kong (or Xianggang in pinyin) to the British; abolished the licensed monopoly system of trade; opened 5 ports to British residence and foreign trade; limited the tariff on trade to 5 percent ad valorem; granted British nationals extraterritoriality (exemption from Chinese laws); and paid a large indemnity. The ports of Canton, Amoy, Foochow(Fuzhou), Ningpo and Shanghai were opened to free trade, with Consuls at each, where the merchants could buy and sell without the offices of the Co-Hong. In addition, Britain was to have most-favored-nation treatment, that is, it would receive whatever trading concessions the Chinese granted other powers then or later. The Treaty of Nanjing set the scope and character of an unequal relationship for the ensuing century of what the Chinese would call "national humiliations." The treaty was followed by other incursions, wars, and treaties that granted new concessions and added new privileges for the foreigners.
The British and French again defeated China in a second opium war in 1856. By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858) the Chinese opened new ports to trading and allowed foreigners with passports to travel in the interior. Christians gained the right to spread their faith and hold property, thus opening up another means of western penetration. The United States and Russia gained the same privileges in separate treaties.
The war disorder forced the British East India Company to develop tea plantations in India from natural tea bushes that had been discovered in Assam.
But in 1833, everything changed. The company lost its monopoly and suddenly woke up to the fact that India might prove a profitable alternative. A committee was set up, Charles Bruce was given the task of establishing the first nurseries, and the secretary of the committee was sent off to China to collect 80,000 tea seeds. Because they were still not sure that the tea plant really was indigenous to India, committee members insisted on importing the Chinese variety.
Meanwhile, up in Assam, Charles Bruce and the other pioneers were clearing suitable areas of land on which to develop plantations, pruning existing tea trees to encourage new growth, and experimenting with the freshly plucked leaves from the native bushes to manufacture black tea. Bruce had recruited two tea makers from China and, with their help, he steadily learnt the secrets of successful tea production.
The native plants flourished, while the Chinese seedlings struggled to survive in the intense Assam heat and it was eventually decided to make subsequent plantings with seedlings from the native tea bush. In 1835 the first indian tea company, Assam Tea Company was born. The first twelve chests of manufactured tea to be made from indigenous Assam leaf were shipped to London in 1838 and were sold at the London auctions. The East India Company wrote to Assam to say that the teas had been well received by some "houses of character", and there was a similar response to the next shipment, some buyers declaring it "excellent".
Having established a successful industry in Assam's Brahmaputra valley, with factories and housing settlements, the Assam Tea Company began to expand into other districts of north east India. Cultivation started around the town of Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas in the mid 1850s. By 1857, between 60 and 70 acres were under tea and, whereas the China variety of the tea plant had not liked the conditions in Assam, here at elevations of 2500 to 6000 feet, it grew well. The company pushed on into Terai and Dooars and even into the remote Kangra valley, 800 miles west of Darjeeling.India
It has been suggested that tea gained popularity in England because of economical reasons. Both tea and coffee were increasing in popularity during the beginning of the eighteenth century, but coffee became more difficult to import as demand for these two commodities grew. Coffee supply and prices were unstable, and rising demand pushed prices higher. Tea supply and prices stabilized earlier than coffee, so merchants preferred to deal in this commodity, and consequently advertised it more vigorously. In 1720, English Parliament prohibited the import of finished Asian textiles, with the goal of encouraging local textile manufacture. Until this time tea had been viewed as a secondary commodity, but now it was regarded with increasing interest, and it replaced silk as the primary Chinese export.
Ships from Holland and Scandinavia brought tea to the British coast, then stood offshore while smugglers met them and unloaded the precious cargo in small vessels. The smugglers, often local fishermen, snuck the tea inland through underground passages and hidden paths to special hiding places. One of the best hiding places was in the local parish church!
Even smuggled tea was expensive, however, and therefore extremely profitable, so many smugglers began to adulterate the tea with other substances, such as willow, licorice, and sloe leaves. Used tea leaves were also redried and added to fresh leaves.
In a time when inland communications were unimaginably bad, when most roads in England were tracks, dangerous at night and unusable part of the year, when most of the populace was illiterate, living and dying within ten or twenty miles of their birthplaces, smugglers undertook a nationwide sales campaign of an expensive novelty-and succeeded. They were only put out of business entirely after Waterloo, when the country finally had spare troops enough to enforce the laws. But the large-scale smuggling of tea had ended in 1784, when William Pitt the Younger introduced the Commutation Act, which dropped the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%. For most Britishers, it was the first intelligent act of government in living memory, coming as it did three years after their American colonists had ended another dispute over tea by compelling the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Tea adulteration remained a problem, though, until the Food and Drug Act of 1875 brought in stiff penalties for the practice.