September 23, 2016
358th Anniversary of Tea in the UK
Tea drinking is a thoroughly British pastime, whether it’s a mug of steaming builder’s tea or a delicate cup and saucer served with cucumber sandwiches. It’s not known when the first cuppa was enjoyed in the UK, but we do know that the first advert for tea in England appeared on this date in a publication from 1658 describing it simply as a “China Drink.” A couple of years later, English Naval Administrator Samuel Pepys wrote about drinking tea in his diary entry from 1660.
Chinese tea was reportedly drunk by Europeans as early as the 16th century, a trend spearheaded by Dutch and Portuguese traders. British coffee shops were selling tea in the 17th century, though drinking it was considered an expensive, upper-class privilege. By the 19th century, The East India Company was using fast ships called tea clippers to transport leaves from India and China to England’s docks. The Cutty Sark is the only surviving clipper of its kind and can still be visited in Greenwich.
As tea became more readily available, dedicated tea shops began popping up throughout the UK, becoming favorite spots for daytime socialising. Tea was well on its way to becoming a British tradition.
As today’s animated Doodle illustrates, tea cups come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Whatever your favorite vessel may be, we hope you enjoy a cuppa or two of this enduring drink today.