Tea comes to England

Tea actually originated in China. England was one of the last European countries to adopt it. They were a little slow to accept it. The first advertisement for tea appeared in an English newspaper in 1658. The East India Company gave a present of tea to Charles II. By the early eighteenth century, the East India Company had a monopoly on the British Tea Trade. England preferred the tea from India over that from China.

England started out with coffee being the more popular drink. Tea was popularized by Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II and from Portugal, when she brough chests of tea as part of her dowry.

With the monopoly of imports by the East India Company, prices were artificially high. Not only that but the government put a high duty price on tea to the tune of 119%! This led to smuggling.

In 1783, William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister and slashed the duty to 12.5% and added tax to the window trade. This caused smuggling to no longer be profitable and the tea smuggling trade disappeared.

Jody Victor