Extending to the West

The spread of tea across the globe may not have happened had it not spread to the west first. Let us look through this history with all its twists and turns that it has to offer.

Tea was first introduced to the West by Dutch and Portuguese explorers who went off to find the “end of the world”. They sure didn’t find the end of the world but they found something that would keep us hooked until the end of time- they found tea! Now the issue was getting this tea back to their homelands back in Europe. Till that point in history the only tea being sold was green tea and in order for the tea to be transported to the West it had to be processed into black tea so that it would last longer. Wouldn’t you know it, the Chinese were the first to process black tea as well.

Originally in the West tea drinking was not popular except amongst the French. Even though today we know England to be the tea hub of Europe, at that time it was considered just a medicinal drink. It wasn’t until Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, and her love for tea came to England that tea became highly regarded by the people of England. A craze had begun over black tea and it was now a commodity that was highly sought after.

The expensive price put on tea naturally drew con men and criminals towards it. These con men smuggled and sold tea that was not actually tea- they sold dried ordinary leaves colored to look like tea and mixed with harmful chemicals. This spike in crime eventually led to the taxes on tea being reduced from an outrageous 119 percent to a mere 12.5 percent and thus tea became a beverage for the bourgeois.