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Season 2022 – Talk 01 – Tea – The Cup that Cheers
In the talk Tea – The Cup that Cheers Richard Thomas takes us through the political economy of tea over the last few hundred years.
Click a thumbnail below to view the image gallery that accompanies the talk.
Types of tea:
We hear that tea first came from China. Apparently there is a record of the date when it was first identified. As Richard says, this is so accurate as to be unbelievable.
Indian tea becomes popular in the 19th Century. Ceylon also starts to produce tea when Thomas Lipton invests heavily in the crop.
More recently Kenya becomes a major tea producer.
Pepys is a committed tea drinker even though, in 1660, it is taxed at twice the rate of coffee. He writes ‘no person enjoyed with more relish the infusion of that fragrant leaf’.
It also has Royal patronage because Catherine de Braganza marries Charles II in 1662 and becomes England’s first tea drinking Queen.
It is initially sold as a medicine. Apparently it ‘clears obstructions’, ‘good for colds’, ‘helps headaches’ and ‘strengthens the memory’! It is also suggested that it slows cognitive decline. It’s a wonder cure!
For many years Wesley is a fervent tea drinker. In 1746 he gives up tea because it is ‘harmful to health, wasteful and sinful’. He saves £50 a year because he is no longer buying the highly taxed product.
After 14 years he starts drinking it again because doctors advise him to and he has a large Wedgwood teapot made.
On the other hand…..
William Cobbett, a famed son of Farnham, claims that it is ‘a destroyer of health’, an ‘enfeebler of the frame’, ‘an engenderer of effeminacy’, ‘a debaucher of youth’ and ‘a maker of misery in old age’. He argues that beer is more nutritious and cheaper!
Listen to the podcast and hear Richard tell the full story.
This podcast is a recording of a talk given remotely over the internet.
About this podcast:
This is an edited recording of a talk given to the Farnham u3a World History Group.
The Farnham u3a site is here.
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