August 02, 2020
History of Tea | Europe & America

Tea is also a popular luxury in Europe and the United States, and in the past there were even wars over its import and export.

In this article, I will explain the history of tea in Europe and the United States in detail, from the introduction of tea to modern tea consumption habits.

The history of Tea in Europe and the United States

Let's take a look at the history of tea in Europe and the US along a timeline.

The introduction of tea

Tea was first introduced to Europe from China in 1610, and it was the Dutch “East India Company” that brought it back.

Europe has an image of black tea, but it was not black tea that was first introduced but green tea.

However, when tea was first introduced, it was considered to be a luxury product that only the upper class enjoyed.

Tea was introduced to England from the Netherlands, and created a big boom among the aristocracy.

Expansion and Decline of the East India Company

The Dutch East India Company had an exclusive trade with the rest of Europe, including monopolizing trade with Southeast Asia, China, Japan.

Therefore in Europe at that time, products from East and Southeast Asia such as tea could only be obtained through the Netherlands.

The East India Company, which monopolized trade, seemed to be making a lot of profit, but it gradually lost its momentum due to internal improprieties and the war against the UK over tea.

In the 18th century, the power of the UK became even stronger and the Netherlands had no choice but to dissolve the East India Company.

The Opium War and the beginning of the plantation

Tea from the Netherlands became very popular in the UK in the 18 and 19th centuries.

The UK, which became the largest tea consumer in Europe, would import large quantities of tea from China.

At that time, the UK was paying for silver in exchange for tea, but the trade imbalance gradually increased and the inflow of silver from the UK became very large.

The UK was dissatisfied with this and decided to sell opium to China as a countermeasure.

As a result, opium was widespread in China, and the country was in trouble.

The Chinese dynasty set out to ban opium imports and crack down on smuggling, but the UK countered by force.

This was the famous “Opium War”.

In the end, Britain won the war and would demand from China the price of the opium it had confiscated and a large amount of reparations.

The beginning of the plantation

At first the UK relied on Chinese exports for most of its tea it consumed, but in the 1830s it began growing tea in its colony, India.

The reason for this was the discovery of tea trees in the Assam region of India.

By the way, the name of Assam tea which is a cultivar of black tea that is popular even today, comes from this Indian name.

As a result, high-quality tea has been cultivated in India that it fetched the highest price at an auction held in London in 1839.

The Assam Corporation, the plantation-based tea production company was launched under the auspices of the British government.

In addition to the Assam region, plantations have been developed in a wide range of states, including Bihar and Bengal.

Especially, the tea grown in Darjeeling, West Bengal, is famous even today.

Modern tea consumption habits

Historically, tea has been so popular in Europe and the US that wars broke out over its import and export.

It's true that tea is still very popular today, and if you look at the top 10 consumption of tea in the world, you'll see that Western countries such as the UK and the US are also ranked.

Although tea was originally just a luxury item, in recent years there has been a trend to capture tea from a different angle.

For example, it is a hot topic that Gyokuro and Sencha (steeped green tea) are sold at Starbucks Coffee in the United States because of their health benefits.

As evidenced by the 6.5 fold increase in tea exports from Japan to the US from 2000 to 2014, the habit of consuming tea as a healthy food has taken root in many people.

As you can see, tea is a drink that transcends time and borders and continues to be loved around the world.