How did an ancient Asian tradition become something quintessentially British? The fashion for Tea drinking in Great Britain started at court in the later seventeenth century and spread among the aristocracy. Tea remained a heavily taxed luxury until a century later, 1n 1784, when tea duties were slashed from 119 to 12.5 percent, making it affordable to the general public.
In the eighteenth century, the rise of the East India Company — founded to trade with India, Southeast Asia, and China — led to a British monopoly on tea distribution. This global grip established the nation’s mercantile empire, critically dependent on colonial occupation and the movement of slaves. In 1771, American colonists famously protested Britain’s commercial control, dumping imported tea into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.
Ambitious British pottery manufacturers and retailers leveraged tea’s popularity to their advantage, cultivating an enormous national ceramics industry. Vastly expanded production yielded new wares, materials and consumers. Profit margins on ceramics were slim, so quality mattered, as did efficiency. Resources and skills were often shared, as innovative makers sprung up and sometimes quickly failed. These developments signaled a shift — creative and economic — toward mass manufacture in a remarkably nimble market, generating a booming export industry for Britain as a result
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The summer heat has arrived, and that means cooling off with refreshing summer beverages! When I was a kid growing up in southern California, my Mom didn’t keep soda the house. Instead, she made sure that there was always a fresh pitcher of iced tea (with plenty of lemon and sugar) chilling in our refrigerator. This enduring childhood memory is likely a good reason why iced tea remains my go-to summertime beverage when I really need to quench my thirst. The great news for iced tea lovers is that there are so many grab-and-go ways to enjoy iced teas that not only taste great, but are also good for you. Recently, I learned about the health benefits of something called Purple Tea, available in a brand called Kabaki. Representatives sent me a case of Kabaki Kenyan Purple Tea to review for the blog, and now I’d like to share my finding with you.
First off what the heck is Purple Tea? What I learned is that Purple Tea grows high in the valleys and mountain tops of Kenya, and is sourced from the same single plant, Camellia Sinensis, that produces green and black teas. The intense African sun, coupled with cool mountain air, allows ultraviolet rays to deeply penetrate the tea leaves, which have a purple color because they contain super-antioxidants called anthocyanins. This is the same antioxidant found in ‘superfoods’ like Acai berries, Pomegranates and Blueberries.
This week we break from tradition a bit by, rather than featuring a new video clip, reaching back into the archives for a clip from Christmas 2007, from the late, great UK band, Kula Shaker. We discovered the fantastic clip, “Drink Tea (For the Love of God)” while effing around with friends on You Tube at 3 O’clock in the morning a few Saturdays ago. This anthemic song brings a pro-brewed tea drinking message to Monty Python-esque animation, and Kula Shaker’s signature psychedelic rock feel. Enjoy! And have some tea!