Tea smuggling?

Learn about the history of tea

It wasn't until a great many years later, since the Chinese Emperor discovered tea, that such leafs first arrived on the shores of England.  However, when they did finally arrive, they were here to stay.  After it's rapid rise in popularity and demand on the continent it was properly introduced to the English population to the extent where it became popular in the mid 1600's by a Portuguese Princess; Catherine of Braganza.   Betrothed to King Charles II and after having developed a deep affection for tea back home; she couldn't stand the thought of life away from home, in distant lands, without such a comfort.  Little did she know of the chain of events she were about to set in motion and how much of a fundamental change in the way the whole world looked upon the people of England, that she would eventually cause.


After her arrival in England it seemed that everything she said, did, wore and spent her time doing became a fashion; almost a craze.  It was as a result of this mania that tea drinking became such a huge trend in the Royal Court; which soon after led to widespread popularity with the masses.  So great became the popularity of tea drinking, the English people soon developed their very own tea ceremony; Afternoon tea.   From here the wider spread population diverted from the alehouses and taverns by the masses and flocked to new tea houses, began buying and commissioning the making of their very own tea chests or tea caddies; that would accompany their owners even on the simplest of journeys for fear of their being stolen; such was the popularity and consequent value of tea.


In fact, tea soon became so popular that after losing so much money from tax revenue on Ale houses and Taverns as a result of their abandonment for this new luxurious indulgence that the government felt it had no choice but to impose a tax on tea and all importations of it.  With the new tax's rate being one of 119%; tea overnight became unaffordable to almost all.   This caused outrage; outrage and blind fury.   However what the government never banked on or maybe just failed to consider was the will of the people and also the will and ways of unscrupulous criminals.  Almost immediately after the tax's imposition there emerged a new criminal enterprise; smuggling. Tea began to be smuggled in to the country through anywhere it could slip past the watchmen.  A black market emerged, sometimes violent and cutthroat, where the stakes were high for players; and everyone was playing.

Contact us

Our normal opening hours are:


Monday to Friday 11am – 4pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm
Sunday 11am – 2pm


The Haggerston Tearoom

224 Haggerston Road
Hackney, London E8 4HT

 Tel: +442072492213

 E-mail: manager@haggerston-tearoom.org.uk


Latitude 16/07 to 22/07
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