Magazine
Latest Issue

Tea isn’t dead in Britain—it has just taken on a new life

If tea culture blooms again in this country, it will not be the tea we know—but something else entirely

By Jonathan Nunn  

Today it’s hard to imagine the idea of tea not being a British drink. But what is much easier to understand from our vantage point is the rising cultural power of east Asia. Photo: Jens Kalaene

It was that chronicler of the plague, Samuel Pepys, who was likely responsible for the first mention of tea in the English language. Writing in his diary in 1660, he recounts a business meeting where “afterwards I did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before.” Europe was then in the grips of Sinomania—tea was just the latest craze in a long line of Chinese exotica that fascinated the west. Out of the ports of Canton and Amoy flowed not just tea, but raw and woven silks, bright porcelain and decorated…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect