A Spot of Tea

As most of you probably know, the English drink tea. Tea was introduced in England after 1650. I’m sure that most of us have read a historical in which the phrase “a dish” of tea is used rather than the more familiar “cup” of tea.  This site tells us that the first tea cups were Chinese in origin and were shallow saucers, and did not have handles. From the same site:

100 years after the introduction of tea in England, handles were not yet seen on tea cups, but English potters had introduced saucers to the bowls. The tea-drinkers thought the saucer was there to pour the tea into to cool it and then they would sip the tea from the saucer. Later the saucer was used to hold spillage and the use of the cup and saucer became the tradition used today with the addition of handles.

Britain Express has a good overview of the history of tea and coffee houses. Tea was taxed by 1676. A hundred years later, we know how that taxation thing worked for the British when they were across the pond. According to this site, the tax rose to 119% and guess what?!  Tea smuggling, that’s what. And guess what else! People put stuff that wasn’t tea in the tea. What’s that thing the French say about change and the same old thing?

Check out The United Kingdom Tea Council for their amazing History of Tea, including the The London Tea Auction
And there’s this from 1826:
My favorite tea ever is Lapsang Souchang. I love the smoky flavor. At work, however, I drink Lipton. It gets my day going.  What about you guys? Do you drink tea? What kind?  If you were a tea smuggler where would you hide your tea?

About carolyn

Carolyn Jewel was born on a moonless night. That darkness was seared into her soul and she became an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance. She has a very dusty car and a Master’s degree in English that proves useful at the oddest times. An avid fan of fine chocolate, finer heroines, Bollywood films, and heroism in all forms, she has two cats and a dog. Also a son. One of the cats is his.
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Ann Marie Gamble
11 years ago

I started drinking Irish Breakfast while writing an novel that takes place in Ireland. My absolute favorite was something called Yunnan Golden Tippy, which either got renamed (I can’t imagine!) or discontinued.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

I like coffee better for waking me up and I lean towards tea for coziness or when I have a cold. I am not very discriminating, I’ll drink just about anything. But I like Earl Gray and just about any green tea.

Interesting, my word verification is “mining”. I hope they get the rest of those men out safely!

Cara King
11 years ago

Ooh, I cannot abide Lapsang Souchong! Todd and I were once drinking our way through as many different teas as we could find, and he had to finish the whole box of Lapsang S because to me it tastes like burning tires.

I drink mostly bagged tea — Tetley’s “British Blend” by preference — and I use Earl Grey for writing, and lemon for variety, but pretty much any bagged black tea works for me. (With milk.)

And occasionally I go high-end, and buy a loose tea with lots of letters after the name. I’m currently working on a second-flush Assam which has lots of interesting flavors in it….


11 years ago

Yunnan Golden Tippy sounds wonderful! I like green tea, too. I used to be a major coffee drinker, but one day I added up how much I was spending on coffee and gave it up.

11 years ago

Oh! And once my brother brought me some Darjeeling he bought in India and it was fabulous!

For whatever reason, I tend to really like strongly flavored teas. I know a lot of people don’t like Lapsang Souchong for exactly the reason I like it; the very strong flavor. Oddly, quite often Earl Gray tastes like dish soap to me.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

I made the switch from coffee to tea almost completely a few months ago, except for some instant coffee in my breakfast diet shake.

I grew up drinking Lipton, but now prefer almost anything else. Lately I’ve been drinking Twinings Darjeeling (which I always want to call Deejarling, for some reason). I’ll bet it isn’t as good as the one you had from India, Carolyn.

English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast are great, too.

Cara, I didn’t used to like Earl Grey, but it is a nice change now, as is Lady Grey. I also like Camomile tea at night.

By the way, Japanese tea sets often don’t have handles on the cups. I have a set that we bought in Japan a brazillion years ago when I was little.

Megan Frampton
11 years ago

I drink tea, and like you, I like Lapsang Souchong. Dig that smoky taste, but can’t have it everyday.

Much to all’s chagrin, I drink Lipton, ’cause I drink a lot of tea in the afternoon, and I’m cheap.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Carolyn, I know what you mean about the “soapiness” of Earl Gray. When I first started drinking it the bergamot in it made me think of perfume. Jasmine green tea can be like that too but I still like it.

11 years ago

oooo love this post, super interesting to finall hear why it was called a dish! but now you’ve just reminded me how i so want to know where the phrase “not for all the tea in china” came from!

my favorite tea is jasmine green tea. delish.

i so wish there were more occaisions to drink tea more traditionally and properly these days. we registered for nice teacups and saucers for our wedding two years ago and have only used them twice 🙁

11 years ago

Twinings Irish Breakfast,made from loose tea when I have the time, is my favorite, but I do really like Lipton- which is a good thing because that’s what we have at work and there’s not time or equipment to brew anything else.

Several cups of tea a day at a minimum here- I really, really like my tea!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

I’m afraid I’m a tea addict! 🙂 Mostly green tea when I’m at home, but I like almost anything except berry-flavored stuff. A local tea room has a tea called Russian Caravan that is very much like Lapsang, I love it especially when the weather gets cooler like now…

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

I am a teetotaler in that I never drink coffee (with the exception of any time I am in New Orleans. I drink chickory coffee there.)

I have been a hot tea drinker since I was nine which is considered something of a sacrilege here in the Deep South.

For iced tea I prefer Milo’s. There are Milo’s hamburger stands all over the South and their tea became so famous and so preferred it is now sold by the gallon in grocery stores. I go through gallons of it so long as the weather is warm.

However, my morning wake up is a cup of Earl Grey (dish soap indeed!)with milk and two sugars. I do like English and Irish breakfast and have recently tried Lady Grey as well.

Because people know I drink tea I often receive gifts of different teas and I do like to try them.

I prefer my tea loose and use a tea ball unless I am in a hurry. Then I have the handy tea bags.

I collect English bone china teacups, something I started with my first contest final in the Royal Ascot four years ago. I have a different cup and pattern for each of my contest finals. Some of these tea cups are real works of art.

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

I’m a Pu Erh girl. Love it. Deep and smokey. Almost dirty. Just the best cuppa around.

Jane George
11 years ago

P.G. Tips! I’m a total addict, along with java and the occasional Diet Coke blowout.
But if my tummy is acting up (see all the above) it’s green tea, not too strong, with honey.

11 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 years ago

I am a tea drinker living in a country of coffee drinkers. I think I took my first sip at round age six (more milk than tea), and I have been hooked ever since.

I like black teas but not green (when it doesn’t taste like grass, it tastes like soap). Depending on the time of day and the occasion, I may go for an English or Irish Breakfast blend (brewed strong, with milk and sugar), a mild Darjeeling (with a little bit of sugar or honey), or a nice Oolong, but I will try any variety as long as it isn’t flavoured.

The only flavoured tea I really like is Earl Grey, but I will sometimes put a few drops of lemon juice in my Darjeeling. Oddly enough, given my aversion to flavoured teas, I love chai, as long as there isn’t cinnamon in it, but it has to be made from scratch.

I also collect tea tins.

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

I love tea. I am a total tea pig. My drug of choice is Yorkshire Gold but Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast is also good, but for normal use I use a Brooke Bond loose tea from an Asian grocery since I prefer loose tea to teabags.

Lapsang Souchong mixed with Assam is fabulous, btw.

Did you know that tea is very good for cleaning laminate or wood floors? Guess how I found this out.

11 years ago

I drink many types of tea. It really depends what type of mood I am in.
If I were a smuggler, I would hide long bags of it rolled up in bolts of fabric.

11 years ago

I am now compiling a list of teas to try.

There’s a tea room in my town that has all kinds of tea. I go in and wander around because they have so many pretty cups and the like.

Janet: making a note of your floor cleaning remedy…