William Cobbett, round about 1821, wrote:

The drink, which has come to supply the place of beer has, in general, been tea. It is notorious, that tea has no useful strength in it; that it contains nothing nutricious; that it, besides being good for nothing, has badness in it, because it is well known to produce want of sleep in many cases, and in all cases to shake and weaken the nerves.

Okay, so far, I slightly agree with Cobbett. Lack of sleep — yeah, if you drink more than you’re used to, or you drink late in the day, it can cause insomnia! But “shake and weaken the nerves”?

Cobbett continues:

It is, in fact, a weaker kind of laudanum, which enlivens for a moment and deadens afterwards.

Laudanum, which is opium dissolved in alcohol, being compared to tea??? Dude, what have YOU been drinking???

It is impossible to make a fire, boil water, make the tea, drink it, wash up the things, sweep up the fire-place and put all to rights again in a less space of time, upon an average, than two hours. . . . Needs there any thing more to make us cease to wonder at seeing labourers’ children with dirty linen and holes in the heels of their stockings?

There you have it, kiddies! The poor are wretched not for any of the commonly held reasons (e.g. because they are poor, or because they are lazy, or because no one who labours in the fields from dawn to dusk has time or energy to darn stockings) but because they drink too much TEA!!!!

You heard it here first.

Cara King, Tea Drinker Extraordinaire
for more weird period details, see www.caraking.com