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English Tea History – Part I

November 16, 2007


It starts with a romantic story which explains how tea first got to England.  A foreign princess, Catherine of Braganza, who had grown up in the royal Portuguese court where tea was quite popular, was a major force how in how it became fashionable even though the queen-consort of Charles II of England wasn’t actually the first to bring tea to Britain.

In 1660 when Charles II was restored to the throne of England, he inherited many debts from the government of Oliver Cromwell and also made a few debts of his own. He found himself in need of fast money in order to protect his throne. A typical solution was to marry a wealthy foreign princess  with a large dowry. He negotiated with King John IV of Portugal and a deal was made that he would marry Catherine of Braganza. Catherine’s dowry included several ships of precious goods and among them was a chest of tea, the favored drink of the Portuguese court.

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