Tea culture and the British Empire, 1600-1900
1 online resource (112 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
At the end of the fifteenth century, the consumption of tea remained predominantly in the East, and only a few wealthy western aristocrats knew of the tea plant. Only one hundred years later, tea sparked the interests of many nations and consumption rose in large quantities worldwide. Great Britain became one of the first western nations to import tea in large quantities. By mid- seventeenth century, Great Britain also led the world in the consumption of goods in many forms. Many consumer goods coming out of the British Empire drove the early consumer revolution, where some items became so important to the British that a culture surrounding the commodities began to appear in the ways people consumed the goods. By the Industrial Revolution, the masses in Great Britain began consuming certain goods for the popularity and desire of it. No longer did the consumer solely focus on whether the object of desire was appropriate or good, but an attention to the popularity of the object played a major part in the actual consumption. The British consumption of tea is a striking example of the ability of the consumer revolution to completely transform a good from an object to a cultural pastime. For the upper class, social status and power were inseparable and tea culture provided a means for which to determine social distinction. Witnessing this practice, the lower classes adapted tea drinking, but made it into an extremely important part of their day. Tea was, and continues to be, one of the most popular imperial goods the British would ever encounter. This paper describes the cultural consumption of tea by the British upper and lower classes, and how they each made it their own.
Thorsheim, PeterPrasad, Ritika
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2014.
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