A Nation of Tea Drinkers: British Culture and the Global Tea Trade

Essential information

Event type: 
Date and time: 
21 May | 5.15pm - 6.30pm
Talks & courses

Join us for a free talk in central London on the history of British tea drinking with Professor Markman Ellis. All are welcome and there is no need to book. 

During the eighteenth-century, tea went from being an expensive, exotic luxury to an everyday item consumed everywhere in Britain, from the palace to the cottage. Join Professor Markman Ellis as he explores this fascinating, world-changing commodity. How did the British become known as a nation of tea drinkers, in a period when all tea was imported half way round the world from China? How did the consumption of tea become a ‘performance’ in fashionable society, with its own rituals and ceremonies?

This free talk will explore the history of tea and the performance of its consumption at the Georgian tea-table. Professor Ellis will examine tea as a commodity, an event and an idea by looking at poems, essays, satires and paintings from the early 1700s. These highlight the event of tea-drinking, its context in the global trade of the East India Company and its construction among high-status women.

Maritime History & Culture Seminars 2018/19:

All seminars start at 5.15pm in Wolfson Room I, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London, WC1E 7HU.