Empire of Tea

The history of tea features in a new exhibition over the summer, inspired by Markman Ellis, Richard Coulton and Matthew Mauger's co-authored book Empire of Tea.

'A Tea Journey: From the mountains to the table', which opens this month at Compton Verney, explores the cultural significance of the nation's favourite beverage, and indeed world's most popular drink. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to follow the tea leaf from plant to pot, from its humble origins in China, through to its adoption into British society. There will be input from contemporary artists including Adam Buick, Charlotte Hodes and Phoebe Cummings.

The exhibition, curated by Antonia Harrison and overseen by author Markman Ellis, will run from 6th July until 22nd September 2019. For more information and ticket availablity visit the Compton Verney website.

Essential information
Date: 6th July 2019 – 22nd September 2019
Venue: Compton Verney Gallery, Compton Verney, Warwick, CV35 9HZ.
To find out more, please go to the Compton Verney website.

About the book
Based on extensive original research, and now available in paperback, Empire of Tea provides a rich cultural history that examines how the British ‘way of tea’ became the norm across the Anglophone world. Now the world’s most popular drink, tea was one of the first truly global products to find a mass market, with tea drinking now stereotypically associated with British identity.

Tea, which has a well-documented past, originated in Asia long before making its way to seventeenth-century London, where it became an exotic, highly sought-after commodity. Over the subsequent two centuries, tea’s powerful psychoactive properties seduced British society, becoming popular across the nation from castle to cottage.

About the authors
Markman Ellis is Professor of Eighteenth-century Studies at Queen Mary, University of London.

Richard Coulton is a lecturer in the Department of English, Queen Mary, University of London.

Matthew Mauger is a lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London.