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234 × 156 mm
328 pages
77 illustrations, 14 in colour
14 May 2018

Empire of Tea The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World Markman Ellis, Richard Coulton, Matthew Mauger

Tea has a rich and well-documented past. The beverage 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. 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.

The delicate flavour profile and hot preparation of tea inspired poets, artists and satirists. Tea was embroiled in controversy, from the gossip of the domestic tea table to the civil disorder occasioned by smuggling and the political scandal of the Boston Tea Party. Based on extensive original research, and now available in paperback, Empire of Tea provides a rich cultural history that explores how the British ‘way of tea’ became the norm across the Anglophone world.

 ‘A stimulating and attractively illustrated history’ – History Today

‘For those tempted to begin the tale of British tea-drinking with the Opium Wars, or with the establishment of Indian tea plantations, this book offers a richly textured history of the “empire” that preceded, and long outgrew, those events.’ – Times Literary Supplement.

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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.

1 Early European Encounters with Tea
2 Establishing the Taste for Tea in Britain
3 The Tea Trade with China
4 The Elevation of Tea
5 The Natural Philosophy of Tea
7 The British Way of Tea
8 Smuggling and Taxation
9 The Democratization of Tea Drinking
11 The National Drink of Victorian Britain
12 Twentieth-century Tea
Epilogue: Global Tea

Photo Acknowledgements