One of the first facts I learnt as a kid was that the English, despite making a personality out of tea, aren’t even the biggest drinkers of it (apparently, in 2016, Turkey ranked #1 in the most tea consumed per capita; the UK was third behind Ireland). But where did the obsession even come from? Portugal via China bringing it over, initially:
“[…] while it’s fairly common knowledge that Westerners have China to thank for the original cultivation of the tannic brew, it’s far less known that it was the Portuguese who inspired its popularity in England – in particular, one Portuguese woman. Think about that next time you’re sipping steaming oolong from delicate mugs at the Ritz, or standing under the portrait of Earl Grey in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Travel back in time to 1662, when Catherine of Braganza (daughter of Portugal’s King John IV) won the hand of England’s newly restored monarch, King Charles II, with the help of a very large dowry that included money, spices, treasures and the lucrative ports of Tangiers and Bombay. This hookup made her one very important lady: the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.
When she relocated up north to join King Charles, she is said to have packed loose-leaf tea as part of her personal belongings; it would also have likely been part of her dowry. A fun legend has it that the crates were marked Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas (Transport of Aromatic Herbs) – later abbreviated to T.E.A.
That last bit probably isn’t true (etymologists believe the word ‘tea’ came from a transliteration of a Chinese character), but what is for sure is that tea was already popular among the aristocracy of Portugal due to the country’s direct trade line to China via its colony in Macau, first settled in the mid-1500s (visit today to sample the other end of this culinary exchange, the Portuguese pastéis de nata, aka egg custard tarts).”via BBC
Seriously, pastéis de nata são tão bons! And have one with a cup of tea.
(via my partner, Shelley)