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A Social History of Tea


Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson have chronicled tea’s influence on western commerce, culture & community over the past 400 years. You’ll discover the colorful stories behind the rise of tea in literature, politics, fashion, and etiquette. Autographed!

This item will ship on or before December 15, 2020

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This item will ship on or before December 15, 2020

British writer and tea historian Jane Pettigrew has joined forces again with American tea writer Bruce Richardson to chronicle the fascinating story of tea’s influence on British and American culture, commerce and community spanning nearly four centuries. These two leading tea professionals have seen first-hand the current tea renaissance sweeping modern culture and have written over two dozen books on the subject of tea, including their best-selling New Tea Companion.

No beverage has shaped Western civilization more than the ancient Asian elixir – tea. For nearly four centuries, tea has occupied a remarkable position in British and American society. From its earliest introduction into London society in the mid-1600s, tea was an exotic commodity, commanding high prices and enjoyed only by a fortunate few. Ladies first drank tea at home, while men enjoyed the beverage alongside coffee and chocolate in coffee houses. As the custom of drinking tea came to dictate the daily schedules of upper-class families in London and Philadelphia, international traders scurried to keep up with the resulting demand for sugar, furniture, silver, porcelains, and fabrics to fill drawing rooms on both sides of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, profits from the East India Company’s monopoly on tea trade with China subsidized Parliament and sparked a revolution in Boston in 1773. 

In the nineteenth century, writers such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Lewis Carroll found teatime to be the perfect tool for setting a scene within their novels. As the century ended, tea rooms began to open, enabling respectable women to eat out unaccompanied.

The twentieth century saw tea drinkers tango their way across the dance floors of fine hotels as fashion designers introduced new tea gowns every season. By the 1920s, the tearoom craze spread to America, allowing women to become business owners and entrepreneurs. But cheap teabags and mechanization nearly drained tea of its romance, and the beverage lost its allure after World War II.

Fortunately, tea made a comeback as a new century began, and now the world’s most popular beverage is enjoying a much-deserved renaissance as tea bars, tea shops, and tearooms spring up throughout Great Britain and the United States. Tea has reclaimed its reputation as an important ingredient leading to good health and a balanced lifestyle. As tea drinking becomes a ritual for many, tea has returned to its ancient Asian roots as the cup of humanity.


First Tea in England * East India Company * America’s Thirst for Tea * Tea Jars & Caddies

Teas for Sale * Tea Smuggling * Tea Etiquette * Liberty Tea * Boston Tea Party

An Empire Built on Tea * Jane Austen’s Tea Things * Afternoon Tea * Glasgow Tea Movement * Tea & Suffrage

Teabags * The Tea Room  Movement * Wartime Tea * Rise of American Tea Brands * Tea Dances *  Specialty Tea

The American Teasmith * Tea & Health * The Starbucks Effect * Culinary Tea


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