Unloading tea ships in the East India docks
Tea was first brought from China to Britain in the 1670s as a medicinal herb, and was slow to become a popular drink. It was only when it was sweetened with sugar that it began to appeal to British taste. It became so popular that by 1794 Britain was buying nine million pounds each year. Tea required careful handling on board ship. It had to be kept dry and away from strong smells. Porcelain, textiles and furniture began to be imported into England simply to pack around the valuable cargo of tea.
From the 'Illustrated London News', 26 October 1867.
- Image reference: H3863
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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