Empire in a Cup: A Historic London Tea Tour

Guide: Lisa Honan CBE

The links between the great British cup of tea and Britain’s Empire are intricate, complex, and far-reaching, even up until today. Join the UKTA and Lisa Honan for a walking tour of the City of London’s streets, to discover the story of tea.

Saturday 27th April 1pm, in-person
Tickets: £25

Lisa Honan CBE, a qualified City of London guide, will take you to see where tea was first served in London and will explain how, from those small beginnings, the thirst for the tea and its profits turned tea into a national and global obsession which shaped the Empire.

You will see where tea auctions were held, where tea was stored, and where well-known brands eg. Tetley, Brooke Bond etc. operated from. You’ll hear about tea clipper races, and how one of the most notable examples of corporate espionage led to India becoming the tea growing nation that it is today. As you walk through the City you’ll see where the East India Company operated its tea trade. You’ll hear how tea drove them to become drug smugglers as well as, unknowingly, the catalyst for the American War of Independence.

The history of tea is hidden amongst the City streets and alleyways, unless you know where to find it. Lisa will uncover it with you and will also take you on a fascinating journey through time.


About Lisa

After a career in development, living, working and travelling overseas, Lisa decided to qualify as a City of London guide. She is fascinated by London’s Square Mile, its history, but in particular, how the City’s history shaped Britain’s Empire and vice versa. She spent over a year researching her first walking tour, which is about the history of the East India Company, an interest which comes from holding the role of Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha between 2016 – 2019. She was the first (and so far only) woman to hold this post in five hundred years of history. For nearly two hundred years, St Helena was run by the East India Company. Today it remains a British Overseas territory.

The second walking tour she has developed is about the history of tea and its links to the City and to Empire. At a time when a more holistic view of Britain’s Empire is increasingly gaining attention, Lisa was keen to uncover the role that tea played in that story.


Walk Information

The walking tour takes 2 hours with about 45 minutes of this walking from one stop to the next. We start at the steps of the Royal Exchange and finish at St Katherine dock near the Tower of London. The terrain is mostly flat.

Price (Includes VAT)

  • £25 per person

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