history tea drinking



This masterclass will look in detail at the arrival of tea into Europe and England in the 17th century and how tea was at first a very expensive luxury beverage drunk by the royal family, the aristocracy, and other wealthy members of society, but gradually spread down through the poorer classes to become Britain’s national drink.

We will cover the following topics:

How Britain became a Nation of Tea Drinkers

  • The first tea into Europe
  • The first tea into London
  • The East India Company
  • The beginning of the English Tea Ceremony
  • Who drank what; how, when and where tea was drunk in the 17th century
  • The increase of tea drinking in the 18th century
  • Smuggling and adulterated tea
  • Tea and Politics in the 18th century (taxes in the UK and the American colonies)
  • How, where and when tea was drunk in the 18th century
  • Tea and Temperance
  • Britain grows its own tea in the 19th century
  • The development of Afternoon Tea; when and why that happened
  • Tea Parties for all occasions
  • Tea gowns and dancing at tea-time
  • Temperance, tearooms and Women’s Suffrage in the 19th century
  • 20th century tea drinking in Britain


Afternoon Tea and its etiquette

  • What is Afternoon Tea
  • How to organise an afternoon tea event
  • Tablecloths and napkins
  • Cups, saucers and plates
  • Spoons, knives and pastry forks
  • The three tier cake stand
  • The food: sandwiches, scones, pastries
  • Optional food extras How to set the table/how not to set the table
  • The tea
  • Milk, sugar and lemon?
  • Behaviour before, during and afterwards

Just for fun (and for a little light refreshment), we will practise eating sandwiches, scones and pastries!