I wrote this piece as a magazine filler, but it went unpublished, so here it is. i don’t think it is so bad!
Each year we drink about 150,000 tonnes of tea. Quite a lot of tea you might think, and it is. Roughly 5% of the world’s total production.
Back in 1955 however, the populations of the UK and Ireland managed to drink their way through a staggering one-third of all the tea produced in the world! No wonder that tea drinking is regarded as something of a national pastime!
It hadn’t always been so, however. From the introduction of tea to the UK in 1633 to near the end of the 18th century, tea was only drunk sparingly by the nobility due to its cost. They would even save the tea leaves to reuse them! Not surprising when the government tax on tea was a hefty 119%! This meant that a pound of tea would cost you roughly the same as a third of a skilled workers wage. A huge black market in smuggled tea developed as a consequence, which only came to an end when the government lowered the tea tax to 12.5% in 1784.
So next time you pop into a café for a cup of tea be thankful that you are not handing over a large chunk of your wages for the pleasure!