How did tea drinking become so popular in England? Believe it or not, Portugal was probably most responsible. In 1662, when Charles II married a member of the Portuguese royal family, Catherine of Braganza, she brought tea with her as part of her dowry, and tea then became the official court beverage in the 1660’s. At that time, tea was scarce, expensive and highly taxed – a rare luxury good that only the aristocracy and upper classes could afford.
The powerful East India Trading Company began providing King Charles II with small gifts of tea from China for Catherine in order to curry his favor and perhaps win special rights and privileges for the company, which may have included a near monopoly on tea imported from China. Continue reading