European Tea Culture

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The custom of drinking tea has inherently been identified as the representation of British culture in the modern-day. The popularity of this tradition among the British cannot be separated from the fact that tea had been commercialized by the East India Company in the 18th century. Tea had been transformed from its state of being a luxury good into a major commodity through the trade of the British Empire in Asia. Another significant commodity that had been exchanged along with tea in this trading system was opium. The strong interplay between tea and opium trade in Asia illustrated how the British built an empire in the region by asserting its influence gradually through trade. Therefore, I would analyze and trace the sequence of events associated…show more content…
Based on the creation myth, the consumption of tea has been practiced in China since 5000 years ago and thus the inception of tea had been accredited to China. Subsequently, the consumption and cultivation of tea spreaded within the region to Japan, Southeast Asia and South Asia through the ancient trade route and importation from the mainland China. It was only in the 16th century that tea had been introduced to the public in Europe through letters and journals written by the Portuguese who had obtained the trading rights with China and established a trading port in Macau. In 1610, the Dutch East India Company commenced the shipment of tea to Europe. This exotic good from the Orient then enticed the European community and gradually gained popularity among the elites. The interest shown by the British upper class society towards tea had motivated the British East India Company to instigate the importation of tea in 1669. The commencement of this tea trade marked an important milestone which drove British’s subsequent actions in asserting its control in…show more content…
They began their operation by setting up factories and trading ports within the region to ease the circulation of goods. In 1602, the British set up a trading post in Banten which became the center of exchange for goods from the Spice Islands. Nevertheless, the British trade in Banten encountered various contestations starting from other European rivals who had previously established their control there to the limited English goods that could be received for barter with the local merchants in Banten. With these disadvantages, the presence of British in Banten was under increasing pressure and threats, especially when the rivalries between the British East India Company (EIC) and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to gain trade monopoly in Banten culminated in wars. As involvement and sustenance of wars required a large amount of material and human resources, the benefits of trade in the Spice Islands were deemed to be undermined by all the expenditures and risks that had to be borne by the British. The British began to diminish its commercial activities in Banten to alleviate the tension between the two nations. Nevertheless, the British were then being forced to leave Banten completely with the continuous Dutch provocation and had to retreat to its Indian base which later became the focal point of its Asian trade. Since then,
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