• Nina Jarrett

An Empire of Tea

The exotic beverage beloved by Britain since the mid-1600s, it was so integral in the Georgian reign that it literally sparked a revolution. The very catalyst that birthed a super power!

So expensive during the Regency that if one factored in inflation, and average wages of the period, then during that time the Greenwich Hospital was paying about $256 for a pound of tea by today's standards.

 

“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.” - Jane Austen

 

In order to reduce the cost of drinking tea, there were solutions ranging from smuggling to the drying and reuse of tea leaves, as well as mixing it with other leaves.

In 1785, Richard Twining saw a marked increase in his tea sales after he published details on tea adulteration using ash leaves in his pamphlet Observations on the Tea & Window Act and on the Tea Trade. Perhaps the same Tea Act that prompted a certain tea party to be held in the Boston Harbor 12 years earlier? If you know the answer to that, let me know :)

 

Fun fact: Twinings boast the world's oldest logo in continual use since 1706.


 

The popularity of Twinings is why in the year 1818, Annabel is usually to be found drinking their tea in The Duke Wins a Bride. When I was growing up, my father considered it to be the finest quality available, and it made me feel connected to him to include the brand in her story.


In the Rowlandson print below a party of sailors in a cabin are preparing an alluring young creature to 'run the gauntlet' of the Custom-house officers, or rather to go on shore, with as full a cargo of excisable articles as they can secure round her person. Huge pockets of 'old Japan china, tea, gum,' etc. are tied around her waist.


One assumes she is intending to don the garment and bonnet depicted on the right.