Friday, 3 July 2015

A nice cup of TEA

“It is not, however, in the consumption of the United Kingdom alone, that a market would be found for its produce.  The whole Continent of Europe has lately adopted its use in a greater or less degree, and in many countries, such as Canada, the United States and the Barbary Coast, the consumption has become very considerable.”
This is a description of TEA conquering the world!
 From the “Copy of papers received from India relating to the measures adopted for introducing the cultivation of the tea plant within the British Possessions in India” some paragraphs jumped out at me whether for the language used in the correspendence or for the sense of history.  
The following were written by W H Macnaghten Secretary to the Governor of India in the Extract India Revenue Consultations 1 February 1834.

 ”it has been generally imagined that China was the only country where the tea plant would grow, or where it could be cultivated and manufactured.  Recent investigations have dissipated this delusion; for we shall find that the Burmese, the Japanese, and Brazilians, as well as the Chinese, have cultivated tea with success; and we may confidently state, that if in future we are not rendered independent of the Chinese, by producing tea from our own territories and colonies, it will be our own fault, and that we shall merit continuation of that insolence from the Chinese government…”
“The inhabitants of India have little or no occupation excepting that of agriculture; and the cultivation and preparation of tea would admirably accord with their sedentary and tranquil habits.  The skill of our manufacturers has not only totally superseded the introduction of muslins and cottons from India but the exportation of Manchester and Glasgow cottons and muslins to India has so deluged the Indian markets, that many thousands of the native weavers are ruined, and in the greatest distress.  Their economical habits also render labour extremely low in price.  Tea, like almost all other articles, is the produce of land and labour…the East India Company are much at a loss to provide some reasonable occupation for the natives, to promote peaceful habitats of industry amongst them.  It is also an object of great importance to the East India company to obtain facilities to bring home their territorial revenues, which at present they have imperfect means of doing; in many instances the loss in exchange has been dreadful”.
“we can scarcely doubt that, when the skill and science of the Europeans, aided by thermometers etc, shall once be applied to the cultivation and preparation of tea in favourable situations, the Chinese tea will soon be excelled in quality and flavour. “ 
A drawing of a tea plant.
Map of where tea could grow

To read the whole  paper it can be found in vol. VII of the House of Lords 1839, (paper 44).