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Tea Types

Types of tea in Georgian England

During the 18th century and through most of the Regency, tea was an evening drink, not an afternoon drink. It was not until the late 1830s that we see the shift to afternoon tea.

What type of tea did our Georgian heroes and heroines drink? There was no such thing as an English tea, not yet. While tea was imported from India via the East India Trading Company, tea originated in China and Japan, the most popular among the English being from China. We hark back to that date of the 1830s when we see production of tea begin in India and Ceylon, which then changed the popular tea choices.

The tea of choice during the Georgian era was green tea and black tea. Of the green teas available, hyson was the most expensive and of the highest quality, while of the black teas, bohea was the least expensive and of the lowest quality. In the drawing rooms, we would likely see our heroes and heroines drinking hyson, but in the cottages, we would see them drinking bohea.

Fun Facts:

  • Tea leaves were reused many times to make the most of this rare, expensive, and imported luxury

  • Tea was kept locked away, the lady of the house keeping the key rather than a servant, and the tea caddy itself would be brought into the drawing room for the lady to unlock before the guests

  • The lady of the house always played mother by preparing the tea in front of the guests—tea was never, ever prepared by a servant or brought in ready to drink

  • Evening tea was popular with both genders, far and above alcoholic choices or coffee

  • There were no teabags, only loose leaf

  • The East India Company placed its first order for tea in 1664, but tea was not popularised until early 18th century, primarily due to Thomas Twinings turning his coffeehouse into a teashop: The Golden Lyon Tea.

To get to know Georgian teas further, check out these resources:

Bianca White Writes' Georgian Tea Parties

Canton Tea: Teas of the Eighteenth Century: English Tea Trade

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