The unexpected reason why tea is popular in England

Tea is to England what beer and hot dogs are to America. But as ingrained as tea is in the fabric of British culture, it takes a history lesson to explain how the drink actually became so popular. Hint: It had nothing to do with the British. 

While most people know that China is responsible for tea's popularity in the West, few know that when it comes to England, it was actually a Portuguese woman who began the craze that would one day define a culture, according to BBC.

9 PHOTOS
Herbal tea
See Gallery
Herbal tea
A man prepares mate (a type of herbal tea) at the Museo de la Ciudad in Buenos Aires July 20, 2010. Organizers from the museum invited members of the public to an open tasting day and a tour to view a collection of traditional mate gourds used in preparation of the beverage. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian (ARGENTINA - Tags: FOOD SOCIETY)
TORONTO, ON- FEBRUARY 7 - Ingredients for blending your own tea include lavender, rose leaves, orange, camomile, star anise and turmeric. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Herb tea made of dried herb of the medicinal plant Lindley eupatorium, Pei Lan, Eupatorium fortunei. (Photo by: Bildagentur-online/UIG via Getty Images)
Medicinal tea made of the dried roots of the medicinal plant Bletilla, chinese ground orchid, common bletilla, hyacinth orchid, Bletilla stricata, Bai Ji. (Photo by: Bildagentur-online/UIG via Getty Images)
Medicinal tea made of Knotgrass, Knotgrasstea, Polygonum aviculare. (Photo by: Bildagentur-online/UIG via Getty Images)
Herbalist's shop: plants with medicinal properties (phytotherapy) for sale. Herbology practitioner making herbal tea with natural plants. (Photo by: Andia/UIG via Getty Images)
Herbal tea made from sage in glass cup standing on books, nearby lies a bundle of sage over dark wooden background. Retro toned.
Dried herbal tea with rosehip, mint, linden, cranberries, blueberries, thyme, raspberry leaves
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In 1662, Catherine of Braganza (the king of Portugal's daughter) was betrothed to Charles II (the monarch of England), making her the queen of England, Scotland AND Ireland (girl power). As was customary in that time, Catherine's hand in marriage was accompanied by a large dowry, which (besides her fortune) included—you guessed it—loose-leaf tea from the illustrious cities of Tangier and Bombay. After all, tea was already popular among the aristocracy in Portugal due to its direct trade route with China.

 At the time of Catherine's arrival in England, tea was used only for medicinal purposes—but that didn't stop the queen from continuing her crusade. Much like we are with celebrities today, people sought to be like her royal self, copying her fashion and, of course, her tea-drinking habits.

Eventually, tea drinking became so popular in England that now it's hard to imagine British people doing anything other than politely enjoying their Earl Grey. So, you have Portugal to thank the next time you find yourself in London ending the night with a calming chamomile.

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

Search Recipes