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.
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.
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