As with coffee, tea began to take on symbolic meaning in the instant that it became a European beverage (it was symbolic long before that in Eastern cultures, but Standage touches on this very little). The British fondness for tea is world-famous, and in Six Glasses, tea can be said to symbolize not only Britain but the British Empire as well. Indeed, the Empire fought more than one war with the goal of ensuring the flow of tea from its colonies into Britain. Even today, tea is most popular in countries that were once colonies of the British Empire—a reminder of the strong cultural and symbolic association between the beverage and the nation that consumed it.
A History of the World in Six Glasses
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Tea appears in A History of the World in Six Glasses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Vital Fluids
...understand important things about human culture. He singles out six drinks: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. Each one was “the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.” (full context)
Chapter 9: Empires of Tea
Chapter 10: Tea Power
...mills where workers controlled spinning frames as they produced clothing. Arkwright gave his workers regular tea breaks. Tea, he found, was a sensible drink, because it was sterile (water had to... (full context)
...one of the most powerful organizations in the world. This company was responsible for obtaining tea supplies from around the world, colonizing entire countries to do so. The company’s influence was... (full context)
...1780s, the British East India Company was in good shape, largely because new sources of tea resulted in lower tea prices throughout the British Empire. These low prices made tea smuggling... (full context)
...that Britain should have a balance of trade with China because it purchased so much tea from China. As a result, opium quickly became the commodity that Britain exchanged with China... (full context)