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In the 18th century, tea became Britain's most fashionable drink
Taking tea was an important social occasion in polite society
Tea was served at concerts...
and evening balls...
as well as in drawing rooms
Serving tea was an elaborate affair
Tea was a luxury item kept under lock and key
There were different varieties of green and black tea
Because it was costly, only a little tea was used
The maid brought hot water
The hostess then served the tea
To counter the bitter taste, Europeans added milk and sugar
The 18th century had strict rules of etiquette for tea drinking
The tea cup was to be held daintily
Drinking from the saucer and making noise was the height of bad manners
The saucer was used for catching drips...
...but it was not polite to pour them back
Leftover tea leaves were put in the slop basin
You indicated you had drunk enough by putting your spoon in the cup
...or turning the cup upside down
Though it started with the genteel classes, tea gradually eclipsed gin and beer...
to become Britain's national drink
V&A Curator Joanna Norman discusses the ongoing V&A/BBC4 television series Handmade in Britain.
This evocatively illustrated book tells the story of tea around the world, and celebrates its contribution, past and present, to civilized existence. …
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