The year 1600 changed UK forever. The Dutch introduced the British to tea and the country fell in love with it. When the East India Company started its trade with rest of the world, they stumbled upon tea leaves in Japan. In 1650s, tea was imported to England and started appearing in coffee houses. Tea became even more popular due to King Charles II and his wife Catherine de Breganza, from Portugal. Tea drinking was widely popular amongst port nobility, and the port city of Bombay was part of Catherine’s dowry. This had a major impact on the development of the British Empire and the history of India.
The British started adding a dash of milk to the tea in the 17th and 18th century. The fine bone china crockery was always at a risk of cracking with the heat of the freshly brewed tea. This led to the adding of milk which reduced the temperature of the beverage and prevented the tea cups from breaking. They also did this to reduce the astringency of the black tea that they loved so much.
Soon, the British started their own tea ceremony of sorts - the afternoon tea. A novel concept, afternoon tea was introduced by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. Earlier, the British used to have two meals a day - breakfast and dinner. By late noon, the Duchess would feel low on energy. As a solution, she started having tea with a light snack in her personal boudoir during the afternoon. Soon, she started inviting her friends for the afternoon sessions and moved these sessions to the drawing room. Other hostesses started following the Duchess by holding their own Afternoon Tea parties. This craze broke out to the commoners and they started enjoying high teas in the evening. The name ‘high tea’ was given because of the height of the tables that the common people used.