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Because of what the tea wars and other little-known facts about the most comfortable drink were fought
Because of what the tea wars and other little-known facts about the most comfortable drink were fought

Just a couple of centuries ago, money, power and tea had a truly blood relationship with each other. There are many examples in history of what efforts it sometimes cost people to simply have a quiet drink as a result. Quite often, tea ended up where a new state was born, or there was an attempt to pull the country out of a crisis, there was a war, or a large-scale drug trade was carried out. Moreover, the "cozy drink" played an important role in all these events.

How the USA appeared because of tea

The British colonists in North America, like the inhabitants of the kingdom itself, had a weakness for tea. This drink was popular in all walks of life. And when the time came for a forced serious struggle for only one right to free tea - the inhabitants of the British colonies on the American continent rallied together.

Tea was the most popular drink among the British colonists of America

From the end of the 17th century, the East India Company was the monopoly that led absolutely all the supply of tea to Britain. The influence of the cartel was so great that beginning in 1721, the authorities of the kingdom prohibited the colonies from purchasing tea from anyone other than British suppliers. However, their tea was subject to a 25 percent tax. This circumstance forced British consumers of the "cozy drink" to buy cheaper smuggled goods from foreign traders.

This situation led to the fact that the British East India Company lost enormous profits. To rectify the state of affairs in 1767, the English parliament decided very cunningly to start a fight against tea smuggling. For this, in Britain itself, the tax on tea was reduced, but at the same time new duties were invented for the colonists. Including the drink, beloved by all Englishmen.

American tea culture

Naturally, this move did not like the "Americans" who, not having their own parliamentarians in London, expressed a desire for broad self-government through their colonial assemblies. The central government made some concessions, but remained adamant on the tea issue. And the Americans, in turn, continued to buy cheaper tea from smugglers.

This continued until 1773, when the so-called "Tea Law" was adopted, according to which the East India Company could sell tea in the colony without intermediaries with low duties. Thus, "legal tea" became so cheap that it instantly hit the interests of most suppliers of counterfeit tea.

Destruction of tea in the port of Boston, 1773

Disgruntled smugglers largely made an effort to intensify the protest actions of the colonists against the central government. The climax was the event of the end of 1773 in the port of Boston, when, during protests against the unloading of British ships, several dozen people boarded these ships and threw more than 300 boxes of tea right into the sea. The total loss of the East India Company amounted to 9 thousand pounds (approximately $ 1 million 700 thousand at the current exchange rate).

In response to the Boston riots, London immediately passed new legislation against the Massachusetts colony, which the Americans themselves called "Unbearable Laws." According to them, the self-government of the colonists was reduced to a minimum - the governor was henceforth appointed in the capital, and British soldiers could be deployed in the territories of the settlers without their consent.

Adoption of the "Intolerable Laws" by the British Parliament

As a result, these laws united all 13 colonies. Already in 1774, the First Continental Congress introduced a widespread boycott of trade with the metropolis, at the same time putting forward a number of stringent requirements to London. In 1775, the colonists' war against Britain begins. Which, almost 9 years later, ended with the complete defeat of Foggy Albion and the formation of a new state - the United States of America.

Not "opium", but "tea" wars

Another "war story" in which tea and the British Empire were the protagonists. However, unlike the previous one, London won an unconditional victory in this one. It all started in the 19th century because of the same tea.

Opium Wars of the British Empire

At the time, China's economy was the largest on the planet. In 1820, the GDP of the Celestial Empire was equal to $ 228 million, while the British Empire had only $ 36 million. At the same time, China imported quite a few goods from Europe. But the Old World just needed Chinese silk, porcelain and, of course, tea. The Celestial Empire willingly sold all this for pure silver.

By that time, the demand for tea in Britain had grown so much that the kingdom simply did not have enough silver to fully satisfy it. And another plant came to the aid of the British - the poppy. To be more precise, the substance that was obtained from it. Poppy opium.

Caricature of a British opium merchant, 1820s

The British trade monopoly, the East India Company, began a massive increase in the cultivation of poppy and the production of opium from it in India. Then the drug containing morphine was shipped to China. By the end of the 18th century, the Celestial Empire was "tightly sitting" on an opium pipe - the British annually supplied more than 300 tons of pure opium there. The Chinese silver received from drugs was used to buy tea in China.

This scheme suited everyone, except for the official authorities of the Celestial Empire. The Emperor saw how the British were elegantly appropriating Chinese silver, while at the same time simply "mowing" the population of the country with their opium. No laws and decrees could fight this infection. By the early 1830s, 2, 3 thousand tons of pure opium were imported into China annually. Over 12 million Chinese were real opium addicts.

Caricature of the British Opium Supply to China, 1821

No persuasions and proposals from the Chinese authorities worked on Britain. And in the late 1830s, China took decisive steps: the ships of Western merchants began to blockade, and all goods were confiscated. Naturally, the British Crown stood up to protect entrepreneurs. The First Opium War began (1839), which after 3 years ended with the complete victory of the European empire.

However, despite huge repatriations from China - over $ 20 million in silver and Hong Kong as a new province, Britain was in no hurry to curtail the supply of opium to the Celestial Empire. This became the reason for the II Opium War, which, like the First, ended in the complete defeat of the Chinese in 1860. Now China was forced not only to legalize the opium trade on its territory, but also to remove all "taboos" from Christianity.

British Commerce, cartoon from a French newspaper, 1860

Although, by and large, the Second Opium War (unlike the First) had almost nothing to do with the tea trade. By that time, it was already cultivated with might and main in large areas in British India.

Kemal Ataturk's tea "revolution"

The founder of the modern Turkish state and its first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, carried out many political and economic transformations and reforms in Turkey. Some of them were very ambiguous, and were perceived differently not only abroad, but also by the Turks themselves. But, at least one of Ataturk's reforms - the tea house, does not cause any complaints to this day.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1921

Drinking coffee as a drink can be called an age-old tradition for the Turks. However, after World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul lost a lot of territories where coffee was produced. The young Turkish Republic simply could not buy it because of the high cost.The people needed some other, more accessible tonic and "socially uniting" drink.

President Kemal Ataturk bet on cheaper tea than coffee. Moreover, it could be grown in Turkey itself. From the beginning of the 1920s, the country gradually began to develop the tea industry, mainly in the eastern regions - Artvin, Rize and Trabzon. In the mid-1960s, Turkey was able to fully meet the domestic demand for tea with its own product.

Tea is the most popular drink in Turkey

So black strong tea has become a truly new national drink of the Turkish society. Turkey is currently the largest per capita consumer of tea on the planet. Every year it accounts for 3, 15 kg for each Turk.

How a Scotsman in Russia organized tea cultivation

Since the middle of the 17th century, tea has been actively used in the Muscovy as a drink. Largely due to the fact that it bordered in the east with China. Despite the fact that tea in those days was by no means a cheap pleasure, the Moscow nobility was ready to fork out for the opportunity to regularly consume a tonic drink. The popularity of tea drinking in Russia led to the fact that, from the beginning of the 19th century, quite bold ideas began to appear for organizing tea plantations on their own territory. However, the matter did not move further than the idea. Until one Scotsman showed up.

Painting "The merchant's wife at tea".Artist: Konstantin Makovsky, 1914

During the Crimean War, an officer of the British Royal Army, Jacob McNamara, was captured by Russia. After the war, the Scotsman did not return home, and having married a Georgian woman, he remained to live in the Caucasus. It was here that the enterprising McNamara organized the first tea production in the Russian Empire. The Scotsman set up his plantations near Batumi.

At the beginning of the 20th century, tea production was established in the territories of modern Azerbaijan. And then one of the natives of the Chernigov province, a self-taught peasant, Judas Koshman, laid the northernmost tea plantation on the planet (at that time) not far from Sochi. By 1917, the Russian Empire produced approximately 130-140 tons of tea.

Tea plantations near Batum, early 20th century

Beginning in the 1920s, the USSR began to increase tea production, simultaneously developing new varieties that were more adapted to the country's climatic conditions. This is how tea appears, the bushes of which are able to withstand frosts from -15 to -25 ° C. In the Krasnodar Territory, in the Caucasus and in the Caspian region, new tea plantations are being laid and tea factories are opening.

At present, Russians consume about 140 thousand tons of tea a year. And although this is far from the highest indicator in the world, Russia is traditionally considered a "tea country". Even despite the fact that at the end of 2020, for the first time in history, tea did not become the most popular drink among Russians. Having yielded to a kind of "palm tree" of coffee.

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