The Globalisation of Trade in the 18th Century
Why do people drink so much tea in Britain? And since when? What did they drink before? All these questions, apart from the first one, are relatively easy to answer. In the years from 1650 to 1700 England imported altogether just 181,545 pounds of tea. From 1700 to 1750 it was no less than 40 million pounds. And that only covers the imports on which duty was paid; smuggling is likely to have accounted for as much again. So tea became a mass drink in England in the first half of the 18th century. Before that, around 1700, England was the world's largest consumer of coffee; this record was then taken over by the Continental Europeans, led by the French and the Dutch.