A Shift in My View on Tea Introduction to the West

These past few weeks’ readings have definitely changed my view on tea and its introduction to the west. Honestly, I never used to know anything about how tea got to England, or the Opium Wars, and much of everything in between either. However, through reading and specifically watching the video for Tuesday’s class I think my perception was really changed. That video really opened my eyes to how the economic and political aspects played a part in the Opium wars; specifically how china only wanted silver bullion in payment for the tea and still was only giving small quantities for that price. Which in turn led to the introduction of opium, its ban, and the wars to follow. All in all that small bit of information really gave a large amount of clarity to the Opium Wars and the economic factors that played into their origins.

Second, the video also shed light on something else I had been curious about- how on earth England began to grow tea in places outside of China. Being that China was so secretive – threatening death to anyone who revealed the process of making tea, I genuinely couldn’t fathom a way Britain was able to get their hands on the materials and knowledge to begin its cultivation. That was where we learn about espionage, and how that was used to get tea seeds, plants, and the knowledge of how to grow them to India. While I can’t say that I’m horribly surprised the UK would go to such dramatic and horrific lengths as to dress someone in yellowface to procure tea; the depth of the plot to procure these tea cultivation plants and secrets shed light on just how important tea had become and how much wealth was on the line that made people go to these lengths- which was really the shocking part of it.

Image one - Tea cultivation in China

Image two- spy

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