I imagine you may not know that it was a Portuguese Princess that popularised Tea in England. But it is true and, as I am Portuguese, I am very proud of this!!!! Her name was Catherine of Braganza, and she married your King Charles II in 1662.
When Charles II became King, he inherited a big financial debt. Marrying Princess Catherine of Portugal was one of the solutions found to help solve this crisis, as it was agreed she would give him a wealthy dowry. For example, the city of Mumbai, in India, was part of the dowry.
Princess Catherine used to drink Tea in the Portuguese Royal Court, as the Portuguese traders were already importing Tea to Europe. This continued once she moved to England. Naturally this meant that, in a short period of time, the taste for Tea spread around the English Royal Court and among the wealthier population.
Due to the expensive importation and taxation of Tea, it was not accessible to most of the remaining population. This meant that smuggling was the way for these people to access Tea. This activity grew so quickly and was in such demand that, it is thought that by the end of the 18th century there was more Tea being smuggled then actually being legally brought to the Country.
In 1785 Prime Minister William Pitt drastically cut taxation on Tea, which ended the need for smuggling. Tea became more affordable.
Did you know that your morning cup of Tea is one of the 165,000,000 cups drunk in Britain each day! If only Princess Catherine knew of the legacy she left… Well done Portugal!!