History: Fine blend of pleasure and exploitation

3rd October 2003 at 01:00

Tea: addiction, exploration and empire
By Roy Moxham
Constable pound;14.99

How did a sacramental brew, prepared with hand-rolled leaves and buds from a mountain shrub, infused in boiling spring water and served in delicate porcelain cups to thoughtful sages, become a box of bags hastily shovelled into metal pots beneath steaming spouts, poured into thick mugs and gulped down with milk and bacon sandwiches?

The story of tea, the staffroom mainstay, and its part in the national story of Great Britain is a fascinating one to which Roy Moxham pays wry, idiosyncratic homage. Hinging his historical account on the year he spent helping to run a tea plantation in east Africa, he covers several centuries and continents, fads and fancies and bits of social history.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine


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