No one could have predicted in 1690 that in 50 years tea would become the national drink of England. Tea was perhaps the first truly global commodity. The East India Company had a wildly successful marketing campaign to popularize tea in its early years, but all of it came from China. Along with tea, came all the paraphernalia, cups and plates, colloquially still referred to as “china”.
Back then, the well-known tea merchant, Twining’s opened both a coffee-shop and a tea-shop, and was more convinced that coffee would pick up sooner.
It is fascinating how tea, an ancient Chinese drink (that they still drink without sugar or milk) took off in England at the same time that sugarcane became widely available. The English were the first to popularize and widely consume tea with milk and sugar.
A few years later, tea cultivation was introduced in India to break the trade imbalance with China caused by tea importation. Tea in India has never looked back since.