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A Dark History of Tea (Hardback)

British History P&S History Social History

By Seren Charrington-Hollins
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Series: A Dark History
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526761606
Published: 30th March 2020


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A Dark History of Tea looks at our long relationship with this most revered of hot beverages. Renowned food historian Seren Charrington-Hollins digs into the history of one of the world’s oldest beverages, tracing tea's significance on the tables of the high and mighty as well as providing relief for workers who had to contend with the ardours of manual labour.

This humble herbal infusion has been used in burial rituals, as a dowry payment for aristocrats; it has fuelled wars and spelled fortunes as it built empires and sipped itself into being an integral part of the cultural fabric of British life. This book delves into the less tasteful history of a drink now considered quintessentially British. It tells the story of how, carried on the backs of the cruelty of slavery and illicit opium smuggling, it flowed into the cups of British society as an enchanting beverage.

Chart the exportation of spices, silks and other goods like opium in exchange for tea, and explain how the array of good fortunes – a huge demand in Britain, a marriage with sugar, naval trade and the existence of the huge trading firms – all spurred the first impulses of modern capitalism and floated countries.

The story of tea takes the reader on a fascinating journey from myth, fable and folklore to murky stories of swindling, adulteration, greed, waging of wars, boosting of trade in hard drugs and slavery and the great, albeit dark engines that drove the globalisation of the world economy. All of this is spattered with interesting facts about tea etiquette, tradition and illicit liaisons making it an enjoyable rollercoaster of dark discoveries that will cast away any thoughts of tea as something that merely accompanies breaks, sit downs and biscuits.

As featured by

Bookseller 6/12/19

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Since 2007 Seren Charrington-Hollins has been bringing history to life through food. As a professional food historian she has made numerous appearances on television and given countless radio interviews about our culinary history and traditions. Seren’s passion for history and food come to life in her food writing and re-creations of historical dishes and memorable meals. Her work has been exhibited in country houses, museums and castles across Britain, in addition to having advised on food history and trends throughout the UK and globally. Seren’s career started as a herbalist and nutritionist, but her love of history led her to giving lectures on herbal lore and the ancient role of the apothecary. Seren’s lifelong love of food and history have led her to focus increasingly on British culinary history. Today, her areas of specialty include rural and agricultural history, women's history, the history of domestic science, dining etiquette and the home front during the First and Second World Wars, as well as food and drink throughout the ages.

Perfect Partner

A Secret History of Brands The Dark and Twisted Beginnings of the Brand Names We Know and Love (Paperback)

We live our lives immersed in name brand products. It's hard to drive down the street without seeing a plethora of chain restaurants, car dealerships, branded clothing they're all around us. What most of us don't know is that the origins of many of the most well-known and beloved brands in the world are shrouded in controversy, drug use and sometimes even addled with blatant racism. A Secret History of Brands cuts through the rumours and urban legends and paints a picture of the true dark history of famous brands, like Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss, Adidas, Ford, Bayer, Chanel and BMW among others. Explore…

By Matt MacNabb

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