The History of the Tea Trade in China Essay

The History of the Tea Trade in China Essay

Length: 1631 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

It is impossible to explore the culture of the East, of China especially, without encountering the importance of tea. China has a long tradition of tea drinking, and was responsible for acquainting the East and the West. Tea gained popularity throughout the Western world, particularly in Britain, and demand for it increased, China entered a challenging period in their history. Exploring this story shows tea as a social, economic, and political commodity, the catalyst for this conflict and change. Economically, tea led to Britain's exponential economic growth and globalization. Certainly tea was not the lone source of these disturbances, but it was an important one. These excerpts from human history are not intended to reconstruct the story of tea. However, studying tea and the dynamic ways societies have interacted with it provides insight into the rich history of a product that humankind has loved for millennia.
The nineteenth century witnessed the most explosive episode in the history of the tea trade: the Opium Wars. This turmoil centered on economic and outright military conflict between the British Empire and the Chinese. The strength of the tea trade in Western Europe by the mid-seventeenth century led to numerous attempts to supplant the dependency on China with European plantations. Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, led this cause, participating in multiple failed attempts to retrieve and grow tea from China. For the tea-drinking Europeans, China remained their lifeline, something Britain hoped to change. The Seven Years' War (1756-63) and the American War of Independence (1775-83) extinguished the East India Company's silver reserves, which until that point had been the goods used to purchase tea from the Chinese. Vi...


... middle of paper ...


...eals. Mair and Hoh reinforced this in their study of the conflict, offering, "The long fuse of the 19th-century Opium Wars was lit by the unhappy confluence of two parties profoundly ignorant of each other's history and culture . . ." As for China's economic progress after the conflict, Mair and Hoh offered this tragic footnote: " . . . ¬China's doors were forced open, and the country descended into more than a century of economic hardship, foreign invasions, civil war, revolution, and the collapse of the country's ancient tea industry."
The history of tea both in and out of China is long and far-reaching. It is not limited to violence, either economic or physical. Neither is it a story of peace. Understanding tea's material history, and its orbiting elements, as a change agent yields insight into the clashes of culture and ideology that populate human history. 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The History of Tea Essay

- Tea Time Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea. ~Author Unknown When you think of drinking a hot cup of tea, you can’t help but feel rather British. Although tea did not originate in Britain, it certainly found a home there. At a time when the world was speeding up, the shuffle of the Industrial Revolution was embraced by some, avoided by others, and left some scrambling to find their place. Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, cleverly explains tea’s journey across the world and back and its lasting impact on all....   [tags: Tea History]

Free Essays
1583 words (4.5 pages)

Hong Kong : China, European And Modernism Essay

- Hong Kong is a unique metropolitan in the respect that it is shaped by three major influences: Chinese, European and modernism. Its entanglement with these influences has played a major role in cultivating its identity, a quality both complex and rich that it becomes difficult to characterize. However, it is clear that its resiliency has helped Hong Kong become the world city that it is today. Over many years, Hong Kong has made many strides in defining its identity, as evidence of this can be seen from the city’s architecture....   [tags: Hong Kong, China, People's Republic of China]

Better Essays
1185 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on The Tea Plant

- The Tea Plant The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is one of about 80 species of East Asian evergreen shrubs and trees that belong to the tea family, or Theaceae. Tea reaches a height of 9 meters but is kept pruned to a low, mounded shrub in cultivation. The foliage is emerald green, while the flowers are fragrant, yellow-centered, white and about 4 centimeters wide. History Tea plant cultivation began about 4,000 years ago in its native country, China. The Japanese did not discover the plant until the 8th century A.D., and cultivation was established by the 13th century....   [tags: Botany]

Better Essays
2210 words (6.3 pages)

Hong Kong: A History Essay

- 7 million people populate the Chinese city of Hong Kong, located in the Pearl River Estuary in the south of China. With an area of only 426 square miles, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Known for its towering skyline, light pollution, and thriving economy, it is a very unusual city due to the fact that it runs on a capitalist system while the mainland is communist. Its laissez-faire economy is the result of over a century of British colonial rule: prior to its colonization, Hong Kong was home to only fishermen and farmers....   [tags: China, History, Communism, Economy]

Better Essays
2022 words (5.8 pages)

China: History, Politics and Economy of this Great Country Essay

- China is an East Asian country roughly the size of the United States of America that boasts a history of great achievements. Nestled between Mongolia to the north and India and Vietnam to the south, China has a land area of approximately nine and a half million square kilometers (CIA - The World Factbook -- China). In all, China is bordered by thirteen countries including Afghanistan, North Korea, and the Russian Federation. China is accredited as being the oldest constant world civilization. Records dating as far back as 3,500 years have been collected....   [tags: culture, international relations, foreign]

Better Essays
2465 words (7 pages)

Essay about coffee, tea, or opium

- “Coffee, Tea, or Opium?” In “Coffee, Tea, or Opium,” the authors main point is that even at this point in history some rulers felt that drug importation throughout other countries was immoral for their economic and social status. China’s commissioner for foreign trade, Lin Zexu wanted to stop the illegal importation of opium into his country. Lin saw that the opium trade was damaging the publics health and was bleeding China of its wealth. The emperor of Manchu had given Lin extensive power and ordered him to control the demand of China’s people for opium and force the barbarian merchants to cut off the supply....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
963 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on The History of China's and Japan's Western Influence

- After a long period of isolationism, China and Japan were pressured to open trade and have foreign relations with the West in the nineteenth century. During the late 1800’s the Industrial Revolution created a huge gap between the Western and Eastern powers, which left China and Japan in a military and technological disadvantage (Fruhstuck, Lecture). Initially, China and Japan closed their doors to the West because they were both self sustaining nations, did not like foreign influences, and believed that their society was superior to the West....   [tags: modern East Asia]

Better Essays
1442 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about The Opium War

- China has 5000 years of history which experienced wars, collapses, failures and successes. The Opium War in the year 1839 and 1856 marked the changing point of China’s trade policy with foreigners, especially with British in opium and tea. China changed from getting tributes to being forced to sign the Nanjing Treaty and Tianjing Treaty with British and French. Due to China’s over confidence and unwelcome attitude toward foreigners and opium, it caused the British to declare the Opium War to China which made Chinese suffer for many years, but at the same time it also forced China to open its doors to the foreigners....   [tags: Chinese History, China Trade]

Better Essays
2803 words (8 pages)

Essay on The Harried Coffee Culture vs. the Joys of Drinking Tea

- The Harried Coffee Culture vs. the Joys of Drinking Tea Dawn approaches. Signs and sounds of life appear as warm-blooded creatures slough off the chill of night and lumber forth to greet the day. Chitterings and grunts, screeches and roaring fill the ether and rise to a crescendo as beasts gather for their early morning feeding. Many creatures are thrown together, instigating the occasional scuffle as each vies for position. Claws flash, accompanied by warning growls as dominance exerts itself, subordinates retreating with rumbling complaint....   [tags: Argumentative Persuasive Argument Essays]

Free Essays
1263 words (3.6 pages)

China Essay

- Shiven Patel The geography of China and Japan is quite different. They are both located in Eastern Asia, but China is apart of the mainland, while Japan is a group of islands off in the North Pacific. China, the world’s fourth largest country, is considerably larger than Japan. China has a total area of 9,596,960 square kilometers while Japan is only 377,8356 square kilometers. Of course Japan has double the coastline of China for it is an island chain. China has an eastern coastline along the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea....   [tags: essays research papers]

Better Essays
874 words (2.5 pages)