Monday, February 17, 2014

A Social History of Tea

Jane Pettigrew's National Trust book, A Social History of Tea, was published in England in 2001. I purchased my copy in 2002, and have referred to it again and again. The book begins with tea in England in the Seventeenth Century, and concludes with tea in Great Britain in Twentieth Century.

I was privileged to attend a Tea Masters class taught by Jane Pettigrew and Tim Clifton during a 2007 tea tour in London, England, sponsored by the UK Tea Council. Some of the information presented in class was from Jane's book.

[Jane and Tim, London, England]

Jane was in the United States for the 2007 World Tea Expo in Atlanta, Georgia,  and I was privileged to hear her again.  As the keynote speaker for the Southern Association of Tea Businesses, held at the Carter Presidential Center, she kicked-off the Expo for those in attendance.

Her topic was "The US verses the UK - the Battle Over Tea" - 350 years of similarities and differences."  It is usually assumed that tea was consumed in England long before it came to the United States.  While there is no specific record of the first instance of tea consumption in America, it is factual that tea was consumed in New Amsterdam [later renamed New York] in 1647 when Peter Stuyvesant arrived as governor, compared to England's first reference to tea in Samuel Pepys diary in 1660. 

[L-R:  Me, Jane, and Mary Jane]

In 2011, Jane was the special speaker at a tea event sponsored by the Amherst Rose Tea Room in Massillon, Ohio.  The tea room [now closed] was owned by Mary Jane, pictured above. [Mary Jane and I were roommates in London, England, as well as Atlanta, Georgia.]

In the photograph below Jane was sharing a bit of tea's social history as it related to ladies' tea gowns, using a ribbon to demonstrate the desired waist size [18 inches or less] of ladies in the mid-to-late Nineteenth Century.  Sure glad I didn't live in that time period!  ;-)

Recently Jane Pettigrew, and well-known American tea authority, Bruce Richardson, teamed up to write an updated and expanded version of A Social History of Tea that includes not only the United Kingdom's social history of tea, but America's as well, including the Twenty-First Century to date.  The book became available in November 2013, and I recently purchased my copy.  It's a great addition to my tea library, and I can hardly wait to read it. It's available at or Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.


  1. That photo with the ribbon is certainly a telling one! And I have the first book but not the second, so I will look forward to your review of it after you've read it!

  2. It's a wonderful book, isn't it?! Thanks for sharing your photos!


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