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Monday, July 27, 2009

Pictorial Tea Tour ............... WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER (c.1783)

William Pitt the Younger
The National Portrait Gallery, London

Tea was highly coveted - and expensive - in 18th century England. The tax on it alone eventually capped out at 119%!!! Its cost was so high that people sometimes bought tea from smugglers. Many of the tea merchants who refused to get involved went out of business. "Adulteration" of tea (adding filler ingredients like ash leaves) was also known to happen. Because green tea was easier to adulterate, black tea became popular.

In 1783, at age 24, William Pitt the Younger took office as Britain’s youngest Prime Minister. His new government’s first order of business was to investigate taxation. He met regularly with tea merchants like Richard Twining to address the issue. Tune in tomorrow to see what happened.

(Purchase the William Pitt print here)

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