The Thirst for Tea
An Examination of Tea Smuggling in England During the Long Eighteenth Century
This paper seeks to examine the smuggling of tea during the long eighteenth century through several facets. In order to understand why smuggling occurred throughout the eighteenth century, one must take into consideration the laws which necessitated the need for smuggling, as well as the economic environment of Britain throughout the century. In addressing the widescale phenomena of ritualized tea drinking, one can comprehend why tea, specifically, was selected to be smuggled, admittedly among a myriad of other valuable commodities. It is also critical to explore the materiality of tea ritual, as well as the smuggling process, as objects are a crucial element to the narrative and development of tea and its associated illicit activities. Bringing these components of examination together, one may begin to understand why tea was smuggled during the eighteenth century, and how the British government consequently worked to end smuggling altogether.