Skip to main content

Catherine of Braganza—Shall we Have a Cup of Tea?

Tea Party by Louis Moeller (1905). Source: Wikimedia

The tradition of drinking tea in today’s contemporary period is so closely associated with the British way of life. While it is not entirely true that the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, who became queen-consort of Charles II of England, introduced tea to Britain, she definitely set the trend of making tea a fashionable and, today, a favorite beverage.

The Portuguese started trading with China in 1537 and among the products they got from the Orient included tea. However, its expensive cost and its exotic appeal made tea only exclusive for the moneyed class, which made it very fashionable in the royal court and aristocratic circle. Aside from Portugal, tea also gained popularity in Holland through Dutch trade in the East. While England's future King Charles II was exiled in The Hague during this period, he got the opportunity to enjoy tea regularly. England, however, lagged behind. English diarist Samuel Pepys first mentioned drinking tea in his diary entry for September 25, 1660. He wrote that he was discussing about foreign affairs with some friends, 'And afterwards did send for a Cupp of Tee (a China drink) of which I never drank before.' Pepys was a member of the wealthy and fashionable London set but his failure to make earlier mention of tea in his diaries suggests that it was still unusual during this time.

In 1660, the monarchy was restored in England and Charles was invited to become king. In 1662, he married Catherine of Braganza and it was she who popularized the habit of drinking tea at the English court.

Legend has it that when Catherine landed on the English soil for the first time following a tough crossing from Portugal, she asked for a cup of tea to calm her nerves and stomach. However, tea was still a rarity in England so there was none available and ale was served, instead. In another version, Catherine of Braganza was said to have arrived at Portsmouth with a casket of tea with her. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: Catherine preferred tea than the usual alcoholic beverages because she believed that alcohol :habitually heated or stupefied their brains morning, noon, and night.”  Since then, drinking tea became popular at court.

Catherine of Braganza. Source: Wikimedia

However, the concept of the “afternoon tea” was not introduced until the mid-19th century, thanks to Anna, the seventh duchess of Bedford. She was always hungry at four in the afternoon. This was the time when dinner was served at eight o'clock, thus, leaving a long period of time from lunch until dinner. The duchess would ask for a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich popularized the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread), and cake in the late afternoon. The duchess became accustomed to this habit and the friends she invited to join her also fell for the idea and started preparing afternoon tea.

England’s upper crust eventually observed tea time as a fashionable social event. By the 1880's, the high society would take tea time seriously and ladies would wear long gowns, gloves and hats for an afternoon tea in the drawing room between four and five o'clock.

Here are other interesting articles about Cathering of Braganza and the British tea time

Short History of Tea and Britain


  1. Quantum Binary Signals

    Professional trading signals sent to your mobile phone every day.

    Start following our signals NOW and profit up to 270% per day.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular posts from this blog

The Truth about “Princess Qajar,” the Royal Lady with the Mustache

A Persian princess viral news websites baptized as Princess Qajar has lately become a stuff of legends. She was presented as a royal lady with a facial hair that made her so attracted that 13 men claimed their own lives because she couldn’t love them. The truth is, there was no “Princess Qajar,” only the Qajar dynasty  that ruled over Persia for more than a century.

The only fact about this historical meme is that at that time, it was fashionable for Persian women to wear mustache. “Many Persian-language sources, as well as photographs, from the nineteenth century confirm that Qajar women sported a thin mustache, or more accurately a soft down, as a sign of beauty,” explained Dr. Afsaneh Najmabadi.
The memes and fake stories circulating online refer not to a single princess, but actually to two female dynasts: Princess Fatemah Khanum"'Esmat al-Dowleh" and her half-sister, Princess Zahra Khanom Tadj es-Saltaneh. Their father, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, ruled Persia from 1…

Queen Victoria and Her Conflict with Lord Palmerston

Moving on with our Queen Victoria series, today we will discuss about Queen Victoria’s “cold” treatment of one of her ministers, Lord Palmerston. We shall see how this long-running conflict began.
The defeat of the Tories in the 1846 General Elections saw the dismissal of Sir Robert Peel from the office. With the Whigs on the helm of the government, Henry John Temple, the Viscount Palmerston was appointed Minister of the Foreign Office. His ascension to that post ushered in the greatest struggle between the crown and its ministers since the day when George III had dismissed the coalition government of Fox and North.
Lord Palmerston’s long tenure in public office made up almost untouchable Palmerston’s appointment to the Foreign Office came shortly after he celebrated his 60th birthday, a time when he could proudly look back on his achievements and career in the government that began in 1809, ten years before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were born. Always confident in his wit and dip…

The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara

When Princess Eugenie of York married Mr. Jack Brooksbank, it was not only the first time that she wore a tiara in public, it was also the first instance when one of the British Royal Family’s most precious tiaras surfaced after being locked up in the royal vault for over seven decades. Contrary to popular speculation that Princess Eugenie would wear her mother’s York Diamond Tiara, the bride, instead, borrowed The Queen’s Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara.
The tiara was originally created by Boucheron for to society hostess The Hon. Mrs. Herman Greville in 1919. According to the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, Mrs. Greville “was a social climber,” “a snob” and gossipy lady. Cecil Beaton also describes her as a “galumphing, greedy, snobbish old toad who watered her chops at the sight of royalty and the Prince of Wales’s set, and did nothing for anybody except the rich."  
The tiara was designed in the kokoshnik style, which was popularized by the members of the Russian Imperi…