100 Fixing the Calendar 1582

  The Drink That Launched a Thousand Ships 1610

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28  The Drink That Launched a Thousand Ships 1610 
EVER SINCE 1610, when the Dutch East India Company first brought tea to Europe from the island of Hirado, off the coast of Japan, tea has had few rivals as a catalyst for world events. 
By the middle of the 18th century, tea had become Great Britain's signature quaff. Tea-drinking stimulated workers, leading to increased productivity, accelerating the industrial revolution. But the English were importing so much tea by the end of the century that they decided to sell opium to China to correct the trade imbalance. In 1839 the Qing government, concerned about China's social and economic disintegration, destroyed opium stored in Canton, provoking the first of two Opium Wars. Chinese junks proved no match for British Congreve rockets; at the war's end, China ceded control of Hong Kong. 

On the other side of the world, American colonists refused to pay a threepence-a-pound tax on tea imports "without representation." They seized control of three British tea-bearing vessels docked at Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, and hurled the contents of 342 chests overboard. Similar protests in Charleston, S.C., Philadelphia and other cities fomented the American Revolution. 

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