Indian-grown tea began thriving on British plantations throughout India, Assam, Burma and Ceylon. Despite the increased tea supply, the East India Company kept tea prices high and controlled its supply until they went out of business in 1874. England became the biggest consumers of tea, outside of China, and they began seeing bold and imaginative advertising for tea, which influenced advertising and propaganda methods for decades to come (Pettigrew, 89).
To appreciate the amounts of tea grown in India, in 1866, Britain imported 97 million pounds of tea from China and 4 million pounds from India. By 1896, Britain imported 24 million pounds of tea from China, 122 million pounds from India, and 80 million pounds from Ceylon. Green tea from China was still appreciated in England, but by the end of the 19th century, Britain was a nation almost exclusively of black tea drinkers (Pettigrew, 89).
The British people were enjoying the fruits of their labors in the industrial revolution, and with the lower taxes, it was now commonplace for the lower classes to drink legal tea. The “English worker without tea is like an engine without oil, which does not necessarily work if you do not give it some, but certainly does not if you don’t,” (Scott, 152).
The East India Company controlled two-thirds of India, which became extremely controversial with English public by the mid-1800s. The British Parliament limited the Company’s financial and administrative autonomy until the Indian Mutiny of 1857, after which the British government terminated the Company. In 1858, India came under the control of the British Crown (Hodge, 204) and the era of the “Raj” began. Raj is Hindu word for “rule,” and the Crown ruled India until 1947 (Hodge, 587).
A cup of tea was now a daily occurrence throughout all regions of England. The cup of tea could then be seen as the embodiment of the British Empire itself. The porcelain cup came through British-controlled Hong Kong, the tea from British-controlled India. Sugar is grown in British West Indies colonies, and milk comes from domestic, English dairy farms.