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Earliest UK tea drinkers were, probably, from Yorkshire

The good people of Yorkshire have tea almost running in their veins. They are officially, according to some of the latest statistics the county that drinks the most tea in the United Kingdom. That is not all that surprising when you consider that Yorkshire and not London as previously thought was where the first cup of tea in Great Britain was drunk.

Temple Newsam House in Leeds is an ancient and magnificent building and while rummaging through the archives a researcher discovered a shopping list which included an order worth four shilling bottles of ‘China drink’, which in the 1640s is what tea would have been referred to.

In the 1640s tea was a most uncommon drink and would have been hugely expensive. The shopping list was dated December 8, 1644, and for those in Yorkshire who wish to claim the earliest tea drinking record, it predates the previous earliest entry by the diarist Samuel Pepys who mentioned tea in 1660. But even that date is late in comparison to the rest of Europe who were drinking tea in the mid to late 1500s. Perhaps its reported properties of “preserving perfect health until extreme old age” and “making the body active and lusty” improved sales across Great Britain.

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