Contributing Works Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Make Tea, Not War

by Mary Murkin

Tea is here to stay! It has been an important part of our history; no less so in times of conflict. There was that little bit of business back in 1773 in the Boston Harbor that seemed to put our treatment of tea in a bad light. This was a key event in the American Revolution against the mother country—the British Empire. There was some nastiness about “taxation without representation” going on and that did not set well with the Sons of Liberty group here in America. The destruction of tea on that given night was a message of retaliation that stood for many injustices that Parliament wished to impose on the colonists. It was not a reflection of our feelings about tea itself.

Historically, tea was fiercely important to the British during World Wars I and II. During WW I, tea prices began to rise because of so many tea cargo ships being sunk by German submarines. The government took over the importation of tea and controlled the prices of it.

Tea was an essential morale-booster for soldiers and greater measures were taken to try to protect it. Two days after WW II broke out, the British government took control of all the tea stocks and ordered that they be safely stored in warehouses outside of the capital in case of bombing.

Due to blockades in the water, tea ships could not get through to deliver tea. The Ministry of Food began to ration tea in 1940. They introduced a ration of two ounces of tea per person per week for those citizens over the age of five. There was extra tea allowed for those in the armed forces, and for firemen and steel workers. Tea was also sent to British prisoners of war abroad. Tea rationing did not end when the war ended in 1945. Tea remained rationed until October of 1952.

At this point in time, we are now lucky enough to get all the tea we want, when we want it and in so many varieties. Let’s hope we will never again have to come to such measures as people had to bear in the recent past. We are lucky enough to enjoy our tea without a threat of it being taken away from us. For that, we should celebrate! Raise your teacups or glasses to a toast and then “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery
170 Worth Street
Asheboro, NC 27203


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