How the global tea industry influenced the international economy and the rise of mass consumerism
Tea has been one of the most popular commodities in the world. Over centuries, profits from its growth and sales funded wars and fueled colonization, and its cultivation brought about massive changes-in land use, labor systems, market practices, and social hierarchies-the effects of which are with us even today. A Thirst for Empire takes a vast and in depth historical look at how men and women-through the tea industry in Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa-transformed global tastes and habits and in the process created our modern consumer society.
As Erika Rappaport shows, between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries the boundaries of the tea industry and the British Empire overlapped but were never identical, and she highlights the economic, political, and cultural forces that enabled the British Empire to dominate-but never entirely control-the worldwide production, trade, and consumption of tea. Rappaport delves into how Europeans adopted, appropriated, and altered Chinese tea culture to build a widespread demand for tea in Britain and other global markets and a plantation-based economy in South Asia and Africa. Tea was among the earliest colonial industries in which merchants, planters, promoters, and retailers used imperial resources to pay for global advertising and political lobbying. The commercial model that tea inspired still exists and is vital for understanding how politics and publicity influence the international economy.
An expansive and original global history of imperial tea, A Thirst for Empire demonstrates the ways that this fluid and powerful enterprise helped shape the contemporary world.
A Soldiers' Tea Party in Surrey 1
I: Anxious Relations
1 "A China Drink Approved by All Physicians": Setting the Early Modern Tea Table 23
2 The Temperance Tea Party: Making a Sober Consumer Culture in the Nineteenth Century 57
3 A Little Opium, Sweet Words, and Cheap Guns: Planting a Global Industry in Assam 85
4 Packaging China: Advertising Food Safety in a Global Marketplace 120
II: Imperial Tastes
5 Industry and Empire: Manufacturing Imperial Tastes in Victorian Britain 147
6 The Planter Abroad: Building Foreign Markets in the Fin de Siècle 183
7 "Every Kitchen an Empire Kitchen": The Politics of Imperial Consumerism 222
8 "Tea Revives the World": Selling Vitality during the Depression 264
9 "Hot Drinks Mean Much in the Jungle": Tea in the Service of War 305
10 Leftovers: An Imperial Industry at the End of Empire 335
11 "Join the Tea Set": Youth, Modernity, and the Legacies of Empire during the Swinging Sixties 375
List of Illustrations 529