We’re going back into the archives to revisit these classic posts by James Norwood Pratt. This post includes two different multi-part sequences: “The Reception in Europe” and “Mandarin and Muscovite”. We have added a link to the end of each one to take you to the next if you would like to read them as a sequence, or you can choose which you want to peruse below. Enjoy!

The Reception in Europe

The progress of this famous plant has been something like the progress of truth; suspected at first, though very palatable to those who had the courage to taste it; resisted as it encroached; abused as its popularity seemed to spread; and established in its triumph at last, in cheering the whole land from the palace to the cottage, only by the slow and restless efforts of time and its own virtues.

Isaac D’Israeli (1766-1848)
in a 1790 Edinburgh Review

Part One

When the Dutch brought the first tea to Europe in 1610, England’s Good Queen Bess had been dead seven years, Shakespeare had six years to live, and Rem­brandt was four years old. After decades of Portuguese middle­manship, the Dutch East India Company had been… (Read more)

Part Two

In the light of more recent history, it seems strange that tea drinking encountered no official intolerance in Europe-no rabid prohibitionists, no self-perpetuating anti-drug agency. You can, however, trace the spread of tea… (Read more)

Mandarin and Muscovite

We are neither of the West nor of the East. We belong to that number of nations which does not seem to make up an integral part of the human race, but which exists only to teach the world some great lesson.

Piotr Chaadaev, early nineteenth century Russian philosopher

Part One

About the time that first tea order from the Dutch Lords Seventeen reached their agent in the Orient, the Mogul emperor of north India (what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere), was… (Read more)

Part Two

Ordinary caravans numbered two hundred to three hundred camels and took almost a year for the trip from Moscow to Usk Kayakhta and back. Reckoning about six hundred pounds to the camel, more knowledgeable authorities than I estimate Russia was… (Read more)

Part Three

Up until the 1770s, Russia had mostly bought brick tea for the Siberian market. From 1775 to 1800, however, the quantity of loose tea bought at Kayakhta climbed to… (Read more)

Photo “Caravan” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Joe Goldberg and is being posted unaltered (source)