The Tea Lady: Part III, The Anthropology Lesson
Human beings consume more tea than any other substance except water and air, and it is perhaps the most social of all drinks.
Originating in the mountains of the Eastern Himalayas, tea has been exported across the world and has engendered vast changes to the patterns of our social lives: as a ritualised aesthetic in Japan and China and a mainstay commodity for the British empire where it created tea houses, new roles for women, and new forms of decorative arts.
Anthropologist Alan Macfarlane, in his book, Green Gold: the Empire of Tea, even suggests that the expansion of British imperialism was fundamentally fuelled by the extra energy of tea drank by British colonials with milk and sugar. For more interesting tea tid-bits, check out his website which has links to his various books, some delightful film clips detailing the production and consumption of tea, as well as reminiscences of his mother and the tea plantation in India where he was born.)