Tea, London Docks, 1877.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate from 'Illustrated London News'. The English word for tea comes from the Chinese tE. This is the name for tea in the dialect of Fukien province, from which ships started westward on the southern sea route. A monopoly over the tea trade was established by the East Indies Company, consolidated by the 'tea act', famously resisted by the 'Boston tea party' and revoked in 1833. By the late 19th century Chinese tea competed at London's 'tea auctions' with the growing Indian and Ceylonese exports. With increased trade aided by steamships, tea companies began to blosom in Britain by the late 19th century, introducing blending, branding and packaging.