Agricultural worker picking tea. Photo by Jean Norwood, 1979. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00556
Settle in for a good strong cuppa because December 15 is International Tea Day!
Tea drinking began thousands of years ago in China and made its way west to Europe through Dutch trade in the sixteenth century. By the nineteenth century, the East India Company had a monopoly on the tea trade between China and Britain.
Despite a dramatic rejection of imported tea by angry colonials during the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, Americans have certainly not let history keep them from their tea in the long run!
International Tea Day has been celebrated since 2005 in an aim to draw attention to the impact of global trade on workers and growers in the tea industry.
In addition to understanding where the tea comes from, and how it is produced, the day is also a chance to sip your favorite flavors! Take a look below at a small selection of drawings and photographs related to tea drinking from our collections, and perhaps enjoy your own cup of tea as you scroll!
The biggest tea-pot on earth, holding a million cups — Pure Food Exhibit — Jamestown – Virginia. 1907. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s07355
Gruppa kresti︠a︡n za stolom, Rossiĭskai︠a︡ imperii︠a︡. (Group of peasants posed at outdoor table, Russian Empire.) Photo by B. Avanzo, ca. 1875. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/prok.01969
Tea time in the air. Miss Wanda Wood, hostess for the Eastern Air Transport, serves tea for two, Misses Charlotte Childress and Elizabeth Hume, aboard one of the line’s passenger planes. The company provides bridge, tea and cigarettes, with hostesses and arrange the bridge games and serve the tea. Photo by Harris and Ewing, January 10, 1930. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.36199
Girl holding tea pot and cup on tray. Watercolor drawing by Edward Penfield, between 1884 and 1925. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cai.2a14086
Afternoon tea. Photo ca. 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f06077
A Japanese tea party. Stereograph by H.C. White Co., c1901. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c21553
Mrs. Corey’s A.R.C. Officers Convalescent Home No. 8, Chateau de Villequeis [i.e. Vilgénis], Verrieres de Buisson [i.e. Verrières-le-Buisson]. (S.E.O.) Afternoon tea on the terrace. Mrs. Corey pours tea for a visiting colonel. […] Photo by American Red Cross, September 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.17611
Bearded man drinking tea beside samovar. Pen and ink drawing by Thomas Fogarty, between 1890 and 1938. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cai.2a12472