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Smugglers and Other Disreputable Tea Characters

The history of tea blending also has its shady side. In the late 1700’s when England levied huge taxes on tea, some tea drinkers responded by refusing to pay the taxes, declaring independence and setting up their own country. But in England many tea drinkers resorted to drinking smuggled tea. And those people smuggling the tea would secretly blend in many other ingredients into their tea , in order to make their tea stretch further, including; used tea leaves, oak and linden leaves, arsenic, chalk, dried seaweed. This led to some pretty bad tasting tea. Some companies responded by stressing the “purity” of their tea, see the accompanying ad. Also, some historians feel this illicit tea blending is a main reason the British developed the habit of using lots of milk and sugar in their tea; to cover the taste of all the other stuff blended into their tea. 

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