Posted by: oysterculture | January 17, 2009

The Linnean Society of London, event on January 22nd

Another food related event has come on my radar, and I wanted to share the information.  The event is hosted by the Linnean Society of London, and it is entitled Tea: The Drink that Changed the World. 

Here is their address:

The Linnean Society of London

Burlington House,  Piccadilly,  London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom

The following write up on the event comes directly from the Linnean website (I envy you folks in London that can attend):

Is it exaggeration to claim that tea changed the world?  Linnaeus clearly did not think so.  For over twenty years he tried to grow it in vain, and often hilarious, efforts to “stop all the silver flow out of Europe”.  That outflow was halted by the disgraceful “opium wars”.  Intrepid British explorers and pioneering planters made tea-growing possible in India – and later Ceylon and E Africa – and changed tastes and economies in the process.

By then the beautiful porcelain that came with China’s tea had driven Europe’s potters to steal the secret of its manufacture and outstrip their tutors in the beauty of their wares.  As the clippers raced to be first with the season’s tea even ship design was revolutionised and governments bent this thirst to their fiscal goals.

 18th century table manners and social customs of the middle classes evolved to accommodate the new beverage, praised by authors from Pepys to Johnson, and by the late 19th century it had changed the habits and working practices of everyone in Britain and its colonies.

Why did it never catch on in the rest of Europe?  How were its medicinal properties discovered and how did it help Britain to survive two World Wars?  Exaggeration?

Tea will be served in the Library from 5.30pm and the lecture will be followed by a wine reception. This meeting is free and open to all, registration is not necessary.



  1. I plan to attend and will report back!

  2. Awesome! Can’t wait to hear how it goes. Sounds like it should be very interesting

  3. I’ve returned home from the Linnean Society. This was everything I imagined a quintessential British “secret” society event to be. Many old men in plaid coats, dry humor, gathered around a library, and with cups of tea – with milk. It was fabulous! Mr. Griffiths claimed (with evidence) that tea was essential for the evolution of modern day ship design (post 1800s) and winning both World Wars. Thank you for recommending the event. Four of my classmates attended as well – one is a tea trader. One quick fact he also mentioned. 1816 – 3#/per man, woman, child of tea a year consumed in Britain that year. 1970 – 10#/per man, woman, child. Drops to 5#/per person per year…the cause? Coffee.

  4. Thank you so much for letting me know how it went. I’ll live vicariously through you. I bet it was very interesting and having read my share of books pertaining to the East India Tea Company I can see the importance of sound naval design. I’ll keep a lookout for other events in the UK, I get some random bits of information in my inbox. I’m working on adding my recipes to the homemade post – so you’ll see something on Cowboy Candy soon.

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