2Reading 35-1By 1820, millions of pounds of tea were being imported into Europe every year, and re-exported all over the world, more than half by the British. Probably 30 million pounds was consumed in the United Kingdom annually. Despite its high cost at this date, tea was drunk throughout the British Isles by all who could afford to buy it.All the tea came from Canton, on the southern coast of China, and none of the merchants had as yet penetrated inland. Although China had made available to the West much of the technology of the preindustrial age, tea growing and tea curing had never moved westward, only eastward and southward to Japan, Formosa, and Java. Tea was unknown in India, except as an imported consumable from China, enjoyed only by some Europeans and a few Europeanized Indians.History’s joke on Europe is that for nearly 2 centuries a commodity was imported halfway across the world, and that a huge industry grew up involving as much as 5% of England’s entire gross domestic product, and yet no one knew anything about how tea was grown, or prepared, or blended.In that great burst of mercantile activity that followed the Renaissance, western European influence spread about the globe and created the world we know today.
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