20Reading 35-1The “free” tea trade developed in Liverpool, Dublin, and other ports for the 1st time, since all East India Company ships had previously landed their cargoes in London. There was great growth in tea imports, and a great growth in the instability of the market, since no single organization, Chinese or British, continued to hold stocks as had the East India Company and its Chinese trading partners in Canton. The Opium War not only interrupted trade for nearly 3 years, but the disruption in China probably destroyed or damaged as much as 1 year’s complete stock of tea. In the 1840s no one, anywhere in the world, carried large buffer stocks.The East Indiamen had traveled in a most leisurely, comfortable fashion, outward via the Cape of Good Hope; east of, sometimes all round, Australia and then due north to China, avoiding the East Indies altogether. The squat, matronly East Indiamen, “floating warehouses” built for comfort rather than speed, sometimes anchored at night in fog or when navigation was difficult and had no incentive to sail at speed, because no one apart from the Company traded in tea. After 1815, however, the Pax Britannica, maintained by the Royal Navy, meant that self-defense and long voyages avoiding land were no longer necessary.
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