Chronography of Tea & Coffee

Page last modified 28/9/2021


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See also Food & Drink


Coffee See also Prices, (1684 etc)

1991, Nescafe launched the first instant cappuccino coffee.

1954,Maxwell House instant coffee went on sale in the UK.

1942, Irish coffee was invented as a reviving drink by Joe Sheridan, for passengers enduring the 18-hour transatlantic flying boat trip from Ireland to the USA.

29/11/1942. In the US, coffee rationing began.

1/4/1938, Instant coffee was launched under the name Nescafe. It had been invented in 1937 after 8 years of research at Nestle, Switzerland. It went on sale in shops in Britain and Australia in 1939.

23/10/1933, The first Lyons Corner House opened in London.

1923, Vienna had 1,250 cofee houses, down from 15,000 in 1842.

1919,The iconic Bettys Caf� in Harrogate was opened.

1906, In Germany, coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius patented the first decaffeinated coffee. It was marketed as Sanka, a contraction of Sans Caffeine.

1903, Dr Satori Kato, a US-Japanese chemist in Chicago, developed a process for manufactirung soluble instant coffee. He patented the process, but it was not commercially marketed.

1842, Vienna had 15,000 coffee houses. In 1925 Vienna had just 1,250 coffee houses.

1824, The Quaker John Cadbury opened a tea and coffee shop in Birmingham. This business later developed into the Cadbury confectionery company

1727, The Portuguese began coffee plantations in Brazil.

1725, London now had over 2,000 coffee houses, up from 1 in 1652.

1684, The price of tea in continental Europe was under 1 shilling per pound, but England charged an import duty of 5 shillings a pound. As a consequence, more than half the tea consumed in England had been smuggled in.

1676, First coffee house licenced in Boston, USA.

29/12/1675. The English Parliament ordered the closure of all coffee houses, believing they were centres from which malicious rumours about the government originated.

1671, The first coffee house in France opened in Marseilles. The first one in Paris opened in 1672.

1652, London�s first coffee house opened, in St Michael�s Alley, Cornhill, under Armenian managenment. Coffee was believed to cure a range of ailments including gout and scurvy.

1650, England�s first coffee house opened, in Oxford, by a Jew from Turkey. Tea reached England for the first time. Chinese tea was very expenssive at this time, so it was kept in locked wooden or silver boxes, called caddies after the Asian word �catty�, a unit of weight, around 600g, in which tea was sold.

1580, Coffee reached Italy.

1554, The first coffee house in Constantinople opened.

1450, The town of Mocha, south-western Arabia, became the main port for coffee exports.

850, Coffee was discovered (according to legend) when an Arab goatherd, Kaldi, noticed that his goats became frisky whe they chewed the berries of certain bushes.



1958, The first fully automatic tea vending machine was [roduced in Britain.

5/10/1952, In the UK, tea came off-ration.

1937, The first Teasmade machine went on sale in Britain. It was initially called the Cheerywake, and was designed by Brenner Thornton in 1936.

31/5/1965. A spokesman for Tetley�s, Britain�s biggest teabag manufacturer, said they would have 25% of the market by 1975.

23/10/1933, The first Lyons Corner House opened in London.

2/10/1931, Tea tycoon Sir Thomas Lipton died, aged 81. Born in Glasgow Sir Thomas, a grocer, bought tea. coffee and cocoa plantations in Sri Lanka to supply his shops.

15/4/1929, Chancellor Winston Churchill, in his budget, abolished the 325-year-old tea duty, knocking 4d off the price of a pound of tea.

1919, 1) The iconic Bettys Caf� in Harrogate was opened.

2) The first teabags went on sale, in the USA. Used initially by the catering trade, they became widely used in the US home from the 1930s. They were only marketed in the UK from 1952, by Tetley.

1918, Teabags were patented by Benjamin Hirschhorn in the USA.

1904, The first teabags appeared in the USA. Tea merchant Thomas Sullivan sent samples of tea out to his customers in small hand-swen muslin bags, and people found they could brew a cup of tea by placing it in a cup of boiling water.

1902, The first prototype tea making machine was produced by gunsmith Frank Clarke in Britain. It was heated by a tray of methylated spirits lit by a match.


UK tea consumption, kg / capita


Kg / capita










1896, Tea imports for this year to the UK totalled 227,785,500 lbs. In 1718, 1,000,000 lbs had been imported, and in 1678, just 5,000 lbs.

1894, The first of the famous Lyons teahops opened in the UK, at 213 Piccadilly, London.

1880, Tea consumption per capita in Russia was now 1 lb per capita per annum, see 1800.

19/4/1880, Robert Fortune, who helped develop the Indian tea industry, died (born 16/9/1813)

1850, Tea was now as popular as coffee in Britain.

1840, Anna, Duchess of Bedford, introduced the idea of afternoon tea to Britain. During the 1700s the upper classes had tended to eat dinner ever later in the evening, which led to the creation of lunch to fill the long gap between breakfast and dinner. However this still left a long intervalbefore dinner whch was now as late as 7 � 9pm. Afternoon tea made a nice refreshment with sandwiches or cakes.

10/1/1839, Indian tea was auctioned for the first time in Britain. Previously, only expensive China tea had been available.

1835, First Tea plants taken from China for India.

1826, The first commercial packaged tea appeared in Britain, Horniman�s Tea, manufactured by Quaker, John Horniman, was sold in sealed packages partly to protect from adulteration.

1824, The Quaker John Cadbury opened a tea and coffee shop in Birmingham. This business later developed into the Cadbury confectionery company

16/9/1813, Robert Fortune, who helped develop the Indian tea industry, was born (died 13/4/1880)

1800, Tea drinking in Russia was restricted to the wealthy, who saw it as a status symbol; they consumed aboult 1 lb a year per capita. Overall annual consumption was 2 lb per capita. By 1900 this UK figure had risen to 10 lb per capita. See also Russia 1880.

1779, During the previous decade, 1770-79, England had imported some 18 million lbs of tea; about 2 lbs per head. Despite its expense it was good value because 1 lb of tea could make nearly 300 cups.

1685, Sales of tea, or �hay-water� as it was then known, started to take off in The Netherlands, as the people drank it for general consumption, not just as a medicinal tonic as previously. Tea demand in The Netherlands was now 20,000 lbs a year, against 200lbs for the whole of 1656.

1665, Tea in London cost �2.50 per pound (�5.63 per kg). This is equivalent to �813.20 per kg in 2015.

1657, The first tea auction in England.

8/12/1644, �China drink�, probably tea, was mentioned on a bill in Yorkshire, A bottle of it cost 4 shillings. It was initially viewed as a tonic for the sick.

1636, Tea first reached Paris.

1610, The first tea imports from China reached The Netherlands, brought in via Japan by the Dutch East India Company. It was initially seen mainly as a medicinal drink.

1598, Tea, then called �chaa�, from the Chinese name Chiai Catai, was first mentioned in England.

805, Tea was introduced to Japan, where it was used as a medicine.

708, Tea became popular as a drink in China; it was safer than cold water, which might be contaminated. Tea was also believed to have medicinal benefits.

2,737 BCE, Chinese legend attributes the discovery of tea to the Emperor Shennung.


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