Right from the start tea has been a right royal affair. King Charles the Second’s wife, Catherine, is thought to have made it fashionable to sip tea in the mid 1600s although it came to Britain before then. And that may have helped reduce the consumption of ale, which was already taxed quite heavily, and lead to the tax on tea, or more precisely, to the tax on the coffee houses that sold it.
The tax on tea at it’s peak was well over a hundred percent! It wasn’t until the late 1700s that Prime Minister William Pitt was forced in effect to reduce the tax to just over ten percent. It seems the black market trade in tea was proving too lucrative, making the collection of the official tax almost worthless. The story doesn’t end there either, how tea has been taxed has had a significant impact on the British Empire!