For purely practical purposes, we can say that tea, coffee and cocoa were brought to England at the same time in 1650. For the first time in its history, Christian Europe has found an alternative to alcohol. All three imported products are stimulants, all are brewed with hot boiled water, which freed the then serious problems of water-borne diseases; and all three require copious amounts of sugar. Sugar fad contributed to the consumption of coffee, tea and chocolate, which in turn contributed to the consumption of sugar. And the popularity of new stimulants increased in the same colonies, which proved to be very profitable due to the production of sugar in them. Tea, coffee and cocoa offered the possibility of changing crops cultivated in the colonies, and consequently, greater economic stability for both the colonies and the metropolis.
By 1820, thousands of tons of tea were imported to Europe annually (plus about another 30 million pounds consumed by the United Kingdom alone). Tea for the European market from the middle of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century was supplied from the Chinese seaside city of Canton. Tea purchasers were not allowed to penetrate inland, they were not devoted to any details of the cultivation and cultivation of this plant. According to Hobhouse, “all the historical humor about Europe is that for almost two centuries the goods were imported from a distance of half the world and that a huge industry has grown that includes 5% of all large-scale domestic production, but none the less knew anything about how to grow, make or mix tea. ”
Ignorance was not a barrier to the commercial exploitation of tea; but the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 was such a barrier. When the trade routes through the Eastern Mediterranean were in the hands of the Turks, the art of navigation and shipbuilding began to be subjected to considerable pressure in order to ease the way through the ocean to the East through the Cape of Good Hope. This path was opened in 1498 by Vasco da Gama.
When the Danish and Portuguese navigators finally reached the Molukki in Eastern Indonesia, then called the Spice Islands, spices became much cheaper in Europe, and the struggle for the creation of monopolies ensued among all parties. The type of organization most suitable for preserving the monopoly was a trading company – a group of traders who rallied to reduce the risk of investment and competition. Large, well-armed ships of various East India companies put an end to the era of captain merchants serving their own enterprise. The British East India Company, which was destined to become the most significant of the trading companies, was founded in 1600.
From that moment until 1834, when free trade liberals opened the tea trade to all interested parties, the company controlled the tea trade with tremendous benefits for it.
The British East Indies Company is believed to have charged at least a third of the price of tea, thus obtaining £ 100 per tonne of the 375,000 tons it imported during the eighteenth century. Behind this impressive figure is the increase in income of the East India Company from $ 17 million at the beginning of the century to an annual equivalent of $ 800 million in 1800. The East India Company was a powerful corporation, hated by both smugglers and consumers alike, a symbol of a selling and self-satisfied monopoly.