A North Europe World of Tea: Scotland and the Tea Trade, c.1690–c.1790

Part of the Europe’s Asian Centuries book series (EAC)


At first glance, Scotland may not seem an obvious context for exploring the trends and tensions which characterized the importation, distribution and consumption of tea in eighteenth-century Europe. As a small, relatively underdeveloped kingdom on the outer edge of the North Sea world, Scotland had little direct experience of Asia, and indeed had liquidated its own short-lived East India Company as a precondition of union with England in 1707.1 Yet it is Scotland’s marginality to the early phase of Europe’s direct contact with Asia from c.1500 to c.1700, when juxtaposed with the country’s sudden inclusion thereafter within the monopoly market of the United English East India Company (EIC), which makes its interaction with Asian products so potentially illuminating. Scotland experienced the centuries of the Eurasia trades as one of extremes, moving from relative insulation from Asian commodities as late as around 1700 to a position where, by the 1770s, many commentators felt that Scottish society risked being fatally undermined by a welter of influences from the East.2


Eighteenth Century Statistical Account Taste Preference East India Company Monopoly Market 
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© Andrew Mackillop 2015

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