「Shanghai and the History of Black Tea」Because black tea was a wildly popular export, Shanghai went from a small fishing village to a booming metropolitan center.


In the 17th century, tea was very popular in the European first-class. After the 18th century Industrial Revolution in Britain, tea came to the middle-class as well. Britain imported tea leaves from the Chinese Qing Dynasty as well as china porcelain and silk products. Because the only export from Britain to China was clockwork, a large trade deficit against China occurred in Britain. In order to balance this deficit, Britain exported opium to China.

As a result of the opium trade, the Chinese trade deficit skyrocketed. Chinese inflation increased, finally resulting in the Qing Dynasty attempting to forcefully remove opium from Chinese lands. In 1840 an opium war burst between Britain and China, with China losing in 1842. Consequently, China was forced to open Hong Kong, Shanghai and 4 other ports. In 1860, the British general consulate arrived in Shanghai, and the Shanghai Waterfront became an British colony. Jardine Matheson and Gibb, Livingston & Co entered into China and began trading tea-leaves and silk. Shanghai at that time was near the economic center of China - Suzhou, critical point of the hub position, as the rapid development of foreign trade port in 1860 became the world's largest tea port.


The Time of Tea Clipper
When the British East India Company monopolized the tea trading , the transport of tea from China to London took one to two years. After such a long journey, the tea leaves lost most of their natural fragrance. Tea of such poor quality was mixed with higher-quality tea and some local flowers and fruits to increase its fragrance. Therefore, many different types of "blended teas" were put on the market at that time.

Since 1833, with the liberation of the tea trade, newcomers such as Gibb,Livingston & Co entered the tea trading business. With the abolishment of the British Sea Freight Treaty in 1849, American Clippers entered the Shanghai-London fleet. In December of 1850, these "Oriental" ships took only 95 days to sail from China to London, setting a new world record. For the first time in history, tea entered the London market the same year it was harvested. This tea was sold for record high prices. Subsequently, the so called "Tea Clippers" were in full bloom, racing to transport newly harvested tea to the British market, creating a period of mania among the tea exporters.

When the Cutty Sark (named after the Scottish whisky) entered the fleet in 1870, the route to Europe was significantly shorted with the formation of the Suez Canal. However, since the Suez Canal only allowed steam ships to enter, the era of the clippers became history.


Traditionally, everyone believed tea was only grown in East Asia. However, in 1825, the British discovered tea similar to that found in the Assam area of India. Since then, the British began to explore the production of tea in India. In 1840, the British successfully planted tea trees in the Darjeeling area of India. With such success, the British started to produce its own tea in India, and therefore reduced its reliance on tea import from China. India's black tea production surpassed China's for the first time in the early 20th century.

Assam tea leaves are large and thick, suitable for areas of high temperature and high humidity. Therefore, it also suits areas such as the Ceylon Islands. In the beginning of the 20th century, tea production began also in these areas, and therefore officially started the era of the popularization of Asian Black Tea.

China's production was drastically reduced due to war and domestic chaos. However, high quality Chinese black tea production has recovered since China opened its doors to the world with economic development.