The first brief mentions of tea in Europe appear in the latter half of the 16th century in records kept by Portuguese traders and missionaries in the East.
The Dutch were the first to import tea. The first consignment of tea was shipped to Holland from the Java trading post in 1606. Tea quickly became fashionable with the Dutch, but due to the high cost of importing this sought-after beverage, it was a drink reserved for the wealthy.
The first dated reference to tea in England was in an advertisement in the London newspaper Mercurius Politicus, from September of 1658. The ad announced “China Drink, called by the Chinese Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee, was on sale at a coffee house in Sweeting’s Rents in the city”. Since the first coffee house opened in 1652, this ad indicated that tea was still a novelty in England.
In 1661, King Charles II married Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, an avid tea drinker. She brought tea to the court, making it fashionable among high society. The East India Company saw this increased demand, and began exclusively importing tea from Java.