Business History Review
(First paragraph) In A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World, Erika Rappaport, specialist in British consumer culture, explores the influ- ence of the quintessential English beverage on the rise of mass markets and British identity. Drawing from a variety of research tradi- tions, including recent commodity studies, the author argues that tea was both a product of and a producer of empire. The commercial success of tea created powerful corporate entities with imperial ties, such as the English East India Company and Lipton’s. But, it was the practice of drinking tea that defined and transformed “Britishness.” Tea came to represent a civilizing force that brought together the mul- tiethnic and multinational aspects of Great Britain, connecting the homeland to its colonial peripheries of Africa, South Asia, and North America and illuminating “the intimate and social experience of impe- rialism,” even while maintaining inherent racial, gendered, and class hierarchies (p. 17).
Original Publication Citation
Merritt, J. T. (2018). A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World. Business History Review, 92(2), 361-362. doi: 10.1017/s0007680518000442
Merritt, Jane T., "A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World" (2018). History Faculty Publications. 32.