The East India Company had been trading regularly with the Chinese since the early 1700s, shipping increasing amounts of tea back to Britain. By the end of the century tea accounted for more than 60 percent of the Company's total trade. The British demand for the drink boomed.
In Britain, throughout the 18th century, there were numerous debates over the new craze for tea. Many believed that tea had medicinal properties, while others warned against the cost of such a frivolous luxury. The author of 'The Good and Bad Effects of Tea Consider'd' follows both lines of thought: on the one hand tea consumed without milk or sugar can act as a medicinal remedy; on the other hand, tea is an expensive 'evil' in which poor families cannot afford to indulge.
About the India Office trading documents
This is part of a collection of documents from the British Library's India Office, all of which relate to British trade with Asia from the late 1600s to the 1800s. The East India Company's first ships arrived in Bengal in 1608. By the end of the 17th century the company had factories, forts and settlements in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It was importing cotton, silk and indigo, and making inroads into the Dutch domination of the spice trade.
Early in the 18th century, Company ships began to sail onward to Canton and the trade in tea ('cha') and porcelain ('China ware') began. From this time on the East India Company became more of a ruling power than a trading company in India, with the increasing involvement of the British government. A period of progressive domination and annexation followed so that, by 1858, when the East India Company was dissolved and the administration of India was taken over by the Crown, Britain controlled India, Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong.