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January 24, 2013

Lets Take Tea With Jane Austen

Thursday Thirteen

During a recent visit to the local library, I came across a copy of Tea With Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. I’m a big fan of tea, so I picked up the book and checked it out.

Thirteen Things About Jane Austen and Tea

1. Jane Austen was responsible for making the family breakfast each morning and also the morning pot of tea.

2. Tea was very expensive during Jane’s time and was kept locked away to avoid pilfering by the servants.

3. Young ladies of the time used to decorate tea caddies with filigree work (rolled strips of paper applied in decorative patterns)

4. Jane took sugar in her tea, but probably not milk. The sugar was also locked up due to its expensive nature.

5. The sugar came in large cone-shaped loaves and someone had to break it up before it could be used. Sugar cubes came much later.

6. Shopping was different in Jane’s time. For example if she wished to buy tea she could buy it from a pedlar, she could walk to the local shops or wait until she visited a larger town or city.

7. Visits to the city were rare. Whenever Jane visited the city, friends and family would give her a list of their requirements and errands. Items such as jewellery and material were common additions to Jane’s list.

8. During Jane’s time a pound of tea sold for six shillings. Better quality tea fetched even higher prices. This was double the wages received by unskilled workers.

9. The quality of the tea varied widely. Legal tea was usually a decent quality as was smuggled tea, although it sometimes smelled a little of horse. Some tea was adulterated, which could be quite dangerous.

10. Some shops, such as dressmakers and milliners, offered tea to their customers. Tea contributed to a genteel atmosphere.

11. Twinings tea warehouse on The Strand probably hasn’t changed much in appearance since Jane’s visits to purchase fresh tea.

12. Riding in a carriage was considered exercise. Sometimes it was difficult to remain in a seat due to the bone-jarring roads. Tea was often the first refreshment called for on arrival at a destination.

13.  Gentlemen and some ladies too, took to spiking their tea with spirits, especially in the morning after a hard night. If that didn’t work to fix a hangover, they’d move on to normal tea.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which one of her novels is your favorite?


  1. Mary Kirkland

    I’ve tried reading the books and just never got into them. Not my cup of tea..so to speak.

    • Shelley Munro

      I’ll be honest – I haven’t read the books either, but the time period fascinates me, hence this post. :)

  2. Stephanie Sullivan

    Wonderful list, Shelley! I LOVE Jane Austen (and tea too). :) Happy Thursday.

    • Shelley Munro

      The combination worked well in the book. It was a fascinating read.

  3. Anthony North

    As a lover of classics and daily drinker of tea, enjoyed this.

    • Shelley Munro

      Thanks, Anthony. I’m a big tea drinker too, which is why the title grabbed my attention.

  4. Angela Brown

    The things we can run across about tea and Jane Austen. Hmmm…

    • Shelley Munro

      Jane Austen is everywhere these days. Whether it’s in books like this or she’s been turned into a vampire or a zombie hunter. A very popular lady.

  5. Heather

    With the high price of tea, it’s easy to understand why the working class latched on to coffee. I’m not big on tea, but do like Jane Austen. My least favorite is Emma, and I will be rereading Northanger Abbey in February for a group read at GR. It’s been a long time since I read that one, so am looking forward to it.

  6. Nas

    Hi Shelley!

    Wow! Interesting information. I have some Jane Austen’s on TBR. Couldn’t really get into the one I started so it still is on TBR!

  7. Ron.

    Tea drinkers are a cult. I’m a member.
    Cool 13.

  8. CountryDew

    I think most people do not realize that tea did not come in little bags, or even in loose cannisters, long ago. Much of it came in hard bricks, which were then scraped. I learned that at Colonial Williamsburg. The bricks of tea were displayed with pride on settler’s mantles, because it indicated wealth. Wikipedia has some photos of tea bricks. I was fascinated with this information. Thanks for the opportunity to share it!

  9. Savannah Chase

    I’m starting to become a big tea lover…

  10. Adelle Laudan

    I love researching for a new novel. There
    is always so much to learn. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop. lol I have several books from this time era but must confess to only reading halfway through Jane Austen. I think it’s the dialect that deters me.
    Fun lists of facts. Happy T13!

  11. Brinda

    I drink tea occasionally. I more into my coffee fix. Tea for hangovers? That makes me a little nauseous.

  12. kay

    LOVE your list … always fun to learn new things … must run to set the kettle on now :)