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Article: Christmas Tea: A History

Christmas Tea: A History

Christmas Tea: A History

As we begin to approach the holiday season, many of you (like us) will be starting to think about what you might gift your loved ones this year, or how you can get into the festive spirit. Every year, we get particularly excited when our delivery of Gillards Christmas Tea makes its way to us, as this is a sure sign the festive period is well on its way. One thing we certainly love about the holiday season are all the gorgeous scents, and this tea brings them all into being with its cinnamon and vanilla notes.

This got us thinking about the origins of seasonal teas. Whilst it is not surprising to think about the ways in which people celebrated Christmas in the past with a little tipple, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Christmas tea started in response to those who enjoyed maybe a few too many tipples. Erika Rappaport, historian at the University of California, points out that Christmas was one of the rare occasions during the year that working-class men had time off, and many liked to use it to spend their hard earned wages drinking. 

As the temperance movement gained momentum in the 1830s, one of their main focuses was on Christmas and this tradition of getting rather merry. Members of the temperance movement, both in Britain and America, decided to combat the desire to consume alcohol by hosting large scale tea parties, where attendees would drink tea and eat food. As attendees did so, sermons would be read aloud about the disagreeableness of drunkenness.

Many historians have suggested this hosting of tea parties by the temperance movement in the early nineteenth century lead to the development of afternoon tea as we would more likely recognise it today. Indeed, the most significant change to the act of drinking tea during the festive period is that we now tend to opt for teas with holiday flavours, like cinnamon and vanilla. We think those who led the temperance movement would approve of this lasting link between tea, the festive period and family, although a little less our taste for bubbly! 

If this blog has got you thinking about the festive period, why not take a look at our popular Gillards Christmas Tea. If tea is not quite your thing, you can always get into the holiday spirit by browsing our Regency Christmas Decorations.

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 Gillards Christmas Tea

1 comment

By the regency era, tea was Britain’s favourite beverage. No longer did people have to drink ale with their breakfast! Jane Austen’s novels are full of references to tea. They provide us with first hand information about the tea customs of the day. You can find out how the novels relate to tea on my blog post at

Catherine Beaufort

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