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Scottish Tea

During the eighteenth century another drink apart from whisky was taking the place of ale, one which might have been thought harmless enough, but which in fact seems to have aroused more general spleen than that occasioned by whisky. That drink was, of course, tea. So far as is known, it was introduced towards the end of the seventeenth century, and at first its correct use seems to have been a mystery to many, some ladies for example offering the tea-leaves to visitors on buttered bread. Graham writes: " The fashion of tea drinking, becoming common about 1720, had to make its way against fierce opposition. The patriotic condemned tea as a foreign drink hurtful to national industry; the old-fashioned protested against it as a new-fangled folly; the robust scorned it as an effeminate practice; magistrates and energetic laymen put it in the same malignant category as smuggled spirits."

But despite, or perhaps because of, all this antagonism, it becomes apparent that within a few decades the ladies have been won over and are in no way reluctant to leave the gentlemen to their port and repair to their 'dish of tea'. The afternoon tea meal begins to be surrounded with great elegance, not to mention many baked dainties, and the Scottish afternoon teas become, among the
wealthier classes at least, as famous as their sumptuous breakfasts.

As living standards began slowly to rise during the eighteenth century, the common people too began to develop a taste for the new, fashionable beverage, tea. The Statistical Account for Crieff reads: " Above twenty times more tea is used now than twenty years ago. Bewitched by the mollifying influence of an enfeebling potion, the very poorest classes begin to regard it as one of the necessaries of life, and for its sake resign the cheaper and more invigorating nourishment which the productions of this country afford."

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