The first ever importer of tea into Britain was a London merchant named Thomas Garraway. In the 1660s, tea began to be a fashionable drink in Britain, thanks to the wife of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, who was a tea drinker. Samuel Pepys mentioned his first ever taste of tea in his diary, in September 1660. In 1657, Garraway had printed a pamplet entitled An Exact Descripion of the Growth, Quality, and Virtues of the Leaf Tea. Long before the days when health claims had to be accurate, Garraway oversold the benefits of tea, to say the least, claiming the beverage to be a cure for just about anything.
It maketh the body active and lusty.
It helpeth the headache, giddiness and heaviness thereof.
It removeth the obstructions of the spleen.
It is very good against the stone and gravel, cleaning the kidneys and ureters, being drank with virgin’s honey, instead of sugar.
It taketh away the difficulty of breathing, opening obstructions.
It is good against tipitude, distillations, and cleareth the sight.
It removeth lassitude, and cleanseth and purifieth acrid humours, and a hot liver.
It is good against crudities, strengthening the weakness of the ventricle, or stomach, causing good appetite and digestion, and particularly for men of corpulent body, and such as are great eaters of flesh.
It vanquisheth heavy dreams, easeth the frame, and strengtheneth the memory.
It overcometh superfluous sleep, and prevents sleepiness in general; a draught of the infusion being taken, so that without trouble, whole nights may be spent in study, without hurt to the body, in that it moderately healeth and bindeth the mouth of the stomach.
It prevents and cures agues, surfets, and fevers, by infusing a fit quantity of the leaf, thereby provoking a most gentle vomit and breathing of the pores, and hath been given with wonderful success.
It (being prepaired and drank with milk and water) strengthenth the inward parts, and prevents consumption; and powerfully assuageth the pains of the bowels, or griping of the guts, and looseness.
It is good for colds, dropsys, and scurvys, if properly infused, purging the body by sweat and urine, and expelleth infection.
It driveth away all pains of the collick proceeding from wind, and purgeth safely the gall.
‘Virgin’s honey’ is honey that is taken from a honeycomb that has not had honey extracted before. I have drawn a blank on the word ‘tipitude’, a word I can find no reference to anywhere else. If anyone has any ideas on this I would welcome comments.