AT four bob a bottle, you’d have had to live somewhere grand to afford a cup of tea during the English civil war.
So it is perhaps not a surprise to learn that its earliest imbibers may have been the occupants of the splendid Temple Newsam House on the outskirts of Leeds.
The discovery of a primitive shopping list from there, containing an order for what was then known as “China drink”, is as exciting in its own way as one of those archeological goldstrikes in the Wolds – not least because the item appears to pre-date the better-known reference to tea by Samuel Pepys in 1660.
It demonstrates once more that history lies as much in the travails of workaday life as in the archives of Hansard or the London Gazette, and the archivists at Temple Newsam have done us a small service by letting us glimpse the lives of a generation less obsessed than ours with recording their every move.
Those first tea folk could scarcely have imagined that one day we would all be enjoying Yorkshire Tea.