Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Tea Princess

Here she is - Infanta Catharina Braganza, Princess of Portugal. The island of Bombay formed part of her dowry when she married the English King Charles II.

You see, Charles II had inherited a lot of debts, and run up some more of his own, so a rich wife seemed like the perfect answer.

Catharina brought as part of her dowry, several ships laden with luxury goods which Charles sold to pay off his debts. He
also leased Bombay to the East India Company for ten gold pounds per annum (which led to the development of Bombay as a major shipping and trading centre).

In spite of a philandering husband, and several miscarriages, Catharina established herself well in the English court and became something of a trend-setter.

Her lasting legacy to England was tea (and you thought tea was a British thing?).

The shiploads she got as dowry included a large chest of tea. She was used to tea in her native Lisbon, where it was popular in elite circles.

She introduced tea-drinking to the English court, where it became something of a fad. From there, it spread to aristocratic circles and then to the wealthier classes, and finally acquired its popular status as a British institution!


NEEL said...

It was the Portuguese who gave us the word "Chai" !

Deepa Krishnan said...

cha is a chinese word.