Friday 17 August 2018

Book Review: Tea & Coffee in the Age of Dr Johnson (Non-Fiction/History)

Title: Tea & Coffee in the Age of Dr Johnson
Author: Stephanie Pickford (ed.)
Dr Johnson House Trust

Publication Date: 2008

Samuel Johnson declared himself 'a hardened and shameless tea drinker ... whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning.'

Johnson was said by friends to have consumed 25 cups of tea in one sitting, and even went into print to defend his favourite beverage. He was also known to frequent London's famed coffee-houses, 'the constant Rendezvous for Men of Business, as well as the idle People, so that a Man is sooner ask'd about his Coffee-House than his Lodgings'. However, not all approved of these exotic new drinks ...

This beautifully illustrated booklet comprises a collection of essays presenting a fascinating slice of the history of these two great beverages. Find out what it was like to walk into a Georgian coffee-house, what the 'contagion of china-fancy' was, and why tea was once regarded as a menace to the nation.

Tea and Coffee in the Age of Dr Johnson is an interesting read, with the various short essays each highlighting a different aspect of tea and coffee trade and consumption in the eighteenth century. One for keen historians or historical fiction writers looking to set books in the era, it's not an exhaustive account, but it offers an entertaining overview and will point you on to further areas of research.

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