Cost of Tea in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Other than taxes, three other business factors that influenced the cost of tea during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were quality, demand, and competition. Quality was the main factor that influenced the price of tea at the time. Teas that were produced in Asia, specifically around East India, Ceylon, and China fetched high prices since they grew in good climates and fertile soils that guaranteed their rich flavors (Day, 2017). Also, finely plucked tea leaves resulted in high quality tea that was priced higher than coarsely plucked tea, which was of greater quantity but lower quality. Demand also influenced tea prices at the time. In the sixteenth century, tea was only consumed by the British elite, but by the eighteenth century, it was a common beverage in British households (Day, 2017). As demand for tea increased, so did its market price. Lastly, competition was a major factor that influenced tea pricing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After the introduction of tea taxes, Dutch traders began smuggling tea into the British market (Day, 2017). This increased competition from Dutchmen caused the prices of tea to decrease. Correspondingly, the increased supply of tea due to Dutch smugglers provided some kind of balance for the increased demand, facilitating relatively constant tea prices.
Day, A. F. (2017). Empire of tea: The Asian leaf that conquered the world. World, 20(1), 178-179.