The great age of ocean navigation in the 16th century was also the age of the encounter of eastern and western civilizations. It was the time when the eastern style of drinking tea was first brought to Europe. An early record shows that tea was brought from Japan to the Netherlands in 1610.
Soon tea came to be widely drunk in Europe and large quantities were imported from China. Tea drinking spread not only to Europe but also to Russia and India. In 18th century Britain tea became an important drink among the upper classes, especially among women. It is interesting to see that one third of the tea imported into Britain was green tea and two thirds was black tea. In other words, green tea was imported at first but before long it was mainly black tea, which was of reliable quality and which had an acidic aroma, that was imported. In Britain the custom of drinking tea with the added luxuries of milk and sugar completed the culture of tea drinking. The culture of tea in Britain symbolized by today's 'afternoon tea' was perfected.

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