As an avid tea drinker I remember seeing this at the ‘Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art’ exhibition at the British Library in 2010 and it was brought to memory today as I was supping on some of my special masala chai and thinking about how tea has travelled the world. In 1940, Britain was enduring one of the darkest periods of the Second World War. MacDonald Gill’s poster, issued by the International Tea Market Expansion Board during the Second World War, describes the historical and cultural importance of tea around the world. It is not only a celebration of Allied economic superiority, but a cheering rallying cry in time of war and conflict and a celebration of Britain’s adopted beverage. The underlying message is that tea can cure and unite a sick world.
A map of the world serves as the background for a series of tea facts and quotes. For example, just west of Portugal, one reads; “Queen Catherine going from Portugal to London to marry Charles II took TEA with her to console her future loneliness.” Referencing how tea found its way to England.
I really enjoyed this poster and the representation of the journey of tea around the world to many corners. It cleverly depicts how tea has infiltrated many societies and is now part of the every day. Particularly pertinent for my tea parties, an international series which serve tea from different parts of the world.