Amanda Rosso on Tea

One of the most iconic images of London, tea, is a part of culture and everyday life in England. While tea may seem trivial, an everyday object that is often over looked, it can be used to show English culture and trends.

Amanda Rosso, Collage, 2012.

Amanda Rosso, Collage, 2012.

This collage uses tea to project four different aspects of English culture and how they are both influenced and identified through the use of tea. First, the effects of England’s empire and foreign conquests in London can be seen in the importation of foreign teas in conjunction with the orientalism encompassing England at the time. The teapot shaped like a tribal hut shows an interest in foreign culture and the ways in which foreign cultures were stereotyped in London and throughout the rest of England.

Next, there is the presence of tea in pop-culture, emphasized by the logos for Harrods and major English tea companies – not only sold throughout England but the rest of the world as well, furthering the image of the English culture being one centered on tea. Gender roles were also enforced by the prominence of tea as women were expected to hold and enjoy tea parties and making and drinking tea became a societal expectation for women. Etiquette books on the subject were written and protocol was put in place, reinforcing the roles of women in English society from the Victorian era on.

Finally the collage depicts the ways in which tea contributed to class identification in England. Differences in ‘tea time’ and the quality of china and food served all suggested a level of class. Tea made by a working mother for a struggling family during the industrial revolution in London was served very differently from tea at the queen’s garden party every spring at Buckingham Palace. It is in these subtle ways that tea has become engrained  in British culture and is used to depict and define certain aspects of the culture.

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