The gastromythology of English tea culture: On the UKTC's advertisements and making tea a “fact” of English life

Chatterjee, Arup K. (2022) The gastromythology of English tea culture: On the UKTC's advertisements and making tea a “fact” of English life. Canadian Journal of History, 57 (1). pp. 47-80. ISSN 00084107

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In Victorian England, tea culture became “a fact of life” as advertising appropriated the imperial commodity’s surplus values, juxtaposing a semantics of English tea’s authenticity with a semiotics of its surplus enjoyment. This article makes a larger observation on English tea culture, with one of its leitmotifs as the United Kingdom Tea Company’s advertisements, which were published in leading periodicals such as The Illustrated London News, The Pall Mall Magazine, and The Graphic, between 1888 and 1900. Drawing on Roland Barthes’s notion of mythologies, I argue that the United Kingdom Tea Company’s advertisements, among others, reconfigured and standardized a gastromythology in English culture. As tea representations became sensualized, gendered, and racialized in English culture, they performed an aesthetically augmented reality to repress the memory of an erstwhile alien product while readily assimilating its identity into the larger fold of English imperialism. Literary and advertorial mythologems of tea drinking are entangled with how specific cultural and ideological mechanisms denominate and modulate culinary tastes and taste perception. Viewing English tea culture as benign expressions of individual or cultivated tastes is ultimately an aesthetic idealism that cannot go unchallenged.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Tea | Victorian culture | Gastromythology | Barthes | United Kingdom tea company | Advertising
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > History
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 04 May 2022 09:10
Last Modified: 04 May 2022 09:10
Official URL:


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