A tea lady brings round refreshments for British office workers in the 1970s. All over the U.K., the arrival of the tea ladies with trolleys loaded with a steaming tea urn and a tray of cakes or buns was the high point of the workday. M. Fresco/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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In 1747, members of the notorious Hawkhurst Gang carried out a brazen midnight raid on the King's Custom House in Poole, England: They broke in and stole back their impounded tea. What followed over the next weeks would shock even hardened criminals. E. Keble Chatterton - King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855/Wikimedia Commons hide caption

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Loose-leaf green tea of the modern variety. Archaeologists have discovered ancient tea in the tomb of a Chinese emperor who died in 141 B.C. It's the oldest known physical evidence of tea. But scientists aren't sure if the emperor was drinking tea as we know it or using it as medicine. iStockphoto hide caption

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The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans began holding afternoon tea in 1984. A representative says the hotel held daily afternoon tea times until Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It still serves afternoon tea a few days a week. Sara Essex Bradley/Windsor Court Le Salon hide caption

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For centuries, tea drinking has been synonymous with female tittle-tattle — even though men drank just as much tea. Old dictionaries of English slang provide colorful proof of this association. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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A view of Canton (Guangzhou), on the Pearl River in China, circa 1840. Canton was already a great trading port when the American ship Empress of China arrived in 1784 to fill up its hold with tea. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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"For most of the 19th century, there was less concern about the perils of taking cocaine than there was about the negative side effects of drinking green tea," says author Matthew Sweet. The backlash against green tea was caused by a mix of baseless fears (that it triggered hysteria and insomnia) and genuine concerns about it being toxic as a result of widespread adulteration. McKay Savage/Flickr hide caption

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Make mine a venti: An example of a drinking vessel from the Grasshopper Pueblo archaeological site in central Arizona. Researchers tested shards of similar vessels found at various sites in the American Southwest and found evidence that people in the region were drinking caffeinated cacao and yaupon holly drinks 1,000 years back. Courtesy Patricia Crown hide caption

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Joseph Severn's portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley. The radical 19th century poet practiced the politics of the plate. For Shelley and other liberals of his day, keeping sugar out of tea was a political statement against slavery. Joseph Severn/Wikimedia hide caption

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Yaupon growing in the wild in east Texas. This evergreen holly was once valuable to Native American tribes in the Southeastern U.S., which made a brew from its caffeinated leaves. Murray Carpenter for NPR hide caption

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Here's The Buzz On America's Forgotten Native 'Tea' Plant

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Christopher Day, the dining room manager at Eleven Madison Park, is also the man behind its tea program. "My goal has always been to put together a tea list with the same standard and rigor as you would with wine," he says. Kathy YL Chan for NPR hide caption

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A quartet of tea-infused treats. Clockwise from left: Pastry chef's Naomi Gallego's old-fashioned doughnuts, flavored with Earl Grey; chocolate custard infused with jasmine tea, topped with a whipped cream ganache with a bit of lemon; berry scones with a hint of black berry tea; and blue French-style macarons made with lapsang souchong. Allison Aubrey/NPR hide caption

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Afternoon Tea, 1886. Chromolithograph after Kate Greenaway. If you're looking for finger sandwiches, dainty desserts and formality, afternoon tea is your cup. Print Collector/Getty Images hide caption

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Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi (right) receives a bowl of green tea from Japanese tea master Genshitsu Sen at a tea ceremony in Kyoto during a 2013 visit to Japan. STR/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In the Blue Zone of Okinawa, Japan, locals drink green tea with jasmine flowers and turmeric called shan-pien, which translates to "tea with a bit of scent." David McLain/Courtesy of Blue Zones hide caption

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A Hindu servant serves tea to a European colonial woman in the early 20th century. The British habit of adding tea to sugar wasn't merely a matter of taste: It also helped steer the course of history. Underwood & Underwood/Corbis hide caption

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An illustration from a book published in 1851 depicts the cultivation of tea in China. In the mid-19th century, China controlled the world's tea production. That soon changed, thanks to a botanist with a penchant for espionage. Internet Archive hide caption

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