History of English Tea Discover the fascinating history of this much–loved beverage! Tea was first introduced to England in the 17th century. At first it was used for medicinal purposes and sold in London’s early coffee houses. Only when Catherine of Braganza (an avid tea drinker) of Portugal married England’s Charles II did tea become a social beverage. In 1840, Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford is credited with inventing the custom of Afternoon Tea, a tradition that was embraced by Queen Victoria. Understand the difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea and learn proper tea etiquette and customs.