Tea drinking has a 5,000 year history and one myth places the discovery to an incredibly precise date - 2737BC, with its inventor named as the Emperor Shen Nung. But the true history of tea is even more amazing. Keith Hathaway, member and volunteer guide of the Marble Hill Society, took members through the stages of development in China until tea drinking was encountered by Europeans and adopted in the 17th century. During his afternoon talk in the Great Room of Marble Hill, entitled The Exquisite Taste for Tea, Keith said, however, the British were slow to embrace their national drink. The Dutch had been tea addicts for 50 years before it came to England in 1657. But then Charles II's court enthused over it. Tea drinking spread through coffee houses, which were male preserves. Subsequently it spread to pleasure gardens such as Vauxhall and Ranelagh where all classes and sexes mingled quite freely and who adopted the elegant enthusiasms of the wealthy elite. One of those 18th century enthusiasms was drinking tea after a hard night's entertainment. It was the 18th century equivalent of clubbing.

Yet it was not without its dangers, as high prices and even higher taxation encouraged smuggling and adulteration. Keith went on to explore the British tea ceremony. Building on a series of images taken from 18th century paintings, he was able to illustrate many of the aspects of tea etiquette and customs in the 18th century. He showed how the exquisite taste for tea was enjoyed not only by the very rich but also by the very poorest.

Members were able to enjoy an excellent tea, including cakes made from Georgian recipes made by members of the society and also an opportunity to taste green and black teas popular in the Georgian era.