My friend is a British tea lover. She told me there is a tea clipper ship in the London Docklands. So one hot summer day in July I came to Greenwich to visit the glorious ship Cutty Sark. The Clipper was the fastest class of sailing ship before steam engines and the Suez canal changed the world of shipping lanes forever. The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 to supply considerable demand from Britain where the average person would drink 1.9kg of tea per year. The Cutty Sark shipped 593,551kg for her first journey from China to London.
During my visit I discovered how much the British loved Asian tea when then caused a war in China when the price of tea was thought to be too high (apparently). I learned a lot about the history of tea trading through the various exhibits in this ship.
Entering the lower decks the wooden museum tea chest decorations fire branded with the tea company logos really brought to life the size of the cargo hold. Video animations showing voyages through the shipping lanes and how the Cutty Sark set sea speed records for international trading in the 19th century are very interesting. When the Cutty Sark completed her final tea trading voyage we see her next chapter of life transporting wool and even a piano. There are other more stories about her on the middle deck and an interactive game which had the classroom visitors hooked. On the top deck, I experienced how the crew lived on the ship months at a time as the original quarters below decks were thought to be badly designed. There was even a man dressed in 19th costume recounting tall tales of sea adventures.
Finally you can experience what happened in the 20th century when she became a training ship for young naval officers and hosted members of the royal family. What a fantastic life with so many miles travelled and it all started because of tea.