An exhibition has been launched at St Albans Musuem + Gallery celebrating the fascinating journey of tea from leaf to cup.

'Time for Tea', which opens today (May 19), explores the worldwide significance of the popular beverage, and why it is so entrenched in British culture.

The free exhibition, held in the Weston Gallery, will run until November 5 - and includes complementary, immersive activities.

Believed to be brought to Europe by Dutch traders in the 1600s, tea was a favourite of Princess Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II, who set the trend for drinking tea which continues to this day.

Tea appears across literature, TV and pop culture, including at the Mad Hatter's tea party, served by penguins in Mary Poppins and enjoyed by Downton's Lady Violet Crawley.

The exhibition will take visitors through what tea is, how it comes to the UK and how it is packaged, stored, made and drank.

Herts Advertiser: The Time for Tea exhibition will be held at St Albans Museum GalleryThe Time for Tea exhibition will be held at St Albans Museum Gallery (Image: St Albans Museums)

Visitors can learn about how different cultures enjoy tea - as well as see a community-sourced display of people's favourite tea mug.

Sarah Keeling, curator of post medieval to contemporary art at St Albans Museums, said: "We are delighted to bring this wonderful exhibition to St Albans.

"Time for Tea celebrates the nation’s love affair with tea exploring its history, how it’s made, drunk and its significance across the world. 

"Visitors can also enjoy a nostalgic look at the tea houses and cafés St Albans has been home to in the past.


"There will be engaging imagery, including 'A Tea Party at Napsbury' by artist Louis Wain, beautiful displays of ornate tea bowls and decorative teapots from our collection, and after a wander through the exhibition visitors can relax with a cuppa in the museum’s Courtroom Café."

In addition to the exhibition, there will be a range of family activities, talks, creative workshops and a Georgian Costume Ball on Saturday, August 26, held in the museum's Georgian assembly room.

Guests are invited to wear modern day formal attire or an outfit befitting 18th century Georgian society, and there will be live music, dancing and canapés.

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