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Netherlands and Tea

Dutch East India Company had played important role of introducing tea to European countries. Before 1669 British East India Company became powerful and dealt all the tea trade, Dutch East India Company was controlling the world tea trade including the porcelain products like tea cups and pots. Dutch East India Company(V.O.C) was found in 1602, and given the high authority such as closing the world treaty or tracking the self-defense war. It was the first corporation ever in the world history. When tea was just started to export to Europe, it was extremely expensive valuable and they only drank by nobility. By 1637, wealthy people also started to drink tea. And the Dutch East India Company ordered all the ships to ship the tea. By 1660, the drinking tea habit spread to the through out the Holland. Among the nobility and wealthy it became popular to make own tearoom in their castles or houses. According to the invoice record between 1698 to 1700, we can tell 4.24 percent of total importing was actually tea and coffee. Tea was also introduced to America by the Dutch people for the first time. Fancy tea pots and cups were also exported to Europe along the tea mainly from Jingduqin in China. Porcelain products from Japan "Imariyaki" were also exported to Europe around that time. The first shipment with total of 145 Imariyaki items was shipped in 1650 from the port of Nagasaki. The exporting amount of Imariyaki to Europe increased to 56700 after 9 years. It is reported that 60,000 porcelain products were exported from Japan through Dutch East India Company during the Edo period. However, the smuggling trade was very common at the time, so it was more likely 100,000 items were exported to Europe. Products were shipped to Amsterdam and sold to nobility and wealthy throughout the Europe. Many of the nobility and wealthy started to collect the porcelain products. Tremendous collections were still able to see in Scharlottenburg castle in Germany. The beauty of porcelain products attracted people in Europe and motivate them to make own porcelain. Not only Meissen but also other porcelain studios tried to make products with design of Imariyaki. By importing large amount of tea, porcelain and spices from East, Dutch East India Company made significant profits and Amsterdam became a wealthy International city. Even now, there are still many things you can see to remind the flourishing time in Amsterdam.

(Takahiro Moritake)