MacDonald 'Max' Gill – A Digital Resource

Chapter 11: The World of Tea

A colourful drawn map of the world showing countries and their tea consumption

“Tea Revives the World” poster (1940). Private collection.

For centuries, tea has played a key role in people’s lives. It is probably the world’s most popular beverage and provides the perfect excuse for taking a break or welcoming guests. Once an exotic delicacy, reserved only for the wealthy, it eventually became the drink that everybody could afford. By the mid 19th Century, fleets of square-rigged clipper ships like the Cutty Sark were regularly shuttling between Britain and the Far East, their holds packed with bales of tea.

To help promote sales, the International Tea Market Expansion Board was formed in the 1930s by a group of tea companies operating in India, Ceylon and modern-day Indonesia. Three maps were commissioned from Max Gill and the last one, produced in 1940, became part of the war effort. ‘Tea Revives the World’ appeared as a hoarding 20 ft by 10 ft and implied a determination by the Allies to ‘keep calm and carry on’. At the height of the London Blitz, it echoed the very British belief that ‘a nice cuppa’ is the best thing to have in a crisis.

A colourful drawn map showing Ceylon and its tea industry

“Map of Ceylon Showing Her Tea Industry” poster (Sri Lanka, 1933). Produced for the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board. Private collection.

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Sirpa Kutilainen • November 12, 2015

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