The taste for sugar in tea developed in Europe toward the end of the seventeenth century and became more common in Britain than elsewhere. The custom is not thought to have come from China with the first imported teas, as the Chinese very rarely drank their tea with sugar. Only a few regions of China added sugar, the most notable being the Bohea Mountains where yellow rock sugar was stirred into the beverage.
The British liking for sweetened drinks grew so that by the late eighteenth century, consumption of sugar by the British was ten times greater than in France and other European countries. Tea spoons, spoon trays, sugar bowls, and sugar tongs became a standard part of tea equipage and the fashion traveled with emigrants to North America.
Tea specialists recommend that tea is drunk without sugar as it tends to kill the flavor of the liquor, but in Britain, many people still add one or two teaspoonfuls to a cup of tea.