Until the sixteenth century, sugar was imported from Brazil, the Azores and the Canary Islands at great expense. When supplies began to come from the West Indies, the price was brought down by half. Figures for 1660 show sugar consumption in England to be an average of approximately 2 lbs. per person per year. By the end of the century, this figure had doubled, and the increase may well have been caused by an increased consumption of tea and coffee as well as the wider use of sugar in sweetmeats and desserts.
Not everybody thought that this heavy use of sugar in tea was reasonable. Englishman John Ovington wrote:
“Yet some will urge that although these Virtues which I have mention’d may be fairly attributed to this China Liquor, yet are they sometimes obstructed by the use of that Sugar which is commonly mix’d with it. And this indeed, I must confess, may somewhat abate the Efficacy of it in some Operations; yet this Advantage it produces, in benefiting the Lungs and Reins [kidneys]; to which it is a mighty Friend.”