With prices for tea remaining high throughout the early 18th century and the passion for it growing, poets and essayists summed up popular attitudes of the day. Many praised tea, recommending it for health reasons, as London tea merchant Thomas Garway had done a hundred years before. Some pointed out its benefits as an alternative to alcohol. In 1708, in The Lady’s Last Stake, Colley Cibber called it “Thou soft, Thou sober, sage and venerable liquid,” while Duncan Campbell, in his Poem Upon Tea, 1735, praised tea as a far better choice than alcohol, especially for women:
Tea is the Liquor of the Fair and Wise;
It chears the Mind without the least Disguise:
But Wine intoxicates, and wrongs each Sense;
Sweet innocent, mild Tea, gives no Offence:
It makes the Blood run sporting in the Veins,
Refines each Sense, and rectifies the Brains.
Religious leader John Wesley, however, was initially against the use of tea. In his Letter to a Friend Concerning Tea written in 1748, he pronounced that tea impaired the digestion, unstrung the nerves, involved great expense, and induced symptoms of paralysis. Although a tea drinker himself, he claimed that it made his hands shake. In 1746, he called a meeting of his London Society of Methodists and put to them a proposal that they should give up tea for the sake of temperance. They apparently followed his advice.