Was it tea that brought on the madness of King George and his eventual banishment to Kew Palace at the turn of the 19th century?
Dr. Willis, psychiatrist and guardian to George III during His Majesty’s debilitating illness and confinement at Kew Palace, suggested it was specifically Chinese tea that drove men mad.
As I’ve previously written, both King George and Queen Charlotte were avid tea drinkers. You can see their exquisite tea wares on display in their second-floor apartments at Kew Palace.
In A Treatise on those disorders of the brain and nervous system, which are usually considered and called mental, a Dr. Unwins considered Willis’s thesis and expands on the doctor’s diagnosis.
The treatise was published in the 1834 edition of The Medico-chirurgical Review.
Here are a couple of quotes from that paper:
Willis might be correct in one sense, but not in another. It is not the mere abstract poison of tea which deteriorates the nervous system—though there is something even in this,—but it is the accompaniments which tea brings with it that do the greatest mischief.