In the mid-19th century, increased demand for tea in Europe and America put pressure on merchants to complete voyages from China to market as quickly as possible. While conservative ship engineers were not yet ready to let go of their cherished "cod's head and mackerel tail" merchant vessels, the success of the Ann McKim, a Baltimore Clipper, suggested that a new era of ship design was on the horizon. Unhindered by convention, younger designers, especially those in the United States, began to experiment with modified hull shapes to increase the speed of their vessels.
The Rainbow, the Houqua, and the Oriental surprised members of the tea trade throughout the world. These "extreme clippers," named for their drastic modifications in hull shape, mast location, and size, demonstrated to ship designers in England that they could no longer rely on traditional ship design if they were to compete in the booming tea trade with China.
"Upton Tea Imports was founded in 1989 with the objective of providing the North American tea drinker with
the finest teas available. We purchase teas from reputable brokers and estates worldwide, dealing only with
sources who are capable of providing top quality teas. We sell directly to the consumer, thus ensuring the
freshest product and fairest pricing."