Tea History in America

Tea was first brought to North America by the Dutch in the 17th Century.  The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was acquired by the English who renamed the settlement New York and passed on many of the tea drinking customs that were common in England.  As tea drinking spread, special water pumps were installed in natural springs.  With water now readily available for making tea, Tea Gardens became popular at these “tea springs”.  The cities of Boston and Philadelphia adopted the English style of tea drinking and their use of fancy silver and porcelain tea products symbolized their wealth and elite social status. 


Tea trade between the English colonies and England were centered in these major cities during the 1720s.  Tea was heavily taxed and tea smuggling was as prevalent as it was in England due to the East India Company’s monopoly on tea imports.  One tax in particular, the tea tax passed by an Act of Parliament in 1767, caused even more dissent and rebellion among the American colonists.  American ports began refusing shipments of dutiable goods, including teas, causing ships to turn around with their cargo in some cases.  The Tea Act of 1773 which was intended to boost profits for the East India Company by bypassing local tea merchants and selling tea directly to the colonists was the last and final straw.


The Boston Tea Party

The colonists firmly objected to accepting and consuming taxed tea.  Members of the political group the Sons of Liberty in Boston, led by Samuel Adams, plotted to raid an upcoming shipment of tea and prevent the tea from being unloaded.    On December 16, 1773, the same night Sons of Liberty planned their raid, a group of protesters got the idea to dump the tea into Boston Harbor.  The protestors disguised as Mohawk Indians, along with the Sons of Liberty and a large crowd of Bostonians, boarded three British East India Company ships, the Eleanor, Dartmouth and Beaver.  Over three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. This event marked the beginning of the American Revolution.


American Tea Inventions

Tea has had a significant impact in American history and our resulting freedoms have led to some interesting American tea inventions that have contributed to modern day tea drinking as we know it. In 1904 at America’s first World’s Fair, iced tea made its debut.  Richard Blechynden had the novel idea of serving his brewed tea on ice since no one was interested in drinking hot tea during the summer heat wave.  Also, Thomas Sullivan of New York is credited for inventing the tea bag. This tea merchant packaged loose teas in hand-sewn silk muslin bags and shipped around the world.  In delivering the bags of tea to local restaurants, he saw that they were brewing the tea while still in the bags and began marketing tea bags as a new, convenient and less messy way of preparing tea.  If you like using tea bags, try Teavana’s tea filters with any of our high quality loose leaf teas.   

Tea History in America