What’s All the Fuss? Part II

By Stephanie Hanson

To pick up where we left off, in 1773, the Americans had become “frenetic tea drinkers.” They were also extremely independently-minded after having been largely left to their own devices since the arrival of the first settlers nearly two centuries earlier.

Scene from the French and Indian War

They considered themselves British citizens, but had enjoyed a very low rate of taxation and War. The French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Year’s War) cost the British Crown a fortune that had to be repaid somehow. Inhabitants of the British Isles were already under a tax burden many times larger than the colonists, so the Crown decided that it was only fitting that the colonists should shoulder some of the expenses of the war that had been fought, after all, to defend them. Only, it was rather like trying to rein in a teenager by giving them a curfew after they have become accustomed to keeping their own hours.

As any student of American history is aware, boycotts and riots greeted taxation. The Crown kindly responded by lifting all of the hated taxes, except for one: tea.

Along with this tax came ships full of tea. In Boston, they threw the tea overboard. In New York and Philadelphia, the tea never even made it to the customs house. Ships’ captains were threatened. Ships turned around. And the American colonists turned their back on tea. Some found it more difficult than others, and snuck tea behind the backs of the Committees of Correspondence, who would destroy tea where they found it.

Others found substitutes, such as herbal tisanes called “Liberty Teas.” Then, there was also coffee and chocolate, which did not come via Britain and therefore were available even during the Revolutionary War. As a result, the new Americans became a nation of coffee drinkers. A war fought, in part, because of tea, was also responsible for knocking tea out of first place in the new United States.

Find more great articles at Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!

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