How Tea Came to America | Tea History

Tea in the American Colonies

Tea in America

Tea was first introduced to North America in the 1600s into the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. It is said that Peter Stuyvesant brought the first teas to America.  This colony was later claimed by the English who renamed it New York. The English, of course, brought their tea traditions and customs that were common in England.

As more and more people began drinking tea, the settlers began installing water pumps in the area’s natural springs, making water readily available for tea. Then Tea Gardens began becoming popular at these springs, and they were sometimes called “tea springs.”

Other cities, including Philadelphia and Boston, began adapting the English style of tea drinking, and began heightening the experience with fancy silver and porcelain tea services that showcased their wealth and social status.

1700s Tea Trade Between America and England

In the 1720s, the tea trade between England and America was heavily taxed, and tea smuggling became prevalent since the East India Company had a monopoly on tea imports.  This unrest eventually led to American rebellion, and the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773 to protest the high taxes that England levied on tea. This is sometimes referred to as the beginning of America’s fight for independence. At night, colonists dressed as Native Americans boarded the East India Company’s ships in the Boston Harbor, opened up chests of tea, and dumped their contents into the water. This happened in other ports on the East coast as well.

1800s Clipper Ships Speed Tea Delivery

In the mid 1800s the Clipper Ships, built in America, helped speed the transportation of tea to America. Some ships could travel from Hong Kong to London in less than 100 days, and races to London became popular. Smugglers and blockade-runners also benefited.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea always wondered how tea became so popular in America. As she writes this, she enjoys her own cup of tea.

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