Tea's American Adventure

In the 1600's the Dutch ruled New Amsterdam (now known as New York).  In 1647 Governor Peter Stuyvesant arrived to New Amsterdam and brought tea into America via the Dutch East India Company. 

Dutch settlement in new amsterdam
Dutch settlement in New Amsterdam
The Dutch loved their tea and the tea tray, tea table, teapots, sugar bowl, silver spoons, and strainer were the pride of the Dutch household in the New World.
Dutch family drinking tea in america
Shortly after the English took back control of New Amsterdam but their love of tea became widespread with a million cups per year being consumed.
Tea was imported by the The British East India Company.   

In 1717, the British East India Company established a trading post in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), China, which allowed them to purchase tea directly from Chinese merchants. This made tea more affordable and accessible to British consumers, who quickly developed a taste for the beverage. In order to promote tea consumption in its colonies, the British East India Company began to heavily advertise and market tea to Americans.

Tea quickly became a popular beverage among the wealthy and elite in America. It was a symbol of sophistication and status, and many wealthy Americans began to incorporate tea into their social rituals and gatherings. In fact, tea parties became a popular social event among wealthy women in the colonies, providing an opportunity for women to gather, socialize, and discuss politics.

The Boston Tea Party

Despite its popularity, tea consumption in America came to a sudden halt in 1773 with the famous Boston Tea Party. The event was a protest against the British government's taxation policies, which had imposed a tax on tea in the colonies without their representation in Parliament. On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists, disguised as Native Americans, boarded three British ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.

The Boston Tea Party was a pivotal moment in American history, and it marked the beginning of the American Revolution. It also had a significant impact on tea consumption in America, as many Americans began to boycott British tea in protest of the tax.

The Boston Tea Party

Tea During and After the American Revolution

During the American Revolution, tea consumption in America declined significantly. The British blockade of American ports made it difficult to import tea, and many Americans began to turn to locally produced substitutes such as herbal teas and coffee.

After the war, tea consumption in America gradually began to pick up again. However, Americans were hesitant to resume their reliance on British tea, and many began to seek out alternative sources of tea from other countries.

In 1784, the first American ship to trade directly with China, the Empress of China, set sail from New York City. The ship carried a cargo of furs, ginseng, and silver, and returned with a cargo of tea, porcelain, and silk. This marked the beginning of a new era of trade between America and China and paved the way for the establishment of American tea companies.

American Tea Companies

In the early 1800s, American tea companies began to emerge, seeking to capitalize on the growing demand for tea in America. One of the most successful of these companies was Thomas Lipton, who established a chain of tea shops throughout America and Europe.

Lipton Tea

Another notable American tea company was Bigelow Tea, which was founded in 1945 by Ruth Campbell Bigelow. The company was the first to introduce flavoured teas to the American market, including its popular Constant Comment tea.

Tea in Modern-Day America

Today, tea is a popular beverage in America, with a wide variety of teas available in supermarkets, specialty tea shops, and online retailers. Tea consumption has increased significantly in recent years, as Americans have become more health-conscious and interested in natural remedies and alternative medicine. In fact, many studies have shown that tea has numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

One of the most popular types of tea in America is iced tea, which was invented in the early 1900s in the southern United States. Today, iced tea accounts for more than 80% of all tea consumed in America and is particularly popular during the summer months.

iced tea - a popular american drink

Iced Tea can come in a huge variety of flavours

Another trend in modern-day America is the growing popularity of specialty teas, including matcha, rooibos, and yerba mate. These teas are often marketed as superfoods, with numerous health benefits and unique flavours.

The history of tea in America is a fascinating one, filled with cultural, social, and political significance. From its early beginnings as a luxury item consumed by the elite, to its role in the American Revolution, to its present-day popularity as a healthy beverage enjoyed by millions, tea has played a significant role in shaping America's history and culture. As we continue to explore new flavours and varieties of tea, it's clear that the legacy of this ancient beverage will continue to be felt for generations to come.