Loose Leaf Tea in the United States – A Short History

The market for loose leaf tea in the United States is growing strongly as tea drinkers from all walks of life rediscover the taste, health benefits and value of loose leaf tea.

But one must ask the question: why is loose leaf tea less popular in the United States than in the rest of the world? The answer lies in the combination of the political and economic history of our country and the presence of the low quality tea bag.

The Colonies Reject Loose Leaf Tea

Although tea drinking originated in China, consumption of tea based on good taste, health benefits and the sense of well being one achieved by tea drinking spread to the western world. The American colonies embraced the habit of tea drinking after tea was introduced by Dutch traders in the 17th and 18th centuries and became one of the largest tea drinking regions in the world on a per capita basis. Colony consumption of tea dwarfed that of the parent country England.

The French and Indian War, or Seven Years War, after which the British ruled supreme in most of North America, represented the decisive turning point in British-colonial relations however. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ratified Britain’s undisputed control of the seas and shipping trade, as well as its sovereignty over much of the North American continent east of the Mississippi River (including French Canada).

But the British expected the Colonies to pay for the war (the British borrowed heavily from European Bankers to finance the war) and this fact planted the seeds of rebellion.

During the years leading up to the American Revolution, Britain, through a policy of salutary neglect, had allowed the colonies by default the right to manage their own affairs. The 茶葉店 subsequent efforts on the part of royal officials to rectify this deficiency and collect unprecedented amounts of revenue violated what many American colonists understood as the clear precedent of more than a century of colonial-imperial relations.

New world institutions of self-government and trade, having matured in an age of salutary neglect, would resist and ultimately rebel against perceived British encroachment. Taxation policy became a central point of contention, because it tended to threaten both the prosperity and autonomy of colonial society.

Between the Seven Years War and the Revolution the British enacted a series of heavy handed taxation and other policies that attempted to raise revenue and regain control over the wayward colonies. Many of the acts focused on tea and the result was revolution.

On the night of December 16, 1773 Massachusetts Patriots disguised as Indians illegally boarded the Dartmouth, a cargo ship bearing 342 chests of East India Tea valued at about £10,000. In defiance of Governor Thomas Hutchinson and British tax authority in general, the intruders dumped the entire shipment into Boston Harbor, precipitating a crisis that would lead to revolution.

The Boston Tea Party was an act of uprising in which Boston residents destroyed crates of British tea in 1773, in protest against British tea and taxation policy. Prior to the Boston Tea Party, residents of Britain’s North American 13 colonies drank far more tea than coffee. In Britain, coffee was more popular. After the protests against the various taxes, British Colonists stopped drinking tea as an act of patriotism. Drinking of loose leaf tea in the United States is only now recovering.