Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Boston Tea Party and Revolution Tea

History quiz time! Who here can name a historical event in eighteenth century American colonial history that lead up to that pesky American Revolution? If you guessed the Boston Massacre you are correct. If you guessed the Boston Tea Party you are more correct. (Sorry, just a bit of multiple choice, standardized testing humor. We've all had those tricky test questions that ask which answer is "the most correct.") Here’s a little lesson/recap on what exactly went down.

The year is 1765 and the British colonies along the upper American East Coast are hustling and bustling with  uphill development. However, there’s growing tension between the Colonists and Great Britain’s Parliament as King George tries to continue to heavily tax the still growing, Baby Colonists. The Colonists, who later define themselves as Patriots, argue against what they consider “taxation without representation” a.k.a. “paying for the benefits of government without receiving said benefits because they’re living on the other side of the Atlantic.” Whether or not that’s completely true is a discussion for another day, but the point is that England implemented this law called the Stamp Act in one of several efforts to remain in control of the colonies. The Stamp Act taxed the Colonists on every paper good imaginable. Newspapers, cards, stationary, stamps for sending letters, and even playing cards all had a sizable tax on it. And that irked the Colonists…a lot. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, Britain’s “East India Company” is going broke with debt up to their whigs. So Britain decides to monopolize on tea imports in the colonies in order to save face and make money. Good idea for England, bad news for those unfortunate Colonists. A year later in 1766 and after much grumbling, the Stamp Act is repealed and The Declaratory Act is implemented. While this act didn’t implement another tax it did state that Parliament had the authority to do whatever was best for the colonies and the Great Britain Empire, but mostly the colonies. Just when the Colonists thought ol’ George was starting to lighten up.

Things simmer for a few years while England begins to put their tea monopoly in effect with the colonies. In an effort to dodge it the Colonists, sly insubordinate subjects that they were, smuggled in tea from Holland other sources. Well England couldn't have that, East India Company was still struggling to stay afloat (pun intended)! So in comes the Tea Act of 1773 that stated that the Colonists will not only buy England’s tea and England’s tea only, they will be charged a 25% tax on it. As you can imagine that didn’t go over so well with the Colonists who finally said enough was enough. They were going to do something about it and show those Brits what they thought of their rotten tea!

On December 16, 116 Patriots (one of which was Mr. Paul Revere) dressed up as Mohawk Indians and stormed the harbored ships under the cover of the night. What was their goal? To dump over board 340 chests of tea. That’s 92,000 pounds of tea leaves gone. 18.5 million cups of tea wasted. £10,000 (about $1,000,000 in today’s money) down the drain. Take that Parliament! What I find interesting about the whole thing is that it was actually done quite peacefully. No one got shot or bayoneted. No English sailor got thrown overboard by a pseudo Indian. In fact, legend has it that some of the sailors helped and afterwards everyone swept the docks and gathered aboard the Eleanor for a campfire Kumbaya moment. Okay, okay, the campfire part I made up because it makes for an interesting mental picture, but it is true that the Colonists-gone-mad cleaned up after themselves and then booked it out of Boston before sun up. They also say that the harbor water, being only a few feet deep, was brown for days. That’s possible I suppose. But that wouldn’t make any sense if it’s true that the East India Company sailors who reported for duty the next morning didn’t notice anything amiss with the tea chests until a lock was reported as needing to be repaired a few days later.  Wouldn’t the sailors first notice that the harbor was brown and wreaked of their precious Chinese Bohea tea? Either way I suppose they just weren’t very observant.

Colonists tomahawking away at tea chests
This portrait is actually inaccurate because the raid was said to take place between 7-10p.m.,
not during broad daylight. 

I bring the Boston Tea Party up for three reasons. One, it involved tea and lots of it. Two, I think the American Revolution is pretty fascinating. Three, I recently tried two types of Revolution Tea. I highly doubt that Revolution Tea named their tea after the America Revolution and all its glory, but it still got me thinking about it as I sat drinking a cup of Honeybush Caramel tea one night.  That was one of the great things about both teas I tried; they didn’t contain caffeine. Don’t get me wrong; I love my caffeinated teas and their boosts of energy. But sometimes on those rare occasions that I don’t have to stay up burning the midnight oil, it’s great to have something tasty to sip on that won’t keep me up extra hours researching things that have nothing to do with my college classes. Like the American Revolution. But hey, you won’t find the above facts about the Boston Tea Party in your average 6th grade American History textbook.

Anyway, back to Revolution Tea. The Honeybush Caramel was a delightful decaf surprise. Honeybush is a type of African Rooibos herb, which means you’re ingesting antioxidants with every sip. And judging by the bright red tea leaves in the tea bag, your cup will be loaded with them. This tea makes for a delicious dessert tea after just about any dinner because of its sweetness. What’s even better is that it’s not too sweet.  In fact, when you take the first sip you’re only going to taste the unmistakable flavor of the Rooibos. Personally, I love it because it’s strong without being bitter like black tea. Only after the Rooibos fades does the sweet Caramel kick in to finish off the sip without giving your taste buds flavor whiplash. That being said, the tea doesn’t require hardly any added sugar and maybe only a touch of cream. Therefore, if you come across a Honeybush Caramel tea or maybe even Revolution’s Honeybush Caramel tea, give it a try for dessert or even something to sip before bed.

The second tea I tried was an herbal Citrus Spice sample. I’m actually not a fan of citrusy teas because I don’t think cream pairs well with them and I like a splash of cream with a Rooibos tea. Yes, Revolution’s Citrus Spice is also an African Rooibos bush tea that has lemon and orange peels in the mix as well.  The spice is the result of cinnamon and cloves, which is the dominant flavor over the citrus. For what I would imagine is most people, that’s a bit too much spice for a tea palate to handle if the citrus doesn’t come through. However, some people might like a strong-spiced tea during the colder months. In that case, I still wouldn’t necessarily try this one because I just don’t agree with the citrus spice pairing. Instead, try Revolution’s Bombay Chai tea. It too contains cinnamon and cloves along with ginger, nutmeg, and general chai goodness. It’s sure to keep you warm in the winter!

Until next time!