Saturday, September 8, 2012

279. Chinese Tea and American Revolution

One of the most obvious direct economical and political influences of the Chinese culture upon social development in North America was the tea from China that helped trigger the American Revolution. On December 17, 1773, a week away from Christmas Eve, some colonial patriots, disguised as Indians, secretly entered Boston Harbor under the cover of night. They boarded three British ships in the harbor and dumped some 350 chests of Chinese tea into the water. Their action was a protestation of taxation without representation and the monopoly granted the East India Company (among other complaints against the British regime).

The importance of tea had developed into such a degree that it impacted the historical course of the world. Tea had become a basic element in North American colonial society so that in the 18th century, drinking tea in the morning at home and socially in the afternoon or early evening became an "established custom". A contemporary estimated that one third of the population drank tea twice a day. Some visitors left us vivid records about tea drinking in Pennsylvania and New York. “The favorite drink, especially after dinner, is tea.”

A Swedish traveler found that there was “hardly a farmer’s wife or a poor woman, who does not drink tea in the morning.” In Philadelphia the women would rather go without their dinners than without “a dish of tea.” The tea ceremony, with tea drinking, became the core of family life.

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