A TASTE FOR TEA
For relaxation or as a way to start the day, a cup
of tea can't be beat. Even though I sometimes drink
coffee, I prefer tea such as English Breakfast tea,
Awake tea and Earl Grey tea, to name a few.
Drinking tea has long been a tradition in my family,
something my grandmother and mother enjoyed with
family and friends.
"Have a cup of tea and we'll chat," my mom
would say almost immediately when I arrived at her
house, 275 miles from mine. My grandmother had a
cup of tea every afternoon at 3 o'clock. Anyone
around would stop and sit with her at the kitchen
As I delve into the life of early Americans during
my research for various articles, I come across the
frequent references to tea as a favored beverage.
Modern day hospitality often calls for a cup
of coffee offered to guests.
However, in colonial days, tea generally was
the more common brew at any hour.
Some say tea was first sold in a public shop in
Boston around 1680.
Before long it was found in most apothecary
researcher claimed that more than 7,800,000 gallons
of tea was drunk by one and a half million
colonists. In the streets of New York City, peddlers
sold tea water from push carts.
If it hadn't been for the tax on tea, imposed by the
British, this country might still be a nation of tea
When the tea duty was forced upon the colonies, it
struck the colonists where it hurt and caused a
great deal of dissension.
This was one of the factors causing the young
colonies to break away from English rule.
Tea drinking was a habit most Americans had acquired
even though they might have coffee for breakfast (at
that time, tea was still a common breakfast
beverage), they wanted tea for other meals.
Yet they refused, out of patriotic spirit and
economic necessity, to drink the tea when taxed.
Thus, in its place, substitute teas were developed.
Local herbs and plants were commonly used to
make what were referred to as "patriotic beverages,"
or those which did not include imported tea.
Liberty tea was one most often
used. It was
made from loosestrife, a very plentiful plant in the
marshes of this country.
It was four-leafed with pink or lavender
blossoms and grew in wet places.
Labrador tea was consumed in Maine.
It was created from two types of evergreen
New Jersey tea was popular with the
Sons of Liberty.
This beverage was made from the dried or
fresh leaves of a native wild shrub called
Caenothus americanus. It's
white flowers grew in egg-shaped clusters.
The roots of this plant were used for making
a red dye, as well.
The bark could be used for concocting a
Appalachian tea was a substitute
from the withe rod and the inkleberry.
This sometimes was called Carolina
tea as well.
To accompany your tea, perhaps you'd like to try
They are cooked like muffins, but taste
somewhat like donuts.
Mix together the following ingredients until
cups flour, 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder, 2/3
teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon
nutmeg, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 2/3 tablespoon dry milk,
2/3 cup water (or 2/3 cup milk instead of the dried
milk and water), 1 large egg, 1/3 cup melted
shortening or oil.
After filling paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full,
sprinkle each muffin with a mixture of cinnamon and
at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
This recipe makes one dozen muffins.
(Mary Emma Allen writes for children and adults from
her NH woodland home and while traveling.
E-mail her and share your teatime memories
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