Boston Harbor; A Teapot Tonight!

Boston Harbor, a Teapot Tonight!

There are few things in life better than good tea; a fact recognized in America since the colonies were very young. When the colonies were still in their infancy, the Dutch East India Company introduced tea to the wealthy residents of “New Amsterdam,” later renamed “New York” when the area was surrendered to British governance in 1664. By the early part of the eighteenth century, the heavily taxed tea brought in by England’s East India Company became a fashionable drink that inspired lavish tea gardens similar to those in London. By the latter years of the 1750s, tea was a commonplace drink among all but the most impoverished colonists.

To avoid paying the high import tax levied on English tea, a majority of tea drinkers turned to tea smuggled in by the Dutch, Swedes and French, a circumstance that severely depressed the quantity of English tea flowing into the colonies. In reaction, England’s 1767 Townshend Act imposed a tax on tea so onerous that it ignited a widespread idea of boycotting British imported teas. The colonists were faced with the equally unpalatable choices of buying illegally smuggled tea or paying the excessive tax for British imported tea. With that dilemma, tea became a symbol of great injustice and the notion of boycotting the British tea quickly gained favor.

This obstinate boycott persisted until 1771 when Parliament decided to vigorously enforce the collection of the tea tax. Despite the colonists’ festering and growing anger, the East India Company gained permission to send a sizeable quantity of taxable tea to America. In December of 1773 the berthing of three British tea-laden ships at Griffin’s Wharf served as the catalyst for open rebellion. On December 16, during the largest town meeting in the history of the city, patriotic fervor overflowed and a leather worker named Adam Collson shouted the now famous statement; “Boston Harbor, a teapot tonight!” His cry was followed by the dumping of over 90,000 pounds of loose leaf tea into Boston Harbor at Griffin’s Wharf.

One of the most momentous events in American history, this act of open rebellion foreshadowed the American Revolution and independence for the colonies. As the tea rebellion spread, so too did the colonists’ determination to show their patriotism by shunning tea amid the gathering clouds of war. On the morning of April 19, 1775 shots were fired at Lexington and Concord and the course of tea in America was altered forever.

History of Tea in Japan

And then tea came to Japan…

In the early 600s AD, tea was introduced to Japan through contact between Zen priests and Chinese Buddhist monks. The Japanese Zen priest, Saichō returned to Japan in 815 after many years spent in China. He brought with him compressed tea bricks and tea seeds, which he presented to the reigning Emperor Saga. Interest in tea remained guarded and centered solely around the court and its high-ranking officials for several centuries, until the Japanese Heian era of 794-1185.

During this time, the Japanese Samurai class rose to power, along with a flourishing of the arts and intellectual pursuits, tea drinking among them. The Zen priest, Myoan Eisai introduced Chinese tea seeds and bushes to the island of Kyushu, and they were then transported to the outskirts of modern day Kyoto, where some of Japan’s finest teas are produced to this day. After many subsequent visits to China and a deep immersion in the tea culture, Eisai wrote, Kissa Yōjōki, translated as, “Drinking Tea for Health,” lauding the medicinal and health benefits of the ancient beverage. Many other writers poetically connected tea to the changing seasons and landscape.

The ethereal character of tea was praised in Japanese poetry, elevating the drink to forms of beauty, high art and a pure experience of otherworldly peace and well-being, experienced in today’s ritual of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. By the sixteenth century this ultimate artistic “Way of Tea” became known as Chanoyu. It is a ritual that combines tranquility, mystery, discipline, beauty, respect, complete attention and harmony in its appreciation of the preparation of tea.

This famous tea ceremony defines the ultimate ritual in the preparation of food and beverage and is revered for its hypnotic manners and mystical entrancement. As a Buddhist priest stated, “The taste of Ch’an (Zen) and the taste of ch’a (tea) are the same.”

Iced Tea—America’s National Drink

Iced Tea…America’s Most Beloved Beverage


Although Americans drink copious amounts of iced black tea, few know the origins of this country’s most in-demand beverage. Iced tea is so popular that it is often referred to “America’s National Drink,” and dates back to the 1830s. Regional foods expert, Linda Stradley, chronicles recipes for cold green tea punch, heavily laced with alcohol, in American and British cookbooks from the early nineteenth century.

As the country emerged from the devastation of the Civil War, 1884 saw recipes for cold sweetened black tea in the Boston Cooking School’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking. Additionally, an 1890 newspaper article in the Nevada Noticer describes over 800 gallons of iced tea served to a gathering of Civil War veterans at a picnic in Nevada, Missouri. Such accounts of iced tea were numerous as the innovative twentieth-century dawned.

The young country was finally on its feet financially and able to play host to the 1904 World’s Fair at St. Louis, Missouri. Among exhibitors from all over the world displaying their wares, a young English tea grower, Richard Blechynden, set up a glamourous and colorful booth with exotically-turbaned Indian servers steeping fine Indian black teas. Hired by an association of Indian tea growers to promote teas from the different regions in India, Mr. Blechynden tried to serve the delicious cups of hot tea. However, he found few who were interested in the steaming beverages as the mid-western summer sweltered under intense heat and humidity. Despite his best efforts and premium Indian teas, his promotion appeared doomed.

Whether inspired by his own need to cool off or some amazing marketing muse, in a move that was to inspire a multi-million dollar industry, Mr. Blechynden packed glasses with ice and poured his black teas over the cold crystals. It was a fortuitous act that change the course of tea consumption in America and saved the day for the young entrepreneur, as Fair visitors flocked to try this novel new drink. Historically, Americans had been green tea drinkers, but found this new, cold black tea so enticing that its popularity quickly spread throughout the nation, persisting to this day as America’s most beloved drink.

Click here to see our newest super-giant fruit-flavored iced teabags that make a gallon of iced tea at a time…so easy to do…just drop the big teabag in a gallon container of water and cold steep overnight in your refrigerator.  Oh so yummy!

2016-2017 Tea Tasting Classes

Cha-Typing-Right-350Global Tea Mart presents:

Tea Tasting Classes: An Exciting & Fun Way to Experience Delicious, Fine Loose Leaf Teas…

Shrouded in the mists before history, humans discovered wild tea trees growing in the

rugged mountainous jungles on the southern edge of China’s Yunnan Province…

~ Thus begins the story of tea ~

Global Tea Mart’s Certified Tea Professional invites you to learn tea’s origins & history as you

see, smell & taste the differences between fine white, green, oolong & black teas.

Save the dates & join us on this entertaining & exhilarating tea-tasting journey in Sun Lakes, AZ…

November 15, 2016……………………………………….Chinese Green Teas

December 20, 2016…………………………………..Tea & English Literature

January 17, 2017………………………………………….What is “High Tea?”

February 21, 2017………………………………………….British Legacy Teas

March 21, 2017……………………………….Ooh!..Those Marvelous Oolongs

April 18, 2017…………………………………….…American Tea Companies

All classes 10AM to Noon

Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room.

$5 per class. Reservations are necessary.

 Call or email: for reservations.


~ Students please bring a teacup and saucer ~

Afternoon Tea, by Jane Pettigrew–a Review

ChaRight380Afternoon Tea

Our panda mascot, Cha, loves to read—especially tea books—and has recently dived into the world of book reviews. Here’s his take on Jane Pettigrew’s wise and witty Afternoon Tea. (



“First off, I love holding this book—it’s just the right size for my paws and easy on my eyes. I first note and agree with, Ms. Pettigrew’s accurate observation that tea is ‘quite simply, the best drink of the day.’

Then she leads me on a journey from the discovery of tea five-thousand years ago in Southern China, near by the mountains where I was born, through Alice in Wonderland’s looking glass to women’s independence and the temperance movements and right into the tea renaissance that is sweeping the world today.

A lump came into my throat at this gorgeous book’s tasty recipes for such tea goodies as Strawberry Amaretto Shortcake and Macarons. I literally drooled at the elegant photos of perfectly prepared tea trays and trolleys, as well as historical photos that imbue the book with depth and authenticity.

I can’t say enough good things about this enchanting page-after-page depiction of the art of ‘refined conversation and light hearted chatter’ that has so characterized tea time over the centuries. Tea’s cultural importance is highlighted in her descriptions of traditional tea rituals and ceremonies. Although she doesn’t say anything about pandas, I can forgive her oversight as the entire book is a treat.

I would advise you to enjoy this book with a cup of your favorite tea. In Afternoon Tea you will be fascinated by the historical tidbits and mesmerizing tea stories woven as fine as spotless linens and gracious manners. Ms. Pettigrew’s profound insight into this intriguing and healthy beverage is a treat worthy of the finest tea. It’s no wonder she is aptly dubbed ‘Britain’s First Lady of Tea.’ I raise my cup of tea to you, dear lady, for a job exceedingly well done.”

A Social History of Tea


A Social History of Tea

One of the best things about drinking tea is the bonds of community and friendship it fosters among tea lovers.   Cha is honored to introduce you to the premier book on the interrelated stories of tea history and culture in Britain and America.

As a tea drinker, the total tea experience doesn’t start with your taste buds—it starts with knowledge of the “ancient beverage”. So, flip open the pages and dive into one of the most captivating and charming stories you will ever read.

A Social History Of Tea MASTER

A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson is filled with fascinating tidbits of tea lore gleaned from diaries, household accounts, books, manuscripts and tea company archives. A Social History of Tea beguiles and informs its readers of the development of bonds that transcended wars and political differences. This intriguing and romantic journey into the past leads naturally to the present-day renewed interest in tea, the “ancient” beverage. From the origins of tea to its spread around the world and into today’s kitchens and dining rooms, this delightful book carries us along as lightly as a clipper ship plying the oceans laden with tea bound for Britain and the Americas. A charmingly written must-have book for the tea lover and tea historian.

Click here to get this book…

Britain’s Oldest Tea, by Bruce Richardson

Cha-Typing-Right-350British researchers have found what they believe to be the oldest tea in Britain, and to the surprise of contemporary British tea drinkers, the tea is green! The unassuming box of Chinese tea was acquired around 1700 by a ship’s surgeon James Cuninghame. Cunninghame subsequently gave it as a gift to the famous physician and collector of curiosities, Hans Sloane. Sloane’s vast collection served as the genesis for The National History Museum in London.  The tea, labeled ‘A sort of Tea from China’ and acknowledged as a gift ‘from Mr Cuninghame, remained unnoticed until a recent study on the museum’s ‘Vegetable Substances’ allowed the collection’s long forgotten contents to be discovered. Historians from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) subsequently identified the sample’s significance as the oldest physical remnant of the nation’s favorite drink.  According to NHM researchers, Dr. Charlie Jarvis and Victoria Pickering, the tea was “almost certainly collected or purchased by James Cuninghame, a Scottish surgeon, trader and collector, during one of his two trips to China in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century”. Dr. Richard Coulton, researcher at QMUL said: “Among other things, Cuninghame was a pretty intrepid plant-hunter. In 1697 he joined an illicit private trading voyage to Amoy in Fujian province, a center for the early-modern tea trade. “He arrived back in Britain in 1699 and very soon after set out again to China with the famous British East India Company. He stayed for three years on the island of Chusan, where he found the tea plant growing wild and witnessed the local manufacturing of leaf tea.”Britains Oldest Tea Photo

Cuninghame’s interest in Chinese teas came forty years before the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune started his three-year spy mission into the Chinese interior in search of tea seeds on behalf of the East India Company.  Tea drinking in 1700 was considered an exotic and fashionable pleasure, only affordable to the wealthiest consumers since being introduced into London coffee shops in 1658.  In 1663, tea was priced at up to 60 shillings per pound for the finest quality, whereas the best coffee was only six shillings per pound.  “What makes this discovery so fascinating is that it captures the very moment at which tea was about to lay claim to a mass market in Britain,” Dr. Coulton remarked. But what would the specimen taste like to modern tea drinkers? “It would taste quite some way from the milk and two sugars variety”, said Dr. Coulton. “The tea is loose-leaf green tea, manufactured by peasant laborers on small-holdings in China. The basic process for manual tea production hasn’t really changed, so we might assume that this tea would have tasted much like an artisanal green tea today, albeit one of the rough-and-ready rather than boutique variety. The ‘green’-ness of the tea is interesting: for its first half century, so 1650-1700, Britain’s tea-habit was almost entirely green. It wasn’t until the second quarter of the eighteenth century that darker teas started to take over.” Green tea would remain in favor in both Britain and the American colonies throughout the 18th century. Two Chinese green teas, hyson and singlo, were part of the cargo tossed overboard in Boston Harbor in 1773. And what delicious contribution to British culinary culture was collector Hans Sloane known for?

Hans SloaneSloane traveled to Jamaica in 1725 where he first tasted a chocolate drink he described as ‘nauseous’. But the story goes that after trying it mixed with milk, and not water as it was drunk by the Jamaicans then, he found it much more appealing and ‘healthy’.

Sloane brought his recipe back to London and, later, Cadbury’s started making chocolate as we know it from his original recipe. The rest is chocolate history.Sir Hans Sloane

Read more about the history of tea in A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson, 2014, Benjamin Press. Article used by permission.