Updated: Dec 28, 2020
A 2016 study suggests that Americans drank more coffee than juice, soda, and tea combined. Many people think that Americans are caffeine (coffee) addicts and their typical day looks like this - a pot of dark brew in the morning, an espresso drink in a go-to plastic cup in the afternoon, and perhaps, if time allows, a coffee date with friends in the evening. Well, that’s somewhat the right perception, but you will be surprised to know that the United States consumes a surprising amount of tea. While tea is not given that much privilege as compared to coffee, still it is a celebrated beverage in the country with a tea culture that doesn’t follow the Brits, Indians, or the Chinese. They have their own unique way of having tea.
This post especially talks about the American tea culture, and as a tea aficionado, it is great to know about different tea cultures.
Do Americans like Tea?
People across the world ask will the Americans be able to drink tea with the same devotion and passion as tea. There have been a lot of debates regarding the question with many arguing saying that a historical perspective might be in order.
For instance, some say that in the America model, coffee is largely solitary and speedy. They argue that in regions where tea has a foothold, it tends to slow down people, and in metaphorical and literal senses, tea brings humans together. In other terms, people choose coffee over tea because it helps them to accelerate their day and increase alertness. As a result, they tend to drink several cups of coffee in a day. They love tea, but it is usually in the morning when they are easing into the day and even in the evening when they are winding down.
So is it really that the Americans are fast-paced people, always working, and drinking tea will slow them down? Well, we think that it has more to do with American history rather than some hunches and debates related to the effectiveness of caffeine in increasing alertness.
The History of Tea in America
Before American independence, tea was a way of the United Kingdom enslaving America. The Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in 1767 that imposed duties on tea, along with other commodities, such as tea paper, paint, lead, and glass. The colonists wanted to start manufacturing their own goods instead of paying taxes on imported goods. Tea was among those things that were chosen for taxation since the authorities thought that the colonists would have a challenging time producing their own goods, especially tea. They estimated that the tariffs would increase roughly around £40,000, with the majority of the revenue generating from tea.
In May 1773, the Parliament passed the Tea Act, which granted a tea monopoly on the sales of tea in the colonies. While no new taxes were imposed, it was designed to help the British East India Company. At that time, they were financially struggling, given the fact that they had 18 million pounds of unsold tea sitting in the warehouses.
For radical American leaders, they thought the Tea Act was a strategy of the British to buy support for the taxes that were already being enforced. On the other hand, the sale of tea through British agents would have compromised the businesses of the local merchants.
Eventually, in the colonies, it was the Tea Act that broke the camel’s back, essentially leading to a series of revolutionary movements. This ultimately led to the Boston Tea Party, and then to the Revolutionary War.
Considering the history, it is comprehensible why the country has held back from backing the tea industry for decades. Some historians also say that it is not only the history that prevented the growth of the tea industry in America. In the 18th and 19th centuries, tea was among the most powerful commodities. Americans had so many concerns about it. For starters, it was exotic and not local, and it was insanely expensive, coming from Asia. At that time, Smallpox was a deadly disease killing millions of people in the 18th century. People feared that the products shipping from outside the country might be contaminated with the virus.
Although the consumption of tea in the United States grew post the Revolutionary War, people still preferred coffee. Then President Andrew Jackson put an end to the tax on coffee, and ever since, people have been drinking more coffee.
How to people take their Tea in the United States?
Americans like tea, but not your regular hot tea with spices and all. As per the reports generated from the Tea Association of the USA, 85% of the tea consumed in America is ICED. So, if you tend to visit America and go to a restaurant or a cafe, your waiter will not automatically know that you are longing for a hot cup of chai. In some restaurants, you will be served tea with a small amount of honey or a slice of lemon. And they prefer cream over milk if you take milk in your tea. Cream is served with tea and coffee in America. While the cream is a bit thicker than milk, it tastes absolutely delicious with tea.
On the other hand, you will have to be careful when purchasing tea bags because the majority of them are for preparing iced tea. So, check the labels carefully. For preparing hot cups of tea, Americans prefer loose tea, even though there are some brands that offer teas for brewing.
And when we talk about variety, the Brits may lose their mind because you will find everything from Jasmine Orange to Vanilla Rooibos and Spearmint Green. These are all hot teas that you can easily get from Starbucks!
Well, that’s tea for America. Everybody loves their tea differently. Some like it hot, some like it with milk, and some prefer iced. All in all, it tells how flexible tea is as it is being enjoyed in different cultures in different ways.