Tea Culture and Tea Traditions of North America


Tea Drinking Culture in North America
Tea History of North America
Tea was introduced to North America by the people who settled in there during the 1600s. These settlers were Dutch people. After the English took over the North American region, the British tea culture and customs were spread fast in Philadelphia and Boston. It is a special event in the history when Bostonians struggled against the heavy taxes imposed by the Parliament on their tea. The event is famously known as the Boston Tea party. The fight started against the Tea Act of 1773 and some demonstrators threw a complete shipment of tea chests to the sea. Today the museum dedicated to this event stands in Boston and features one tea chest from the original event.
The ritual of tea drinking quickly spread after the 1600s because of the arrival of a Dutch governor for the city of the then New Amsterdam. Once the British took it over, they renamed it New York and tea continued to be in the limelight as the British were already keen on it. The American tea etiquette, teaware, brewing method and serving is understandably similar to that of the British.
Types of Tea consumed in North America
The ritual of afternoon tea transferred from Britain to America and the American ladies adapted it with relish. Then it was the black tea that was available and many garden party were held with drinking it.
the types of teas consumed in North America, iced tea is the signature variety. They have twisted the concept of hot tea which existed everywhere else in the world and came up with a chilled version, which is drunk 85% more than the warm teas in the USA.
Generally Black tea is used to make iced tea. Green tea is also available but not as much as the black variety. Sweet tea is another type of iced tea, sweetened and used commonly in the Southern states of the USA. It is seen presented in ceremonies such as weddings and parties, and served all around the year with main meals. Granulated sugar or syrup is used to sweeten it.
Hot tea made with the use of tea bag is usually consumed in the mornings but coffee has gained the upper hand as a morning drink. Adding milk is not a common practice among the Americans. During the recent times, specialty teas served in restaurants such as chai latte have gained popularity. They are however listed under coffee.
Tea Customs of North America
In North America, tea is not revered or held in high esteem like in Asian countries. Nevertheless it informally and unceremoniously exists in the life of Americans and Canadians. In the recent past fancy tea drinks and new tea blends as well as leaf tea drinks have become more common.
American teas are sold in coffee shops and small cafes. Tea houses, tea rooms or specialty tea shops are not absent but they are uncommon than the coffee shops.
The custom of having an afternoon tea around a table at home is also difficult to see in America. However stepping into a small cafe or a coffee shop and having a tea there while chatting with a friend or working on your laptop is not unusual to see. Tea bags were invented in the United States and is used all around the world today. It is a quick and convenient way of brewing a delicious cup of tea and has become a noteworthy addition to the American “fast” life.
Loose tea leaves are used only by the serious tea drinkers. Within the recent times specialty teas such as the ones infused with various fruits, spices and flowers have gained popularity.
While the Yankees enjoy their tea more in the form of iced form hence tea snacks are not accompanied, they enjoy a large array of sweets during high teas at homes and hotels. From various cakes – chocolate, lemon, butter etc. – and pastries to sandwiches, cookies and scones there are an innumerable number of sweet items to enjoy tea with.
Tea ceremonies in North America
As they lack the religious or culturally ingrained aspect for tea, tea ceremonies in the exact sense of Asian tea ceremonies are difficult to see in North America.
However the tradition of having afternoon tea was bestowed upon the ladies of North America from the ones who came from the UK to settle. They followed an elaborate menu as much as, or at times even more, than how the Brits organised it. For the English it was a table with cakes, scones, sandwiches and rarely with a trifle or some other desert option. But the American hostesses included not only the sweets but also savories such as cheese toast, rolled ham, caviar, rolls, cold tongue, crab croquettes, jelly chicken and so much more. These food items in England would have actually been offered for dinner or lunch rather than for tea. Even today the afternoon tea at a commercial establishment encompasses all these sweet and savory food options, quite different to what you could see in England.
Tea enjoyed during these ceremonies was black, but it was quite distinct from what filled the cups of the English. These were light teas with a smooth taste whilst the English preferred the stronger, darker teas from Sri Lanka, India and Kenya. People in North America also prefer peach, vanilla, mango, blueberry and sweetened iced tea to the stronger ones.
Teaware of North America
When tea, along with coffee and chocolate reached North America, it replaced the usual start of the day beverage which was mostly an alcohol. Both tea and coffee set the precedent to so many traditions; some of it are seen even today such as coffee houses, afternoon tea and tea gardens or tea houses. Therefore the equipment used in the preparation of this tea also came to be known as a necessity in most households.
Tea was not only served in tea shops but also consumed at home. When families started hosting tea parties and having tea together, silver and ceramic cups, pots and other teaware became important.
The habit of drinking tea was already entrenched in the society by the mid-17th century. All the tea was imported, obviously from Asian countries. Silversmiths of America were tasked with producing the required teaware by the beginning of the 18th century.
The first teapots were globe or pear-shaped, however by the middle of the 18th century tea pots fashioned after an apple became the trend. With time, oval shaped and drum shaped teapots with a straightly fixed spout was used commonly. Americans also included sugar bowls, a pot for cream, kettle, and a canister to store the tea leaves. Nevertheless matching every element to each other was not started until the 1790s.