Tea played a central role in the economic, cultural, and political lives of early Americans. As such, tea came to serve as a powerful symbol of both early American culture and of the American Revolution.
In this episode of the Doing History: To the Revolution series, Jane Merritt, Jennifer Anderson, and David Shields take us on an exploration of the politics of tea during the era of the American Revolution.
About the Series
The mission of episodes in the Doing History: To the Revolution series is to ask not just “what is the history of the American Revolution?” but “what are the histories of the American Revolution?”
The Doing History series explores early American history and how historians work. It’s produced by the Omohundro Institute.
Be sure to check out Doing History season 1, Doing History: How Historians Work.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Jane Merritt, Jennifer Anderson, and David Shields take us on an exploration of the politics of tea during the era of the American Revolution so that we can better understand how tea came to play a sizable role in the American Revolution.
During our exploration, these scholars reveal how the early American tea trade and later obsession with tea developed; How tea influenced different aspects of the early American economy; And how tea parties and tea tables came to serve as important social gatherings for the discussion of revolutionary politics.
What You’ll Discover
- The English East India Company and its tea trade
- How the English East India Company created a market for tea
- The price of tea
- The role of tea in the British American “consumer revolution”
- Tea smuggling
- The Tea Act of 1773
- How access to tea changed over the 18th century
- The development of the mahogany trade
- How the mahogany trade became associated with American tea consumption
- Mahogany tree extraction
- Why early Americans became obsessed with mahogany
- Mahogany in early American paintings and portraits
- Cabinetmakers and mahogany furniture
- The popularity of mahogany and tea consumption
- Why 18th-century British Americans loved tea
- The taste and ritual of 18th-century tea
- Types of tea and their popularity
- Colonial British American tea tables and the ritual of drinking tea
- Chinese culture in European and American culture
- 18th-century British American tea parties
- Politics at the tea table
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Jane Merritt
- The Trouble with Tea: The Politics of Consumption in the Eighteenth-Century Global Economy
- Jennifer Anderson
- Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America
- Richard Bushman, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities
- David Shields
- Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America
- The Culinarians: Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining
- Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine
- Karin Wulf, Milcha Martha Moore's Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America
- Karin Wulf, Episode 114: The History of Genealogy
- Le Guirlande Early Music, C.P.E. Bach: Flute Sonata in D Major, Wq. 131, H. 561
- Omohundro Institute
- William and Mary Quarterly-Journal of the Early Republic joint issue on the American Revolution $10 promotion
- The Great Courses Plus (1 Free Month of Unlimited Membership)
Complementary Blog Posts
- John Fea, “The Greenwich Tea Burning: The Political and Religious Roots of Local Revolutionary Resistance“
- Episode 043: Matthew Osborn, Rum Maniacs: Alcoholic Insanity in the Early American Republic
- Episode 106: Jane Kamensky, The World of John Singleton Copley
- Episode 111: Jonathan Eacott, India in the Making of Britain and America, 1700-1830
- Episode 112: Mary Beth Norton, The Tea Crisis of 1773
- Episode 135: Julie Holcomb, Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy
- Episode 156: The Power of the Press in the American Revolution
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