Historical Tea Question


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Historical Tea Question

Postby Two If By Sea » Dec 13th, '10, 19:30

I am a homebrewer of beer and wine. I have a fictional brewery I call "Two If By Sea Brewing Company" and as you can see, it has a New England flavor to it. I name many of my brews to do with colonial era or New England area things. I've got an idea I could use some help with.

I want to brew up a Sons of Liberty Ale. I'm thinking of a lighter ale that will let a tea shine through. I was originally just going to put some English type of tea but I figure it would be neater to put something the colonists were drinking. So it got me thinking. What were the colonists drinking? Were they drinking something different than what the English were taxing that came from somewhere else? Or were they drinking the same tea, just stuff that was smuggled in. Is there something available today the same or similar to what they drank?

Thanks for any assistance.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 13th, '10, 21:07

I'd have to imagine it was the same stuff the british were drinking.
Earl Grey maybe? Darjeeling?
It had to have been a black tea of some sort since the west were not really open/interested in other teas at that time.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby mbanu » Dec 13th, '10, 21:17

I may be mistaken, but before the establishment of tea plantations in India in the 1800s, most tea in the West (if not all tea, including smuggled tea) came from China, largely through the British-operated East India Company. Foreign traders were not allowed free access to the Chinese countryside.

Low-grade, high-fired Oolong tea was available, known as "Bohea" (A bastardization of "Wuyi"). It was very popular; I believe it was the most popular import.

(However there was no distinction between oolong and black tea in the West for quite some time, so this may have simply been low-grade Wuyi-area congou...?)

Green tea (especially "hyson" green) was known, and supposedly was more popular in the U.S. than in England, due to an early scare in the UK over adulterants added to the green tea to improve its color, that did not seem to reach the States.

So maybe a Wuyi Oolong or Hyson green tea might work?
Last edited by mbanu on Dec 13th, '10, 21:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby entropyembrace » Dec 13th, '10, 21:34

SlientSipper wrote:I'd have to imagine it was the same stuff the british were drinking.
Earl Grey maybe? Darjeeling?
It had to have been a black tea of some sort since the west were not really open/interested in other teas at that time.


Wouldn´t be either of those

British tea production in India didn´t begin until the 1820´s in Assam and later spread to other areas of India.

Earl Grey´s origins are less clear but the Earl Grey that it´s named after wasn´t born until 1764 and didn´t become Prime Minister until 1830.

iirc it was Bohea and Chinese Green tea that was dumped in Boston Harbour so that gives some idea of what type of tea was popular in New England during the 2nd half of the 18th century.

I really don´t know exactly what the Bohea would be though...that refers to the Wuyi mountains in China but it´s not obvious if this was oolong tea or what we in the west call black tea...

In any case it would be Chinese tea that they drank.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby IPT » Dec 13th, '10, 21:35

A lot of the tea being exported from China to England and the colonies were Chinese Red Teas, which the British called Black Tea, and the name stuck. In China they are still called Red Tea. The Dianhong Tea out of Yunnan would be pretty good with ale I think. It has a citrus flavor to it which might go nicely with ale.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby Two If By Sea » Dec 13th, '10, 21:59

IPT wrote:A lot of the tea being exported from China to England and the colonies were Chinese Red Teas, which the British called Black Tea, and the name stuck. In China they are still called Red Tea. The Dianhong Tea out of Yunnan would be pretty good with ale I think. It has a citrus flavor to it which might go nicely with ale.

Citrusy...yes, that would be good with cascade hops which add a citrus flavor. Perhaps a hop with some floral notes to layer on top. I'll have to get some teas to try. Which Adagio would it be?
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby Two If By Sea » Dec 13th, '10, 22:07

Some of my research online indicated green teas, gunpowder being one. Also labrador tea for those who couldn't afford the taxes. Teas from the Dutch since that wasn't taxed was another possibility. I'm thinking it would be easiest to assume a tea that the East India Tea company would have shipped to the Americas and it got raided and smuggled in to get around the tax. I'd probably want to assume a very high end tea for the time too as I'm sure the layperson was not drinking a tea matching the quality of teas readily available now.
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby Two If By Sea » Dec 13th, '10, 22:14

Hrmm. This indicates the Bohea: http://www.boston-tea-party.org/teaco-davison-newman.html Any idea of a modern equivalent?
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby iannon » Dec 13th, '10, 22:30

I would guess the closest at Adagio would be the Lapsang? perhaps.. Although I think you can find the Bohea elsewhere too
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Re: Historical Tea Question

Postby Two If By Sea » Dec 13th, '10, 22:31

I could work with the smokey teas too, use an earthy hop.
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