Tea Trivia

Porcelain tea bowl (NPS Photo)

Today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773). In honor of this famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) event, here’s some tea trivia to brighten up your Friday:

  • The earliest known English advertisement for tea is from 1658. It appeared in the 23-30 September edition of Mercurius Politicus.
  • Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England from 1662-1685, was the first tea-drinking Queen of England. She helped escalate the drink into a fashionable activity for upper-class women.
  • The earliest recorded tea house in England was reportedly built in the 1640s.
  • Milk was not commonly added to tea until the end of the seventeeth century.
  • In the 1690s, Boston women often brought a teacup, saucer, and spoon in a little bag with them to tea
  • Twinings was a tea shop in London, established in 1706. It was one of the first stores where women were able to buy tea. Prior to this, tea was mostly only available through coffee shops, which women were forbidden from entering.
  • By the mid-eighteenth century, tea had become a common breakfast beverage in upper-class homes
  • The word “caddy” was not used until the end of the eighteenth century.
  • Tea featured prominitely in the temperance movement – tea was an acceptable alternative to alcoholic beverages.
  • George Washington continued drinking tea after the Boston tea party, despite a patriotic movement to refrain from purchasing/drinking tea
  • Afternoon tea as a new social event began sometime in the late 1830s and early 1840s

Do you know any other fun tea facts? Which do you prefer, tea or coffee?


Pettigrew, Jane. A Social History of Tea. London: National Trust Enterprises Ltd., 2001.


About Megan L.

Megan graduated from Boston University in 2008 with an M.A. in Historical Archaeology. While in graduate school, she wrote her master's thesis on 18th-century glass drinkingware excavated during the Big Dig and interned with NMSC for 2 years. Megan has been a full-time employee since February 2010.
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