Continued from Tuesdays With Norwood: Colonial America – Part 1
In imitation of London, New York City came to support numerous coffeehouses and tea gardens. Over the course of the century there were three Vauxhalls alone, one Ranelagh, and several other. To make up for a lack of decent drinking water in Manhattan, the city was forced to establish special Tea Water Pumps, one of them where Christopher Street meets Greenwich and Sixth Avenue. Demand for the water the pumps and springs provided was, by 1757, such that the city fathers had to enact “a law for the Tea Water Men in the City of New York.”
Not only in the cities but also throughout the countryside, tea was a long-established part of the American Way by the time of the revolution it helped spark. Trevelyan, an English historian, described its prerevolutionary popularity:
“The most portable, as well as the most easily prepared of beverages, it was drunk in the backwoods of America as it is drunk today in the Australian bush. In more settled districts, the quantity absorbed on all occasions of ceremony is incredible to a generation which has ceased to mourn in large companies and at great expense. Whatever the gentlemen, who rode or drove into a funeral from thirty miles around, were in the habit of drinking, the ladies drank tea. The very Indian, in default of something stronger, drank it twice a day.”
But regardless of “the quantity absorbed,” John Company revenues began to shrink during this period on account of a mere three penny per pound tax Parliament had specially imposed on tea and other goods America imported.
To be concluded in Tuesdays With Norwood: Colonial America – Part 3