Contrary to what the American media have been reporting these past few weeks, no “Tea Bags” were thrown into Boston Harbor during the American Revolution. The colonial tax protesters threw crates of tea into the harbor, which may have contained these oven-baked “Tea Bricks.” There was NO SUCH THING as a “Tea Bag” in those days. The Boston Tea Party happened in 1773. The “Tea Bag” was invented 135 years later, in 1908.
Our colonial ancestors were protesting the raising of taxes without representation when they stopped purchasing and drinking British tea. When the brave Bostonians of so long ago, participated in their Boston Tea Party, there was no such thing as a “Tea Bag” anywhere in the world. One method of shipping tea to colonial America was to pack the dried leaves into heavy, compressed, baked bricks, as illustrated above, tightly packed in wooden crates. This protected the tea leaves from mildew and dampness during the long months at sea and in storage.
America’s media such as Chris Matthews of MSNBC and Anderson Cooper of CNN got it wrong when they described these current tax protests as “Tea Bag” Parties.
UPDATE: Here is a great photograph of some of the original tea which washed up on the shoreline after the Boston Tea Party of 1773: Massachusetts Historical Society