Hyson Green Tea and the American Colonists

In a recent visit to Boston, my daughter bought this fun tea for me:

Young Hyson tea tinYoung Hyson tea tin, back panel

As the tin says, early Americans drank Hyson and Young Hyson teas along with the gunpowder teas that my last posts examined.

The English deliberated about which teas to ship to the colonies, evaluating flavor, price, storability, profit—and what they could convince the colonists to drink! A few months before the Boston Tea Party, a Mr. Palmer (Drake 1884) mused that by offering a selection of teas:

the taste of the Americans will also be better known, that is, whether they prefer a fresh middling tea, provided it is not absolutely faint, or a strong, rough tea.

It seemed the colonists preferred their tea made with harbor water! Fifteen cases of Hyson were among the cases of tea dumped overboard back in December of 1773!

What Was Hyson Tea?

hyson tea leavesHyson and Young Hyson teas were green teas produced in China’s Anhui Province. Because they were less oxidized than black teas, green teas did not store as well—which was a real problem in the days when the journey from China took months to years!

To maximize profits and to minimize hyson tea leaves, after brewing
loss due to spoilage, that same Mr. Palmer recommended that the English East India Company try to get the Americans to drink Siglo (a green tea) over Bohea (a black tea).

He obviously wasn’t taking into account spoilage via hasty night-time brewing by irate colonists.

hyson tea brewingToday, I am enjoying this reproduction tea packaged by Oliver Pluff and Company in South Carolina. It is neither “absolutely faint” nor “strong, rough.”

Rather, I like its more bold and earthy flavor . . . properly brewed with heated freshwater. . . .

 

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