The Boston Tea Party in December 1773 was a pivotal moment in history. It showed that not only was the need for equity between the government and the governed, but the power a simple item could exert over human affairs. The moment remains a strong memory that inspires thoughts of true independence individually and as a Nation.
The Tea Act, having been passed by British Parliament in 1773, was met with resistance. Colonists felt it denied their right only to be taxed by elected representatives. The then Royal Governor of Boston, Thomas Hutchinson took the protest to new heights by holding the tea hostage, not realizing that restless protestors would use this opportunity to destroy the whole lot.
The result of the tea party was felt as far as England, where King George III signed the Boston Port Act. This essentially shut down all commerce in Boston until the money lost in taxes to the crown, as well as the money lost by the East India Company that owned the tea, was repaid. This further unified the colonies to act in defense of each other. It seems that tea became a rallying cry, and one of the major factors in the American Revolution.
To recover from the loss of tea tax revenues, the English colonies in India experimented with cultivating Chinese tea plants. This was successful and India today remains the source of Darjeeling black teas, which are among the most popular in the world. This lead to tea’s growing involvement in daily life as English land owners began to control more of the country than India’s own people.
The main thrust of colonization was mainly commercial in interest. The East India Company was England’s answer to the Dutch East India Company, which was the primary source of much of the trade between Europe and the countries of India, China and Japan during the 15th through 18th centuries. Increases in opportunity created the exchange of legends and lore, as well as the cultivation of multiple types of tea, though almost all of them were descended from plants originating in China.
Tea trade in India did have numerous added benefits for the country. Having a plethora of plantations throughout the sub continent meant that transportation to port had to be both reliable and fast. British engineers created new roads and built bridges over rivers and valleys that had previously been obstacles to travel in the country. In the 1850’s the British railways were built. The money for the rail came from taxes paid for by a combination of tea and cotton grown in India and sold abroad. This rail system enabled travel in days as compared to previously it took weeks to cover the same distance.
Tea stayed after India’s independence in 1947, where it still produces more than 30% of the world’s tea. It also enables more than 10 million people to work directly either as production, preparation or transportation to market. Half of the people employed in this vital industry are women, making tea not only a part of India’s history, but a source of income and independence for a large part of the country.
In a very strong way, tea became the catalyst for change in two countries. Both America and India owe quite a bit of their history, commerce and interactions to this simple beverage.