In the 1770's Colonists forsook the partaking of tea imported from the British, and thus American women looked to their own gardens and the world around them to create their own teas. Ribwort, sassafras, willow bark, birch, strawberry leaf, lemon balm, verbena, and currant bush were used as substitutes, as well as raspberry leaves which were used to make "Hyperion Tea". Spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen, orange bergamot, and catnip were used to create mint teas. Flowers such as red rose petals, blossoms of linden, elder, red clover, chamomile, violet, red rose petals, rosehips, linden blossoms, elder, red clover, chamomile, violet and goldenrod were also brewed into tea. Teas were also made from sweet fern, spicebush, ambrosia, twigs of sweet gum, fennel and dill seed, parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and sage.
Four-leaved loose-strife was pulled up like flax, its stalks were stripped of the leaves and boiled; the leaves were put in an iron kettle and basted with the liquor from the stalks. Then the leaves were put in an oven and dried. Liberty Tea sold for sixpence a pound and drunk at spinning bees and women's gatherings.
Earle, Customs and Fashions in Old New England
Indian Tea, Redroot, New Jersey Tea
"Tea made from a plant or shrub (Ceanothus americanus) grown
in Pearsontown about 20 miles from Portland, Maine, was served to
a circle of ladies and gentlemen in Newbury Port, who pronounced
it nearly, if not quite, its equal in flavor to genuine Bohea tea.
So important a discovery claims attention, especially at this crisis.
If we have the plant, nothing is wanted but the process of curing it
into tea of our own manufacture."
From The Boston Gazette, 1768
Balm, or lemon balm alone, or with sage is much
recommended, with a few flowers of lavender; it has
a most delicious flavor and taste, but is most agreeable
when green" (freshly cut, from garden to teapot). In a
cup, bruise the leaves of 3 generous sprigs of fresh
lemon balm leaves, a sprig of sage, and three lavender
blossoms. Pour boiling water over the herbs and let
them steep for 5-10 minutes. Add honey to taste.
Drink hot or cold.
From Family Receipt Book, 1819
Susan F. Craft will give away a copy of The Chamomile, some chamomile tea, and a small colonial "Betsy Ross" flag and a "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Leave a comment and your email address.
Elaine Marie Cooper is offering a copy of The Legacy of Deer Run to one of our winners.
J.M. Hochstetler will give away a copy of Daughter of Liberty to one of our winners.