Tea Master Bruce Richardson talks about colonial America’s love affair with green tea, including hyson green tea, one of two green Chinese green teas tossed overboard during the 1773 tea rebellion in Boston Harbor. Twenty per cent of the tea aboard those three ships was green tea. Later, in the 19th century, general stores across America often stocked a tightly-rolled Chinese or Japanese green tea called gunpowder. Its shape resembled gunpowder. And if a Civil War soldier was fortunate enough to have tea in his pack, it probably was gunpowder green tea.
Speaking: Teamaster Bruce Richardson
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hi i’m bruce richardson tea master for the boston tea party ships museum. here to talk to you today about america’s longtime love affair with green tea.
now it may surprise you to learn the 22% percent of the tea thrown overboard in boston harbor on December 6, 1773 was in fact green tea. and one of the favorite green teas of both the colonists and their cousins back in england was a young spring picked tea from china called young hyson
young hyson kept its popularity for well over a 100 years here in the united states. if you ventured into any general store here the united states in the 1800s, you may have found a container that looked much like this. it holds 8 to 10 pounds of tea or if they didn’t have tea may hold coffee because the sign here at the top was a rotating cylinder. Now here it’s turned to young hyson but this could be rotated and it could also say something like that gun powder green tea which is one of my favorite teas to talk about here in my civil war village of Perryville, Kentucky.
now this is a chinese green tea that gets its name because we think when dutch east indies buyers first went to china and saw a it they couldn’t pronounce the mandarin name but they said well it looks like gunpoweder to me. the name has stuck. this hand rolled tea is hand rolled very very tightly it keeps the air out and has a shelf life for or maybe up to 3 or 4 years
here’s one of my favorite collectibles from that era. it’s called a tea and sugar box because in it are two compartments with each with a lid and one end you put sugar it maybe on the other end you put a tea like the gunpowder green tea into it but the lid on it throw it into your saddlebag and it’s off to battle you go. now both young hyson and gunpowder green teas are still available in tea shops all across america along with hundreds and hundreds of other beautiful teas from china, taiwan almost every major tea producing country in the world.
but just remember this one rule about making green tea, it doesn’t like boiling water so keep the temperature at about a 175 to 180 degrees. so that you brew and not stew.
until our next tea time go forth and make good tea.
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