America’s interest in tea began not in Boston, but 200 miles south in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. By 1640, Chinese tea had been introduced to the Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company and infused into the daily life of the monarchy, the House of Orange. Although there were no specific records of its earliest use in America, it was probably brought to New Amsterdam soon afterwards.
By the time Dutch East India Company Director, Peter Stuyvesant, arrived as governor in 1647, early records show the custom of taking tea by the burghers of New Amsterdam proved equal to that of their native Holland. The tea board, tea table, teapots, sugar bowl, silver spoons, and strainer were the pride of the Dutch household in the New World.
Rich burghers often retreated to their garden pavilions to take afternoon bread, fruit and tea. The socially correct grand dame of New Amsterdam not only served tea, but she brewed several kinds in different pots so as to accommodate the tastes of her guests. She never poured milk or cream with tea, for this was a later innovation that came to America from France; but she did offer sugar, and sometimes saffron or peach leaves for flavoring. The records of household inventories make it evident that tea was in vogue in New Amsterdam.