About mid-century, however, tea was beginning to be drunk by more and more people, as supplies increased and costs decreased, due in part to the propaganda and merchandising efforts of the East India Company.
According to Peter Kalm, tea, chocolate, and coffee had been “wholly unknown” to the Swedish population of Pennsylvania and the surrounding area before the English arrived, but in 1748 these beverages “at present constitute even the country people’s daily breakfast.” A similar observation was made a few years later by Israel Acrelius:
Tea, coffee, and chocolate are so general as to be found in the most remote cabins, if not for daily use, yet for visitors, mixed with Muscovado, or raw sugar.
America was becoming a country of tea drinkers. Then, in 1767, the Townshend Act imposed a duty on tea, among other imported commodities. Merchants and citizens in opposition to the act urged a boycott of the taxed articles. A Virginia woman, in a letter to friends in England, wrote in 1769:
… I have given up the Article of Tea, but some are not quite so tractable; however if wee can convince the good folks on your side the Water of their Error, wee may hope to see happier times.