English customs were generally imitated in this country, particularly in the urban centers of Boston where, as he visited in 1740, Joseph Bennett observed that “the ladies here visit, drink tea and indulge every little piece of gentility to the height of the mode and neglect the affairs of their families with as good grace as the finest ladies in London.”
English modes and manners remained a part of the social behavior after the colonies became an independent nation. Visitors to the newly formed United States were apt to remark about such habits as tea drinking, as did Brissot de Warville in 1788, that “in this, as in their whole manner of living, the Americans, in general, resemble the English.” Therefore, it is not surprising to find that during the 18th century the serving of tea privately in the morning and socially in the afternoon or early evening was an established custom in many households.
The naturalist Peter Kalm, during his visit to North America in the mid-18th century, noted that tea was a breakfast beverage in both Pennsylvania and New York. From the predominantly Dutch town of Albany in 1749, he wrote that “their breakfast is tea, commonly without milk.” At another time, Kalm stated:
This tea-drinking schedule was followed throughout the colonies. In Boston, the people “take a great deal of tea in the morning,” have dinner at two o’clock, and “about five o’clock they take more tea, some wine, Madeira [and] punch,” reported the Baron Cromot du Bourg during his visit in 1781. The Marquis de Chastellux confirms his countryman’s statement about teatime, mentioning that the Americans take “tea and punch in the afternoon.”