Captives and Cousins

Changes in the Land

Customs and Fashions in Old New England

join in bands to abandon the use of the unjustly taxed herb, and societies were formed of members pledged to drink no tea. Five hundred women so banded together in Boston. Various substitutes were employed in the place of the much-loved but rigidly abjured herb, Liberty Tea being the most esteemed. It was thus made: the 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. It was drunk at every spinning-bee, quilting, or other gathering of women. Ribwort was also used to make a so-called tea—strawberry and currant leaves, sage, and even strong medicinal herbs likewise. Hyperion tea was made from raspberry leaves. An advertisement of the day thus reads:

"The use of Hyperion or Labrador tea is every day coming into vogue among people of all ranks. The virtues of the plant or shrub from which this delicate Tea is gathered were first discovered by the Aborigines, and from them the Canadians learned them. Before the cession of Canada to Great Britain we knew little or nothing of this most excellent herb, but since that we have been taught to find it growing all over hill and dale between the Lat. 40 and 60. It is found all over New England in great plenty and that of best quality particularly on the banks of the Penobscot, Kennebec, Nichewannock, and Merrimac."

The proportion of tea used in America is now less than in England, and the proportion of coffee much larger. This is wholly the result of national habits formed through patriotic abstinence from tea-drinking in those glorious "Liberty Days."

The first mention of coffee, as given by Dr. Lyon, is in the record of the license of Dorothy Jones, of Boston, in 1670, to sell "Coffe and chuchaletto." At intervals of a few years other innkeepers were licensed to sell it, and by the beginning of the eighteenth century coffee-houses were established. Coffee dishes, coffee-pots, and coffee-mugs appear in inventories, and show how quickly and eagerly the fragrant berry was sought for in private families. As with tea, its method of preparation as a beverage seemed somewhat uncertain in some minds; and it is said that the whole beans were frequently boiled for some hours with not wholly pleasing results in forming either food or drink. After a few years "coffee-powder" was offered for sale.

Chocolate became equally popular. Sewall often drank it, once certainly as early as 1697, at the Lieutenant-Governor's, with a breakfast of venison. Winthrop says it was scarce in 1698. Madam Knight took it with her on her journey in 1704. "I told her I had some chocolate if she would prepare it, which, with the help of some milk and a little clean brass kettle, she soon effected to my satisfaction." Mills to grind cocoa were quickly established in Boston, and were advertised in the News Letter.

Even in the early days of our Republic there were reformers who wished to establish the use of temperance drinks, which were not, however, exactly the same liquids now so called. A writer in the Boston Evening Post wrote forcibly on the subject, and a Philadelphia paper published this statement on July 23d, 1788:

"A correspondent wishes that a monument could be erected in Union Green with the following inscription.

In Honour of
American Beer and Cyder.

It is hereby recorded for the information of strangers and posterity that 17,000 Assembled in this Green on the 4th of July 1788 to celebrate the establishment of the Constitution of the United States, and that they departed at an early hour without intoxication or a single quarrel. They drank nothing but Beer and Cyder. Learn Reader to prize these invaluable liquors and to consider them as the companions of those virtues which can alone render our country free and reputable.

Learn likewise to Despise
Spirituous Liquors as Anti Federal

and to consider them as the companions of all those vices which are calculated to dishonor and enslave our country."

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