But then, the Revolution happened, and these United States of ours went in a somewhat different direction.
Back to the “T”
Getting back to my identity as an Englishman, however… I suppose that one of the things I heartily enjoyed, as a sort of cultural affectation, was the imbibing of tea. Not any tea, mind you… good English tea!
So, when England foolishly enacted the Tea Act in 1773, and American patriots dumped the tea into Boston Harbor in protest, many of us proud “Englishmen” had very mixed feelings. While I was slowly growing to embrace the cause of Revolution, finally admitting that there was no other choice, I nevertheless wondered what would happen to my custom of “tea time?”
Obviously, to purchase any tea after that bold act of defiance would have been tantamount to treason, in some people’s minds.
Fast forward to “T-day.”
Now, of course, in this odd new future world of 21st century America, I have found that you not only enjoy tea – of an incredible variety, I might add! – but you have also adopted another national drink that has set you apart in your new cultural identity. Coffee is now the beverage of choice for many Americans.
A little history
You might be interested to know a little about the history of coffee. Coffee became more widely accepted after it was deemed a Christian beverage by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the "Muslim drink." And then, the first European coffee house opened in Italy in 1645. By 1711, coffee had made its way to the Netherlands, bringing us up to the 18th century, from whence I came (by time travel or whatever).
When coffee reached North America during the Colonial period, it was initially not as successful as it had been in Europe (alcoholic beverages actually remained more popular). During our Revolutionary War, the demand for coffee increased so much that dealers had to hoard the scarce supplies and raise prices dramatically; this was also due to the reduced availability of tea from British merchants and a general resolution among many Americans to avoid drinking tea following the Boston Tea Party. And then, after the War of 1812, I’m told, when the tea supply was again interrupted, the American taste for coffee grew even more.
And now, here in this century, I find that coffee has virtually become a national industry – the coffee break is a cherished workday tradition; there are giant chains of shoppes and restaurants (Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McCafe, et cetera); one can choose from hundreds of varieties of coffee and coffee drinks; and there is even a new trend towards European-style versions such as cappuccino, expresso, and latte.
So spill the beans, Ben
All of which leads me to the quandary of today, now that I am here in this future world: do I maintain my Englishman’s love of tea, or do I adopt the new beverage of coffee, which has become the politically correct choice on this continent?
I suppose the right thing to do, as a patriot, is to be “one with the bean.” I shall switch to the American drink, immediately!
Your humble servant,