Their actions hit the King and his ministers where it really hurt, in the pocketbook. By the patriots' dumping of all that tea into Boston Harbor, the owners of that tea – the merchants and tea traders back in England – suffered an immediate and serious financial loss, which did not make them very happy with their own government.
At the time, I felt badly for them; in fact, I even offered to make up their loss out of my own pocket. (As it later turned out, the British declined our offer).
But, of course, as we all know, the Tea Party and other events inevitably took the colonies down the path of no return, serving as the straws that ultimately broke the camel's back, leading to the Revolutionary War.
Today's version of history
Things are certainly different here now in the 21st century. It had been my pleasure recently to attend a tea party of a different sort – a "Boston Ice Tea Party." This one was purely a social occasion – with no one dressed as native Americans, no one throwing tea overboard, and no one suffering financial setbacks. That was somewhat of a relief, since I would not have to pick up the tab this time.
Ice is nice
Perhaps most curious of all, however, in my opinion, was learning of this refreshing new beverage you modern Americans call "iced tea." In my day, before the discovery of the element freon, and the invention of refrigeration, there was no such thing as ice cubes. And hence, no concoction like iced tea ( or iced coffee, or iced cola, or iced lemonade, etc.). Basically, all our beverages were either hot, or room temperature. Which is all right, I suppose, except that they never had the "zing" (is that how you say it?) of these new "iced" treats.
And then, there's the matter of beer and ale. In the 1700s, we did not have the luxury of serving these "ice cold" either. So we simply were accustomed to consuming them at whatever temperature they happened to be.
What kind of tea is this?
Getting back to the subject of the tea party, however – the oddest thing about this particular affair was the particular variety of tea our hosts had chosen to serve us. It was something they called "Long Island Iced Tea." I do not know how in the world they prepared this libation, but it had a distinctly relaxing and yet liberating effect, much like the rum punch that was a special favorite of mine back in my Philadelphia days.
I would wager that if this brand of tea had been served back in colonial times, history would have been rather different, in two ways:
- The Boston Tea Party might have had a more convivial, less conflictual tone; and...
- Because of this beverage's "liberating" nature, as I mentioned earlier, we patriots could probably have won our "liberty" a lot sooner, I believe.
So, another round for everyone – and this one is on me!
Your humble servant,
Ben "Ice T" Franklin