Women fought for liberty from the familiar territory of their kitchens. The British empire was overextended and the American housewife’s boycott of goods deprived them of taxes. The goodwifes punched the enemy right where it hurt the most. In the pocketbook.
During the American Revolution, the women contributed their frugality and ingenuity in the kitchen, in addition to their moral support. We will see on Thursday’s profile of Elizabeth Hubbard how difficult it could be for a woman with three sons and many relatives and townspeople in the army.
Tea became a battle ground. Although it had not always been the drink of choice as this passage from an article in the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine points out.
Not familiar with Bohea (Boo-hee)? It is a smoky black tea from China, and according to this website was the majority tea destroyed at the Boston Tea Party.
In A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances Laura Schenone points out how critical women’s help was in defeating the British.
Specifically, they gave up staples they were used to, as Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John,
“If I have neither Sugar, molasses, coffee nor Tea I have no right to complain. I can live without any of them and if what I enjoy I can share with my partner and with Liberty, I can sing o be joyfull and sit down content.”
The website, The Food Timeline, quotes a book about tea:
A Social History of Tea, Jane Pettigrew [National Trust Enterprises:London] 2001 (p. 48-51)
Foreign tea consumption fell by more than 2/3 in a three year period (1769-1772)
New Jersey Tea/Red Root
You can see many quotes from Revolutionary times and more information about this plant and its use for tea, used widely as a tea substitute, at this web site.
Since I am a fan of green tea, I really should see if I could grow some of this plant. One newspaper even claims that “(it) is preferred by many to the best Green Tea.”
Bergamot, a garden herb, which is the flavoring used in Earl Gray Tea.
Raspberry Bush leaves (I think I would also dry some of the fruit and mix it in with the leaves when I make the tea.)
Strawberry Bush leaves
Rhubarb Leaves (I can’t vouch for this one, but have to admit it does not sound attractive.)
Mint, which could be found in many varieties in a housewife’s herb garden. When I was growing up, we always had mint growing beside the house wall and would always add it to a glass of iced tea. Beware if you plant it in your garden. It spreads by runners, like that peeking over the edge of this plant and will take over EVERYTHING.
Sage, still used as a tea. In fact, I was offered some in Greece by a woman who let me know despite our lack of common language that it would cure colds and women’s ailments.
For any of these herbs and plants, hang the stems with leaves upside down to dry for a couple of days. When dry, store in glass jars. To make tea, lightly crush the leaves and place in a strainer or tea ball, pour over them boiling water.
And enjoy your liberty.