Following the Seven Years War (1756-1763) with France, England went through a series of financial crisis and as a result of which, it was obliged to impose taxes on many products. Among them in particular were goods destined for the colonies, including wine, sugar, molasses, and tea.
The Stamp Act of 1765, and a little later the Townshend Act of 1769 enunciated these taxes, setting off a huge wave of protest. The colonists in America distributed tracts and organized a boycott campaign and nany newspapers published a declaration renouncing tea. This push by local media effectively replaced tea with infusions of local herbs or berries, with coffee, or with contraband tea imported mostly by Dutch merchants.
Merchants in the colonies refused to buy from the East India Company and even though the Tea Act of 1773 reduced taxes, the agitation continued. The East India Company decided to export cargoes of tea to America, intended for sale directly to the colonists, without going through the merchants.
In December, three of the company's ships, the Dartmouth, Eleonor, and the Beaver reached port in Boston. During the night of December 16, a group of 150 patriots led by the merchant John Brown, took the boats by force and threw their cargo into the sea. In return, London forbade all commerce with Boston. The other American cities joined in a united front, burning or throwing into the sea other English cargoes of tea. The stakes grew as skirmishes escalated into battles, and the United States ended up winning their independence in 1776.
It goes without saying that tea is not responsible for the independence of the United States. Nevertheless, tea was seen as a symbol of the intolerable relationship between colonies and the mother country. After independence, many Americans remained faithful to coffee, and the consumption of tea would never again reach the levels attained in the preceding era. To this day it is virtually impossible to find an American who knows how to brew a decent cup of tea without chucking it into the harbour.