Afternoon Tea -Spring 2019

Savoring the remains of the day

by: Marianne R. Stanton

Nantucket’s connection to tea goes way back to the Colonial days. It’s an historical link as well as a cultural one.

Main Street is bookended by two brick buildings named after the island’s source of its wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries: the Pacific Ocean. Whalers departing from Nantucket rounded Cape Horn and sailed into the Pacific in search of sperm whales, whose oil was used to light the lamps of the world.

At the top of Main is the Pacific Bank, established in 1804. At the lower end is the Pacific Club, built by merchant William Rotch. A quarterboard on the front of the building names three vessels Rotch owned: the Dartmouth, Beaver and Bedford.

In 1773 the Dartmouth and Beaver had been chartered by the East India Company and were docked in Boston at Rowe’s Wharf with a cargo of tea. In the dark of night, the ships were raided by Colonists dressed as Indians and the tea was thrown overboard in protest of a tax being levied by the Crown. The event is known in history as the Boston Tea Party.

Two hundred and fifty years later, the concept of tea parties, albeit of a different kind, is still alive and well in the western world.

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