Tea with Presidential Families on Presidents’ Day

It’s at this time of year that I always enjoy browsing through Tea with Presidential Families …   by Beulah Munshower Sommer and Pearl Dexter

Presidents’ Day combines the two former holidays of George Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. More recently the day celebrates all of our American Presidents.

Tea with Presidential Families was written in 1999 and covers the importance of tea during the Presidential terms 1 through 42. Being in the business of tea and all things related, this book reveals fascinating facts about the role tea has played with our Presidential families.  Here, I will share a few “tea stories” from the book, relative to Presidents Washington and Lincoln.

According to the book, both George and Martha Washington were avid tea drinkers. George always had 3 cups of tea with his breakfast! Archived records show that in December 1757, he placed an order to England for a total of 12 pounds of green tea. While they regularly ordered green teas there are also orders evidencing Bohea and Congo (Congou) both black teas. There are many more stories of George and Martha and their tea practices. The book also describes George’s direction on how the tea was to be distributed to the soldiers, according to rank, during the Revolutionary War. So now you have it, we did not stop drinking tea after the Boston Tea Party!

The Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln “tea story” is also very interesting, albeit less detailed. Invoices indicate that the Lincolns purchased their teas from Springfield, Illinois- but the book does not let us know exactly what teas they were enjoying. Much is said about the tea ware purchased and gifted to and from the Lincolns. It is documented that Lincoln would state to the shopkeeper, “Colonel, my wife tells me that we are out of tea. Put up a pound of your best.”

For those of you particularly interested in the First Lady’s, afternoon or high teas, there are many descriptions of First Family teas that were used not only as entertainment, but as a means of regular hospitality as well as a means to develop diplomatic relationships.

A huge thank you goes out to Pearl and Beulah, for sharing their research about the important role that tea has played with our first 42 Presidents in, Tea with Presidential Families.  Yes, this second most consumed beverage in the world is fairly important here in America, as well!

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