The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum opened a newly expanded exhibit on Monday displaying a vial of tea believed to be from the Boston Tea Party, dating all the way back to December 16, 1773.
This new exhibit incorporating the tea, in conjunction with the last known surviving tea chest from The Boston Tea Party, further supplements the museum’s mission to tell the story of the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution. The vial of tea is on loan for 10 years from the Old North Church & Historic Site in the North End.
The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum shares the curious story of the vial of tea here:
The tea, believed to be from The Boston Tea Party, has a couple of provenances. One allegedly stems from the family of Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris (1768-1842), a Unitarian clergyman who lived in Dorchester, Mass., who, as legend has it, gathered tea as a five-year-old boy when the tea thrown overboard at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773 and was carried by the tide to the beaches of Dorchester Neck Flats. The family purportedly bottled tea in numerous glass vials. Years later, Reverend Harris’ mother, Rebecca Harris (1745-1801), passed a vial of the tea to her daughter Hannah Waite (1780-1845). Since then, the tea (curiously in liquid form) has been passed on numerous times ultimately landing with Old North Church.
Old North Foundation of Boston Executive Director Steve Ayers commented, “Over the years, we have acquired a number of historic items and artifacts that are not directly associated with the history of Old North Church. We loan items to the appropriate places, like the vial of tea believed to be from The Boston Tea Party to The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, where the stories of the cultural artifacts can be better told and used to help educate the public on our nation’s history.”
The vial of tea is now on display at The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in conjunction with the Robinson Half Chest, the only known surviving tea chest from The Boston Tea Party.
You can visit the tea in person at The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, open 7 days/week from 10am – 5pm (summer/spring) and from 10am – 4pm (fall/winter) on the Congress Street bridge.