Leading up to the Boston Tea Party and during the American Revolution, colonial women rallied at local parsonages and organized campaigns to ban English tea from every household for the principle of liberty. They searched their larders, gardens, orchards, and fields for suitable herbs, flowers, bark, and fruits to fill their teapots with a substitute home brew that became known as "Liberty Tea." Spearmint and peppermint were popular ingredients as were raspberry and strawberry leaves, lemon balm, verbena and wintergreen. Elder, red clover, chamomile, violet and goldenrod flowers were used. Dried fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and apples enhanced with rosehips made their contribution, while sassafras and willow tree bark were also used as flavorings. Native herbs such as fennel, dill, parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, sage, sweet fern, spicebush, and ambrosia were additions to the brew too.
Labradore tea was the name of another herb tea.
As part of the campaign to avoid the heavily taxed tea, poems were published in newspapers and pamphlets, and posted on street posts. Below is one of the popular poems written to encourage women to forsake drinking British tea. The author is unknown.
Throw aside your Bohea and your Green Hyson Tea,
And all things with a new fashioned duty;
Procure a good store of the choice Labradore,
For there'll soon be enough here to suit ye;
There do without fear, and to all you'll appear
Fair, charming, true, lovely and clever;
Though the times remain darkish, young men may be sparkish,
And love you much stronger than ever.
In an ironic twist of history, homegrown Liberty Teas were later shipped to England and the rest of Europe as one of America's earliest exports. Hooray for America's resourceful women!