On Washington’s Birthday: Did George Drink Tea?

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Today, the 3rd Monday in February, is celebrated as George Washington’s Birthday.  The day is a US Federal holiday and celebrated as President’s Day.

While you probably are familiar with Washington’s Revolutionary War exploits and that he was the first president of the US, do you think he was a tea drinker.  Certainly, tea was popular around that time, but Washington may not have liked the beverage. Do we know for sure?  In the book series, The Writings of George Washington, you have a definitive answer.  The series covers his public and private correspondance, messages, papers and more.

So, was he  a tea drinker?  Several extracts from his diary reveal he had tea almost whenever he met with people. Here are some random examples all from a single month.

May 16, 1787
No more than two States being yet represented, agreed, till a quorum of them should be formed, to alter the hour of meeting at the State house to one o clock. Dined at the president Dr Franklin’s and drank tea and spent the evening at Mr John Penn’s.

May 17, 1787
Mr Rutledge from Charleston, and Mr Charles Pinckney from Congress, having arrived, gave a representation to South Carolina and Colonel Mason getting in this evening placed all the delegates from Virginia on the floor of the convention. Dined at Mr Powel’s and drank tea there.

May 20, 1787
Dined with Mr and Mrs Morris and other company at their farm called the Hills; returned in the afternoon and drank tea at Mr Powel’s.

May 21, 1787
Delaware State was represented. Dined and drank tea at Mr Bingham’s in great splendor.

May 22, 1787
The representation from North Carolina was completed which made a representation for five States. Dined and drank tea at Mr Morris’s.

May 23, 1787
No more States being represented. I rode to General Minim’s to breakfast; after which in company with him, Mr Madison Mr Rutledge and others, I crossed the Schuylkill above the Falls; visited Mr Peters’s, Mr Penn’s seat, and Mr William Hamilton’s. Dined at Mr Chew’s with the wedding guests (Colonel Howard of Baltimore having married his daughter Peggy.) Drank tea there in a very large circle of ladies

So, George Washington probably drank tea every day.  He was, in fact, a big tea drinker.

Actually, Washington’s real birthday was Feb 22nd.

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