In 1794 a historian living in East Hampton, New York, interviewed a seventy eight year old woman. ‘Mrs Miller,’ he discovered, remembers well when they first began to drink tea on the east end of Long Island.’ She explained that none of the local farmers knew what to do with the dry leaves: ‘One family boiled it in a pot and ate it like samp-porridge. Another spread tea leaves on his bread and butter, and bragged of his having ate half a pound at a meal, to his neighbour, who was informing him how long a pound of tea lasted him.’
[…] The arrival of the first tea-kettle was a particularly memorable day in the community.
It came ashore at Montuak in a ship, (the captain bell). The farmers came down there on business with their cattle, and could not find out how to use the tea kettle, which was then brought up to old Governor Hedges. Some said it was for one thing, and some said it was for another. At length one, the more knowing than his neighbours, affirmed it to be the ship’s lamp, to which they all assented.
“Baubles of Britain”: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century