Abigail’s Tea Room Offers a Taste of History

Tea urns containing the five teas that were tossed overboard during the Boston Tea Party. Photo courtesy of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

At Abigail’s Tea Room in Boston guests can taste history as they sample all five teas that were tossed overboard during the Boston Tea Party on Dec. 16, 1773. The tearoom is part of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum at Boston Harbor’s edge.

Operations Manager Ted Galo emphasized the important paradox of keeping a product fresh while staying true to its history.

The museum originally opened in 1976. Lightning caused a fire that forced the museum’s closure in August 2001. After permits were secured from the city of Boston and renovation was completed, the museum reopened its doors in June 2012, this time with the addition of Abigail’s Tea Room.

Abigail’s Tea Room is named after Abigail Adams, John Adams’ wife, whose cousin, Sam Adams, was a Boston Tea Party leader.

“Boston is steeped in history,” Galo said. “We got back our status a prime destination of Boston and one of the things to do, versus a thing to do, which is a huge difference.”

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum tours end in Abigail’s Tea Room on the second floor and offer a view of the tea party ships’ masts and Boston Harbor. The tearoom staff wear colonial costumes and interact with customers in character.

The tearoom began as a place for high tea, until Galo and staff realized only a small percentage of their clientele sought such an experience. So, the tearoom evolved in response to customer feedback. Much of the summer clientele consists of families and children. Galo and his staff added baked goods, sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and even beer to the menu. Now, it is more of a combination tearoom and café, and it still possesses a beautiful dining room. Customers order food at a counter and then enjoy the dining room atmosphere.

The tearoom has a stand with five tea urns, each of which contains one of the teas that were thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party. For $3.99, people can order the “tea experience.” They receive a cup and can taste the teas.

The five teas are:

Bohea, a lightly smoked pekoe black tea blend.

Singlo, curled green tea leaves.

Souchong, a smoky black tea.

Congou, black tea of high mastery.

Hyson, a light and sweet green tea.

Abigail’s Blend served with scones. Photo courtesy of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

The tearoom still offers traditional tea service with Abigail’s Blend, which was created by tea guru Bruce Richardson. A pot of Abigail’s Blend comes with four scones, served to customers at their tables in a traditional teahouse service.

Galo and the staff wanted a multipurpose tearoom, so the room doubles as a venue for many events. One of the events is Tavern Night, held every other Friday, during which the tearoom is converted into an old colonial tavern including singing and dancing and an old colonial tavern-style food menu. Another event is a play they produce called Love Letters of John and Abigail Adams, which is performed each year around Valentine’s Day. The tearoom also hosts nighttime functions. Corporations hold summer and Christmas parties in the tearoom and on the accompanying deck. A lot of wedding rehearsal dinners occur there, too.

Abigail’s Tea Room, photo courtesy of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

“I think we had to do the same thing with the tearoom that we’ve done with the museum,” Galo said. “We thought we were going to have an old, traditional tearoom and what we’re learning is people don’t necessarily want that anymore. They want a variety of things. So you’ve got to be able to provide everything for everybody, but also keep the history going and keep your theme consistent.”