It’s the middle of winter and raining and instead of nursing a coffee, we’re heading to the Boston Tea Party Museum.
The Boston Tea Party Museum and Tea Ships commemorates the rebellion between the colonists and the British over extra taxes being placed on bales of tea, which kick-started the American War of Independence. What was basically an ambush where the aggrieved locals dressed as indigenous folk boarded a ship and tipped the tea overboard into the harbor rather than pay their taxes.
Now you can share this disdain for English Breakfast and Earl Grey and tip your own tea overboard and sing the praises of a grande peppermint mocha with whipped cream at The Boston Tea Party Museum in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum takes you back to the 1700s, where you’re initially corralled into a town meeting of sorts that replicates the Meeting House. The locals are restless and you’re invited to join in the airing of grievances on the pressing political issues of the day.
We are issued with cards depicting a historic character we will need to role-play and feathers to waive as a sign of disdain (“fie”) and support (“huzzah”). A little cheesy, yes, but if you embrace the experience it certainly offers a little tongue-in-cheek humor.
The Meeting House format is a smart way to introduce the preamble of what led up to the momentous event, where rebels disguised themselves as indigenous Indians and boarded the ships in the dark of night, throwing valuable tea overboard in protest.
We are then herded to the decks of the Museum’s ship, right on the Charles River, to see the living quarters of sailors of the day, and to practice our own tea dunking skills. The most interesting part of the tour for us is being transported through time by costumed actors who take you through the museum and explain the events leading up to the dumping of the tea – which, yes you can choose to do.
Holograms are used to explain elaborate on key moments and fill in the huge gaps in our knowledge of American history. The ships are inhabited with dummies in-situ, with a captain seated at his desk. Although much smaller than the original clippers that serviced the seas between China and America, this scaled-down model captures the essence of life on board.
Inside, a more traditional museum structure offers plenty of exhibits and reading materials. The most fascinating piece in the whole Boston Tea Party Museum is the Robinson Tea Chest, the only original tea chest from the tea party event, which has been passed down the generations of the Robinson family.
To finish the visit, guests can access the Museum’s tiny café, Abigail’s Tea Room, complete with Devonshire tea with English scones and jam and cream, a delicious and sweet nod to British involvement in U.S. history.
With its pivotal role in American history, its melting pot of Irish and Italian flavors, and warm, humble population, Boston is an essential stop when traveling the east coast of the United States. Explore more great ideas to make the most of a Boston stay.
The Boston Tea Ships Museum (or Boston Tea Party Museum) is an interactive exhibition that lets you play a role in re-enacting the historic dumping of tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the British taxes.
306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
The Boston Tea Ships are currently closed due to COVID restrictions, but in the interim, they offer a virtual experience. In normal seasons, the Tea Ships are open daily from 10am to 4pm and cost between $10 and $30.Follow & Connect with us