Mr. Palmer’s Opinion in what Mode to Ship Tea to America
Index: Tea Leaves - A Collection of East India Co. Letters, 1773
The Bohea tea to be taken out of what was refused by the buyers last sale; but particular care to be taken that none under the degree of middling, or good middling, nor any damaged chests are sent, to be marked & invoiced, not according to the King's numbers, but the Company's, to be reweighed, by thus marking them, each bed will be kept separate, and there will not only be no pretence abroad for finding fault, as from No. to No., will be exactly of the same quantity, having been packed from the said heap or pile at Canton, and since examined in England. But the taste of the Americans will also be better known, that is, whether they prefer a fresh middling tea, provided it is not absolutely faint, or a strong, rough tea. A certain quantity of each of these kinds to be sent to each place, that either may not have the advantage over the other, by having teas of a superior quality, their respective qualities to be remarked in the invoices. A small assortment of about a dozen or twenty small chests of Hyson, Souchong, Congou, and each specie of Singlo tea, viz.: Twankey, Skin and First Sort, to be sent to each place, with proper remarks thereon in the respective invoices, each of these species to be taken out of some bed or break of teas now laid down, or intended so to be, for next September sale, regard being had to their respective qualities, and to be taken out of such beds or breaks, which shall be sufficiently large, not only to supply each Colony with its quantity, but also to leave a considerable part thereof to be sold at the ensuing sale, by which means the Company may hereafter compare the prices to the same parcel of tea sells for, not only at each Colony, but also at their own sales, which can no otherwise be done, as each of these species, going under the same general denomination of Hyson, Souchong, Congo and Singlo, vary almost 100 pr cent. in the price they sell for, according to quality, & not 10 pr cent. in the purchase.
As it would be a great object with the Company to introduce, if possible, the consumption of Singlo tea into America, that being a kind of tea which spoils by age, much more than Bohea, and also that of which they are much more considerably overloaded with, and further, such an introduction would have this advantage also, that the foreign countries could not soon rival us, not being themselves importers of any considerable quantity of this specie of tea. It should be recommended to the agents, to endeavour all they can, at such introduction, which it is conceived may be brought about, at least in some degree, from the experience of the consumption here in England, which will appear to have constantly gained ground proportionally, as its price at the Company's sales has approached nearer to Bohea tea, and in the present situation of this branch of the Company's trade, it might easily be made appear, it would be for their advantage, even to sell it in America, at the quoted price of Bohea, by which means they might be relieved from the disagreeable alternative of selling it here under prime cost, or keeping a greater quantity unsold in their warehouses, until it is spoiled by age.
London, Augt 5th 1773.
St. Paul's Churchyard, No. 55.
I am favored with yours of yesterday's date, and agreeable to your request, I shall immediately communicate the information therein contained, to Richard Clarke, Esqr., & Sons, Merchants, in Boston, New England, which is the house with which I am connected, and who I flatter myself will acquit themselves of the trust the Hon'ble the Court of Directors have been pleased to repose in them.
I would also beg leave to solicit part of the freight of the tea for a vessel which I shall possibly have ready in ten days, provided it will agree with the time you propose to ship them.
I am, sir,
Your most hum. servt
Mr. Wm. Settle, 17th Augt
Wm., Capt Joseph Royal
Loring, will be ready in 5 days.
The Committee of Warehouses desire you will inform them whether you have a constant trader to Boston or South Carolina ready to sail, as the East India Comy intend to export teas to both those Colonies, and are desirous of giving you the preference of the freight.
I am, sir,
Your most obedit sert
East India House, 5th Augt 1773.
To George Hayley, Esqr.
Thos. Lane, Esqr.
Alex. Champion, Esqr.
The deputy chairman of the East India Comy desires you would point out to the Comtee of Warehouses what sorts of tea and quantity of each are, in your opinion, proper to be sent to Boston & South Carolina, to make up to the former of those places, an export equal to 300 large chests of Bohea tea, and the latter a quantity equal to 200 large chests Bohea.
Mr. Holbrook says if you can be with him this morning, you will expedite his business very much, as the Comtee have directed him to make ready for shipping immediately.
I am, sir,
Your most hum. servt
East India House, 6th Augt 1773.
Mr. Wm. Settle.