What was so important about tea that it caused a major problem in the relations between England and the colonies?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In one sense, tea was not really the issue between the colonists and the British government.  Instead, what was really at stake was the issue of taxation.  The colonists did not like the fact that Parliament could impose taxes on them at will.  In other words, this was part of the colonists’ issue of “taxation without representation.”

In another sense, tea was the important issue.  Tea was important because it was a big business.  Any time you have something that is a big business, large sums of money will be involved and emotions can run high.  The Tea Act was a way for the British government to help a major company.  The British East India Company was a very large company that had a major place in the British economy.  It was also doing rather poorly.  The Tea Act was, in a sense, a bail out for this company.  Therefore, the tea was important to the British economy.  To the Americans, tea was also important, though not as much as it was to the British.  There were many colonial merchants for whom tea was big business as well.

Today, tea may seem like a small thing.  But it was a major part of the British economy in those days.  For that reason, and because of the issue of taxation, the Tea Act caused major problems between Britain and its colonies.