Cowboys, Tea, and a Give Away!

American tea culture is part of our country’s history, and though back in the day most cowboys were immersed in the country’s coffee culture (cowboys were staunch coffee drinkers) you still had the occasional individual that enjoyed a cup of tea. Of course, many of these were British men and women who came to America looking for adventure. My fictional town of Clear Creek in Oregon is full of British folks and the hotel there serves tea every afternoon. But in history, tea was enjoyed only on occasion and mostly by ladies.

Pioneers even enjoyed tea and brought it west in “bricks”. These bricks could be square or rectangular in shape. All you had to do if you had a hankering for a cup, was to break off a piece to make your tea. A brick lasted a long time if there weren’t a lot of avid tea drinkers in the house and could keep for months. 


Because bricks of tea were easy to transport and kept, once in a while you’d get a cowboy who brought some along with his other supplies for survival. These other supplies included a good knife, a gun and some ammo, something to start fires with, fishing line and a hook, piggin strings (basically strips of rawhide used for tying the feet of cattle for branding and what not), a canteen and water, cookware, food (usually bacon — I was born in the wrong time) biscuits or hard tack (then again I’ll take the 21st century!) dried fruit if they could get their hands on it and of course coffee. Or in the case of the occasional tea drinker, a tea brick. Cowboys also had a rain slicker, coat, blanket, bandanna, a few extra clothes, tobacco and books! Yes, many a cowboy read, and a surprising number of them were well educated. Who’d have thought?

I can just picture some British fellow in America for a little adventure, having his tea on the prairie, reading his book and getting teased by the other cowboys. This sort of thing did happen as so many British thought traipsing around America would be fun. These were often lords and ladies who had the funds to do it. My Prairie Bride series is based on a British family coming to America then going west to start a cattle ranch. Unfortunately, the father dies in Missouri just before winter causing a conundrum as more often than not, a woman wasn’t allowed on a wagon train without a husband. She does find one (that was a whole book!) and finally makes it to Oregon with her sons, new husband and step sons. And yes, she and her sons were all avid tea drinkers.

If you weren’t a cowboy, tea was for afternoon social gatherings rather than a meal. Ladies had to have a way to gossip, catch up on all the latest fashions, not to mention scandals, and be seen in the right gatherings with the right people. Drawing room teas, as they were called, could have up to 20 to 30 people. Reception teas as many as 200. The growing middle class found that tea was an economical way of entertaining without having to spend too much money. You can also bet they weren’t using bricks of tea, but the loose leaf variety. 

Do you enjoy a good tea? Can you imagine having tea while watching over a few thousand head of cattle or along the Oregon Trail? I’ll pick a winner from the comments below to receive a free e-copy of Trail to Clear Creek. And yes, this is the story I mentioned above of my British family going west!


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Kit Morgan is the author of over 100 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!

38 thoughts on “Cowboys, Tea, and a Give Away!”

  1. I guess my 83% British heritage is showing for I do love a cup of tea in the afternoon. However, I am also a big coffee drinker — all morning long.

  2. We don’t drink hot tea here but I keep a gal of ice tea in the fridge all the time. Now I drink my coffee every morning when I first get up, because there is nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning.

  3. Pots of tea are consumed by me everyday. I like coffee occasionally and I prefer an Ice Cappuccino, but Tea is my addiction. My grandmother was a tea drinker and my two cousin’s Trish and Kelly and I share that with her.

  4. I do like Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, and just regular sweet tea, too! I also like coffee, as long as it’s straight black!

  5. I am mostly a coffee drinker. I do like ice tea,favorite being the Arnold Palmer (tea and lemonade mixed). When my daughter was around 12/13 she was reading a series of books where the girl came home from school and she and her mother would have a cup of tea. So we enjoyed doing that for a few years.

  6. I enjoy a good cup of tea, but I would think having coffee on the trail would have been a bit easier then tea.

  7. English Breakfast and Earl Grey are daily drinks for me, plus iced tea. I’ll have a chai latte as an occasional treat.

  8. Kit, I’ve never heard of bricks of tea before but I’m filing this away for future reference. How interesting. I love hot tea, especially in the colder months. Love lemon, cinnamon apple, and cranberry vanilla. Sleepy Time tea with it’s chamomile is excellent in relaxing tired muscles. I love your book cover. So pretty.

    • I learned about tea bricks on a visit to the Philip Foster House here in Oregon. It was a major stop for folks heading west and was pretty much the last rest stop before heading on to Oregon City. The guide pulled this brick of tea out of the cupboard and explained how the pioneers would slice off a small piece to make a pot.

  9. I love tea, hot or iced, although I am definitely a coffee drinker also. I’ve never heard of a tea brick – so interesting. I had a friend who spent a year in England doing a teacher exchange program and she taught me to appreciate loose leaf tea. She said the English people she knew thought a paper tea bag ruined the taste of the tea.

  10. You’re right, Kit – it’s hard to imagine a rugged cowboy drinking tea. We’re used to him with a cup of strong Arbuckles!

    But I do love me a nice cup of hot tea in the winter – a simple black tea (doesn’t have to be expensive) and several sprigs of mint with a little Splenda. Just what I need to get in a few pages of writing.

    Great blog!

  11. I like hot tea in the winter and iced tea in the summer. If I was out on the trail, I would enjoy a cup of tea instead of coffee. I have never been a coffee drinker.

  12. Kit, Reading while sipping a cup of tea is bliss! I enjoy Pacific Spicy Chai that comes in a powder. I’m not a coffee drinker.

  13. I love my sweet tea, but I have to have my coffee in the mornings,or else I will get a headache, all through the day I do drink my sweet tea. (not entering this ebook giveaway, but thank you)

  14. I can easily see myself drinking a hot beverage, coffee or tea, while tending a heard of cattle. I drink both. Tea is a lighter drink, I put sugar or honey in it and no creamer. I may add lemon or sometimes stir in a caramel which gives a nice smooth sweetness to a cup of tea. My husband’ Nana was from England and always had her tea. Especially in the evenings, she would treat it with a spot of brandy or whiskey. I have a variety of teas but tend to drink several varieties of breakfast tea the most. Come the colder weather I will drink more of the flavored varieties. In hot weather it is iced tea, very light on the sweetener.
    I hope the fires are far away from you. You had enough to worry about last time. Stay safe and healthy.

  15. I am not a hot beverage drinker. I have never liked coffee, I am a iced tea drinker, any time of day. I just started brewing my own Lipton Green Tea and can’t get enough of it.

  16. I hate coffee, even the smell of it, but I like my tea. My English ancestors must be coming through. My grandmother drank tea and her grandfather came from England as a child so it is probably only natural that I enjoy tea. My favorite is cinnamon tea.

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