It was not a new tax on tea — in fact the Tea Act lowered the price of the product considerably. But the settlers saw through the act to its meaning. For several years the British East India Company was suffering, with ships laden with the stuff languishing in ports for want of buyers. The Americans were boycotting all British goods, tea included, taxed unfairly by the Townshend Acts. So the British decided to drop the price of it, thinking they could get rid of the excess tea and reconcile America to the Townshend acts.
On this day, April 27, in 1773, the British parliament passed the Tea act, establishing 1) Direct shipment of tea from East India to the U.S., which lowered its cost significantly; 2) a lowered tax on the tea sold; and 3) the designation of special distributors and sellers, at Britain’s choosing.
The British badly miscalculated the American reception. Not only did many of the settlers rightly realize the act was just a reprise of the hated Townshend duties, but the establishment of special channels of distributions and sales left many shopkeers cut out of the deal infuriated. One group went so far in protest as to board the ships and dump the tea in Boston harbor — the famous Boston Tea Party.