Board of Tea Appeals
The Board of Tea Appeals was a United States federal agency under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration. From its establishment in 1897 until its abolition in 1996, it adjudicated the claims of tea importers whose products were denied entry into the United States by federal tea-tasters. The Board was authorized to permit delivery or order destruction or exportation of substandard teas.
The Tea Importation Act
The Tea Importation Act, which created the Board of Tea Appeals, was on the books for 99 years before its repeal in 1996. As codified just before its repeal, the Act instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services each year "to appoint a board, to consist of seven members, each of whom shall be an expert in teas, and who shall prepare and submit to him standard samples of tea." In accordance with the board of experts' recommendations, the Secretary was instructed to "fix and establish uniform standards of purity, quality, and fitness for consumption of all kinds of teas imported unto the United States" and to deposit samples of these standards in the customhouses of various ports of entry. Tea importers were required to submit samples of their product for comparison with the standard samples kept at the customhouses. The imported samples were then tested "by a duly qualified examiner," who would test "the purity, quality, and fitness for consumption of the... [imported tea samples] according to the usages and customs of the tea trade, including the testing of an infusion of the same in boiling water and, if necessary, chemical analysis."
The statute declared it unlawful to import into the United States "any merchandise as tea which is inferior in purity, quality, and fitness for consumption to the standards [kept at customhouses..." For nearly a century, Congress provided that no imported tea could enter the United States unless federal tea-tasters decided that it measured up to preselected standard samples. Although the statute has been repealed, the FDA still regulates the quality of tea imported to the United States under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.
- Office of the Law Revision Counsel Ch 2 Tea
- Act of March 2, 1897, ch. 358, 29 Stat. 604 (codified as amended at 21 U.S.C. Sec. 41-50 (1994))
- 21 U.S.C. Sec. 42
- 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq
- "A Brief History of Tea: The Rise and Fall of the Tea Importation Act" by Patricia JB DeWitt 
- Federal Administrative Law by Gary Lawson
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