What is New Jersey tea?

New Jersey tea is the popular name of Ceanothus americanus, a white-flowered plant that grows abundantly in the northeastern part of the United States. The name arose from the fact that the Indians and early settlers, particularly in New Jersey, used the plant to make a drink. From the roots, which contain a red coloring matter, the Indians made [ 468 ] a tea supposed to have medicinal properties, it being regarded by them as especially good for curing fevers. There is a tradition that some of the American colonists used this plant as a substitute for tea to avoid paying the British tax on imported tea.