Tea Time for Helium?

You may have seen stories over the last few days about the seeming inability of the Congress to allow the shutdown of National Helium Reserve. After all, the Navy still has one blimp in occasional service.

One of the themes running through the stories has been the idea that government programs seem to be immortal, but that’s not strictly accurate. Some merely live well past their useful lives—the Board of Tea Appeals, for example.

The Board of Tea Appeals was a federal agency (part of of the Food and Drug Administration) that adjudicated the claims of tea importers whose products were denied entry into the United States by federal tea-tasters. The Board decided whether or not to permit delivery, order destruction, or require export of “substandard teas.” It was founded in 1897 and was not abolished until 1996.

BTW, the FDA still regulates the quality of imported teas under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.